LSU could spoil Alabama’s coronation party with a win this Saturday. Most experts are picking the Tide to roll through the regular season without a loss.
What if LSU wins Saturday night in Death Valley?
See the column by Ralph Russo below.
A BCS championship game without a Southeastern Conference team?
It could happen, and LSU could be the cause.
The fifth-ranked Tigers host No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, another huge game in a rivalry that has become the biggest event in college football.
“It’s obvious when you walk into the room that certainly we’re playing a different team,” LSU coach Les Miles said this week. “It’s a little fuller, and there’s a little more attention to detail. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.
The SEC has won the last six BCS championships, and the Crimson Tide has been rolling toward a third BCS title game in four seasons.
Last season, losing 9-6 in overtime to LSU at home didn’t keep Alabama out of the championship game, which it won 21-0 in an all-SEC rematch with the Tigers.
But last year, Alabama got a break when LSU was the only unbeaten team in major college football. Matched against other one-loss teams, specifically Oklahoma State, the Tide got the nod.
Right now, a second chance doesn’t seem likely. There are three undefeated teams right behind the Tide in the BCS standings.
Alabama is the only remaining unbeaten team in the SEC. A loss to LSU — or any loss for that matter, though this is the biggest hurdle — would likely drop the Tide behind the other highly ranked unbeaten teams. That is assuming Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame all stay unbeaten.
Even more potentially problematic for Alabama, a loss to LSU puts the Tide behind the Tigers in the SEC West race. With a victory, LSU would become the SEC team best positioned to play in the national title game. Georgia and Florida would also be in the mix if either could win the SEC championship with only one overall loss.
But with one loss, the SEC champion is going to need help in the form of losses by at least two of the other big three.
This might seem like heresy to SEC fans, but in some ways it would be fitting. Only the SEC can keep the SEC from winning a national title. It’s this scenario that made SEC Commissioner Mike Slive push for a playoff.
As for the other three unbeatens, this weekend is a mixed bag.
No. 2 Oregon (fourth in the BCS standings), plays at No. 18 Southern California. Even with the Trojans (6-2) not living up to their advanced billing, this will be the Ducks’ toughest challenge yet.
No. 3 Kansas State (second in the BCS) is home to face Oklahoma State (6-2). Using two freshmen quarterbacks hasn’t stopped the Cowboys from being one of the best offenses in the country. They lead the nation in yards per game at 586, and figure to be a good test for a tough Wildcats defense.
No. 4 Notre Dame (third in the BCS) has what looks to be the easiest game, with Pittsburgh (4-4) coming to South Bend, Ind. But the Fighting Irish have played close games all season, and the Panthers seem to be making progress under first-year coach Paul Chryst.