Rest easy, LSU fans. If you can.
This time, the Tigers’ reward for beating Alabama tonight won’t be another rematch with the Crimson Tide in the BCS Championship game.
Been there, sure don’t wanna do that again.
But at the same time, the odds are against LSU making a return trip to the title match against anyone else.
Welcome to the always-
mysterious ways of the BCS.
Alabama’s 21-0 victory against the Tigers in January not only left such a sour taste in poll voters’ mouths that many vowed they would never again let it happen again, but it was the final straw in college football’s power brokers finally relenting to a playoff starting in 2014.
But beyond all of that, there are three strong unbeatens ahead of Tigers — Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon. And if all three, or even just two of them stay that way, the coaches who make up the USA Today voting panel and the mixed bag who comprise the Harris Poll electorate aren’t going to move a once-beaten LSU ahead of them.
At least that’s the view of BCS guru Jerry Palm of CBS Sports.
Never, Palm points out, has a once-beaten team made the championship game over an unbeaten one from a major conference.
The closest that came to happening was in 1999, when Virginia Tech edged out once-beaten Nebraska for No. 2 in the standings. But even then, the Hokies finished ahead of the Cornhuskers in both the computers and the polls.
“The voters look at zeroes,” Palm said. “They’re just not going to vote a once-beaten team ahead of one that doesn’t have a loss.”
That could mean no Southeastern Conference team, including Alabama, should it win tonight but lose one of its remaining games, playing for the national championship. A BCS title game without an SEC team hasn’t happened since 2005.
Of course, the unexpected can and just about always does happen with the BCS.
Last year, after LSU beat Alabama, Oklahoma State, Stanford and Boise State all remained unbeaten.
But in short order, they all lost games in which they were heavily favored. Then, in the end, enough poll voters placed the Crimson Tide ahead of the Cowboys to overcome Okie State’s advantage in the computers.
And consider 2007, when West Virginia was beaten by 4-7 Pittsburgh in its finale, opening the door to the title game for twice-beaten LSU.
This time, though, Les Miles may have run out of shamrocks.
Notre Dame, Kansas State and Oregon all will be favored in their remaining games, although both the Fighting Irish and the Ducks have to go on the road against a Southern California team that you might remember started the year ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press poll, while Kansas State has 5-2 Oklahoma State and 6-2 Texas remaining, albeit both at home.
“They’re all playing at a high level,” Palm said. “There’s a good chance that they’ll all get through.”
If that happens, Palm sees Oregon finishing atop the trio, followed by K-State and Notre Dame, chiefly because that’s the way the voters now have them ranked.
LSU’s likely best-case scenario then would be playing in the Sugar Bowl as the SEC champion, probably against Notre Dame.
Not another shot at the title. But not too bad, either.
And definitely better than trying to beat Bama twice in one season again.
Just doing it once is tough enough.
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