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National title hopes can rarely absorb a loss in college football

Unless you're in the Southeastern Conference, the chances of reaching the championship game with a loss are next to none.

October 13, 2013|Chris Dufresne
  • Georgia defensive end Quincy Mauger gets an earful from defensive coordinator Todd Grantham during the Bulldogs' 41-26 loss to Missouri on Saturday. The loss shattered Georgia's national title hopes.
Georgia defensive end Quincy Mauger gets an earful from defensive coordinator… (Jason Getz / Associated…)

Seven ranked teams discovered this weekend that defeat in college football is very expensive.

As it relates to national titles it can bankrupt you.

Consider the seven losses suffered by the Super Bowl champion New York Giants in 2011 equal the combined total losses for 15 Bowl Championship Series champions.

No school outside the Southeastern Conference has been able to absorb a wound and come back to win the title. The SEC owns nine rings and all seven losses.

It took six seasons before the BCS even had a one-loss champion — Louisiana State in 2003.

So it really does matter, one week before the first BCS standings will be released, if you won or lost.

Losing is hard to shake when one play call can cost you everything, right Stanford?

Let's review this weekend's Seven Deadly Defeat Sins.

--Former No. 5 Stanford (5-1).

The defeat: 27-21 at Utah.

The repercussions: Stanford's inability to score inside the 10-yard line near the end probably ended the Cardinal's national title hopes. Stanford's 40-6 record since 2009 is almost identical to Alabama's 41-5, yet the Crimson Tide has won two national titles in that span.

The difference is Alabama doesn't lose to unranked opponents. Stanford lost last year to unranked Washington.

Stanford fell eight spots to No. 13. The pollsters did not recognize Utah as a quality opponent that suffered close losses to Oregon State in overtime and to No. 9 UCLA.

Utah, incredibly, garnered only 18 points in Sunday's USA Today coaches' poll.

The reaction: "We knew we were coming into a hornets' nest," Stanford Coach David Shaw said after the Utah loss.

The prospects: History has proved only SEC teams can rebound from regular-season defeats. The good news is Stanford has remaining games against UCLA and No. 2 Oregon.

--Former No. 7 Georgia (4-2).

The defeat: 41-26 at home to Missouri.

The repercussions: Georgia's second loss almost officially kills its BCS title hopes. And wasn't that the reason Aaron Murray came back for his senior year?

LSU in 2007 is the only school to win a title with two defeats, but that took a bizarre set of circumstances.

Georgia dropped eight poll positions to No. 15.

The reaction: "We just can't let the world stop," Coach Mark Richt said.

The prospects: Georgia has too many injuries and defeats to overcome. The Bulldogs are 3-1 in league, though, and must now refocus on winning the SEC East.

--Former No. 12 Oklahoma (5-1).

The defeat: 36-20 to Texas.

The repercussions: Losing so soundly to an unranked Texas team is a body blow to an Oklahoma outfit that looked contender-worthy after a convincing win at Notre Dame.

Oklahoma dropped six spots in the AP to No. 18.

The reaction: "I still believe in this team," Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops said.

The prospects: In 2003, Oklahoma was routed in the Big 12 title game by Kansas State and still finished No. 1 in the BCS standings. This year's team, though, will be hard-pressed to get back to the top five.

--Former No. 16 Washington (4-2).

The defeat: 45-24 to Oregon in Seattle.

The repercussions: Washington might have overcome last week's close road loss at Stanford with a win over the Ducks, yet the Huskies showed Saturday they are still not ready for prime time.

AP voters at least considered the quality of competition and dropped Washington only four positions to No. 20.

The reaction: "You can't hold on to it," Washington receiver Kevin Smith said of the Oregon loss. "You've just got to let it go and move on to the next one."

The prospects: Washington is still on track for a fine season but currently stands fifth in the six-team Pac-12 North.

--Former No. 17 Florida (4-2).

The defeat: 17-6 at LSU.

The repercussions: Florida could have mitigated that non-conference loss to Miami with an upset win in Baton Rouge. This second defeat, though, effectively knocks the Gators out of BCS title contention (see: Georgia).

Florida dropped five poll spots to No. 22.

The reaction: "We all want to go to Atlanta, and we still have a chance to do that," Florida receiver Trey Burton said.

The prospects: Burton is right as Florida controls its destiny in the SEC East. The Gators are 3-1 with remaining games against Missouri, Georgia and South Carolina.

--Former No. 18 Michigan (5-1).

The defeat: 43-40 in quadruple overtime at Penn State.

The repercussions: Michigan was already a questionable contender after narrow wins against Akron and Connecticut. This defeat, although heartbreaking, came against a team with losses to Indiana and Central Florida.

Michigan dropped out of the AP poll and to No. 24 in USA Today.

The reaction: "When you lose in overtime, if you let it take a toll, it will," Michigan Coach Brady Hoke said.

The prospects: Michigan's dream season is likely over. It must now try to wreck Ohio State's dream season.

--Former No. 19 Northwestern (4-2).

The defeat: 35-6 at Wisconsin.

The repercussions: Northwestern was only minutes last week from upsetting Ohio State and becoming a legitimate title threat. That tough loss, aided by a questionable fourth-down spot, obviously had a hangover effect in Madison.

Northwestern dropped out of both polls.

The reaction: "We lost our focus somewhere," Northwestern Coach Pat Fitzgerald said.

The prospects: Northwestern came within 5:03 total minutes last year from being undefeated but won't be able to make those T-shirt claims in 2013.

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