At the end of the original “Rocky” movie, an exhausted Apollo Creed whispers to Rocky Balboa, “Ain’t gonna be no rematch.”
Rocky’s reply: “Don’t want one.”
Of course, there was a rematch. And sequel after sequel after sequel.
As soon as Saturday’s heavyweight bout between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama is over, the questions will likely begin:
Could there be a rematch in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 9 in New Orleans? Could there actually be a sequel to what is being touted as the game of the new century?
While poll voters and college football fans typically disparage rematches, a sequel between the Tigers and Crimson Tide in the Jan. 9 national championship game in New Orleans is at least a credible possibility, according to ESPN BCS analyst Brad Edwards.
That’s especially true if LSU comes out on the short end in Saturday’s game in Tuscaloosa, Ala., he said, for two reasons.
“First, the road team may be more forgiven by the human voters for a loss,” Edwards said. “Second, because LSU has so many points in the polls, is ranked higher (than Alabama), so theoretically it wouldn’t fall as far in a close game. They’re more highly thought of right now.”
Conversely, a loss by Alabama reduces the prospect of a rematch to a much lower percentage.
“I can’t say with this many weeks left that there’s no way Alabama doesn’t get back in it if they lose,” Edwards said, “but a rematch scenario is much more likely with an LSU loss.”
Of course, the LSU-Alabama loser’s chances are predicated on enough other BCS contenders getting knocked off.
For the sake of argument, assume that BCS No. 3 Oklahoma State wins at home over No. 14 Kansas State on Saturday, while BCS No. 4 Stanford wins at 2-6 Oregon State.
Edwards believes the LSU-Bama loser would fall behind those teams, but if the game is close the Tigers or Crimson Tide may stay ahead of BCS No. 5 Boise State. The Broncos play at 2-5 UNLV on Saturday.
Boise has a surprisingly strong No. 4 overall ranking with the BCS computers, but it’s not likely to last because of lowly teams like UNLV and 0-8 New Mexico remaining on its schedule.
“Any team with one loss from the SEC or Big 12 is likely to be ranked ahead of Boise State in the BCS computers,” Edwards said. “Even if Boise was to get to the top two in the polls, it would be very tough for them to stay there (in the BCS).”
The last time there was a 1-2 regular season matchup, No. 1 Ohio State beat No. 2 Michigan 42-39 at the end of the 2006 season, there was also talk of a potential rematch in the inaugural BCS National Championship Game.
That talk quickly fizzled after a one-loss Florida team beat Arkansas 38-28 in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, putting the Gators in the BCS title game at No. 2. Florida went on to beat Ohio State for the BCS title while Michigan went to the Rose Bowl.
Edwards said there are two reasons the talk is different this time for LSU and/or Alabama.
“The big difference is the Big Ten hadn’t won five straight national titles” in 2006, Edwards said.
“Everything that’s happened in the last five years in the SEC leads more people to believe that these are the two best teams.”
Another factor is the fact that the LSU-Alabama game falls early in the schedule compared to the showdown between No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Alabama in the 2009 SEC Championship Game.
“If this were Alabama-Florida from a couple of years go, there would be the feeling that this is a national semifinal and that there’s no need for a rematch,” said Edwards, an Alabama graduate who was born in Mississippi and has family ties to Louisiana.
“With this much time to go, it’s harder to declare that this is a true national semifinal.”
Edwards will be on campus at Alabama on Saturday as part of ESPN Radio’s “College Game Day” crew from 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m.