AP: Alabama rolls into BCS title game; Cincinnati hoping Nebraska can spring upset in Big 12 final

Alabama booked its spot in the BCS national title game and all but eliminated any possibility of a rematch with Florida at the Rose Bowl in January.

Now all the Crimson Tide need is an opponent.

For that, all eyes turn to Texas.

Mark Ingram, Greg McElroy and the second-ranked Tide earned their first trip to the BCS final with a 32-13 victory against No. 1 Florida in SEC championship Saturday.

Alabama will play No. 3 Texas in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 7 if the Longhorns beat No. 21 Nebraska in the Big 12 title game late Saturday. If Texas loses, either TCU or Cincinnati is likely to face the Tide at the Rose Bowl.

Tim Tebow’s last game for the Gators figures to be the Sugar Bowl.

Earlier in the day, No. 5 Cincinnati kept its national championship hopes alive — at least for a few more hours.

The Bearcats (12-0) pulled off a stunning rally to beat Pittsburgh 45-44 and lock up the Big East title and a spot in the Bowl Championship Series.

At worst, Cincinnati and coach Brian Kelly can expect an invite to the Orange or Sugar Bowl. And if Colt McCoy and Texas were to stumble against the Cornhuskers, the Bearcats could vault into the national championship game.

Not long after the Bearcats wrapped up a thriller in the snow at Pittsburgh, the Gators and Crimson Tide kicked off the marquee game of the day in the Georgia Dome.

The Southeastern Conference championship, for the second year in a row, was a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown between Alabama and Florida.

Last year, Florida beat the Tide on the way to a national title. This year the Tide rolled, pulling away in the second half and dominating the Gators on both sides of the ball.

When it was over Tide fans chanted, the players bounced and Ingram and his teammates flaunted some conference pride, raising high the round SEC signs that had been scattered around the sidelines.

For the fourth straight season, the SEC will have a team in the national title game. The league has won the last three championships. The Tide will try to make it four straight, maybe in a second consecutive SEC-Big 12 championship matchup.

The real intrigue was at the Big 12 title game in Arlington, Texas. A Nebraska upset — Texas was a two-touchdown favorite — would make for a rare suspenseful selection Sunday for the BCS.

Would idle and No. 4 TCU (12-0), already a lock to be this season’s BCS buster, become the first team from a non-automatic qualifying conference to reach the national title game?

The Bearcats’ victory was bad news for the Horned Frogs, who could be in danger of being leapfrogged by Cincinnati when the final BCS standings come out Sunday.

TCU held a slim margin over Cincinnati in last week’s BCS standings.

“I think we got enough on our resume to play for the national title,” Cincinnati receiver Mardy Gilyard said. “We just have one little wrinkle to iron out, and that’s Nebraska taking care of Texas, we can argue the fact about strength of schedule with TCU, but it’s up to the voters and the computers now.”

Cincinnati made a spectacular — though far from flawless — case to play for a national title by coming from three touchdowns down to beat the Panthers, who were looking for their second BCS bid but will now have to settle for a spot in the Meineke Bowl.

Beating a ranked team on the road will do wonders for Cincinnati’s computer rating, which was already higher than TCU. But will it sway enough voters in the Harris and coaches’ polls?

The Bearcats’ victory also could add an interesting twist to college football’s other big story: Who will be Notre Dame’s next coach?

Kelly has been widely speculated to be a strong candidate and even told ESPN he would listen if Notre Dame wants to talk. But with his team headed to the BCS for a second straight season, it’s questionable how soon that conversation could occur.

Rest assured, it would not happen for awhile if the Bearcats have to prepare for a national championship game.

There was a chance a Texas loss could set up a rematch of the SEC title game for the national championship, if the Gators and Tide had played a close game.

Instead, Florida didn’t score in the second half and Ingram put up three touchdowns to bolster his Heisman campaign.

While the Bearcats and Horned Frogs were rooting against Texas, Boise State should be rooting for the Longhorns.

The Broncos, who beat New Mexico State 42-7 to complete an undefeated season, could get shut out of the BCS altogether if Nebraska plays its way in and Texas gets nudged into the at-large pool for the Orange, Fiesta and Sugar bowls.

The Rose Bowl is already set, with Ohio State to play Oregon.

The winner of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game Saturday night between Georgia Tech and Clemson earns a spot in the Orange Bowl.

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