Today, the nation's top-ranked team from LSU will visit the worst team in the SEC, an Ole Miss team coming off a three-touchdown loss to a school from Louisiana that's not called LSU (a 27-7 loss to Louisiana Tech), which we know means they lost to a team that's light years behind the only power conference program in our state.
With that in mind, despite what Iowa State did to Oklahoma State Friday night, it's hard to look at LSU as a team in any kind of jeopardy today.
But what strikes me is, as we head for the stretch run to the season, LSU is in a spot that's as vulnerable as anybody who harbors BCS championship game hopes. After today's game in Oxford completes LSU's two-week post-Alabama hangover stretch, LSU will start perhaps it's toughest two weeks of the season with Arkansas next week then, if enough goes well, Georgia in Atlanta in the SEC championship game.
Toughest two-week stretch? You better believe it.
Entering the weekend, Arkansas and Georgia are a combined 17-3 and both remain in contention to win their divisions in the mighty SEC. At 9-1, Arkansas remains a dark horse in the national title picture.
At 8-2, Georgia could be even more dangerous in the SEC championship game. Not only will the game be a mere hour from Athens - the same advantage LSU would enjoy if it were to reach the BCS championship game in New Orleans - but the Bulldogs could go into the game on the high of a 10-game winning streak with little to lose in a no-pressure game they aren't expected to win. Make no mistake, Georgia's defensive improvements make it a team that in no way resembles the team that gave up 80 points in consecutive losses to Boise State and South Carolina to start the season.
No, neither Arkansas nor Georgia will be the best team LSU has played. I'd put them third and fourth on the list behind Alabama and Oregon (Arkansas' only loss was a 38-14 thumping at the hands of Alabama). But there was a different context to both the Oregon and Alabama games that allowed the Tigers to build up to those games, then recover.
In the case of LSU's 40-27 win over Oregon on Sept. 3, it was a season-opener that allowed the Tigers a chance to build up to the big game. The Northwestern State game the next week allowed the Tigers to come down off the high with little chance of being bitten. The same was true with the 9-6 overtime win over the Tide. LSU had its bye the week prior to the Nov. 5 game in Tuscaloosa, then was able to deal with its hangover while hosting Sun Belt Conference member Western Kentucky last weekend.
That won't be the case this time. It's Arkansas then right to Atlanta (assuming LSU gets there). It would be the first time LSU will have had to play teams this good on consecutive weeks.
That makes LSU's remaining schedule the toughest among remaining serious BCS contenders save Arkansas, which faces the task of having to win at LSU to give itself a chance to play Georgia (which, by the way, has to beat Kentucky today to get to the championship game).
Oklahoma has a huring Oklahoma State in The Bedlam Series next week. While that is no easy out for either team and is perhaps the toughest remaining game for any BCS contender (that's true for both teams) the Big 12 does not have a championship game this year, so there's no Georgia to follow the big end-of-season game.
Oregon's game today against USC is no automatic win, but the Ducks won't have to play USC again in the Pac 12 championship game because the Trojans are ineligible. Instead, Oregon will likely play a middling team like Arizona State or UCLA and the Ducks would be at home, no small advantage.
Alabama has a relatively easy stretch with Georgia Southern followed by an Iron Bowl matchup against an Auburn team that hardly bears a resemblance to the Cam Newton/Nick Fairley national championship bunch of a season ago.
The Tide could have to also go to Atlanta if LSU loses. If there's a three-way tie for the SEC West between LSU, Alabama and Arkansas, the team with best BCS ranking goes to the game. Even then, that would be one tough game. It's hard to say who would win that tie-breaker right now.
Of the remaining six prime BCS contenders, LSU and Arkansas are the only ones who face the possibility of playing against two BCS top 15 teams before the season's end.
If LSU does lose one of its remaining games it would not be eliminated from national title contention and with OSU losing Friday, it simply would join a long list of one-lost teams comparing resumes.
One need only look back to LSU's last national title - 2007, when LSU lost its regular-season finale to Arkansas but still advanced to, and won, the SEC championship and BCS title game - for an example of a late loss not derailing title hopes. But a loss makes advancing to the big game far from a given, especially considering the human element of the polls. If LSU fails to win the conference championship game, you can bet there would be many voters who would want to make sure LSU is not rewarded with a trip to the BCS title game.
Here's a scenario: What if LSU loses and the BCS ends up putting Oregon and Alabama, two teams LSU beat, in the championship game? Then you'd have a distinct chance of a split national championship if sympathetic AP voters choose LSU over either BCS title game team. That's a pipe dream of many playoff proponents.
But that's getting ahead of ourselves. Here's the real take-away to all this: For a lot of you lay fans, you assumed that the Win of the Century meant LSU was destined to play for a title. Truth is, we're still a long way from being able to say that.
Just ask Oklahoma State.