Trying to decipher LSU’s BCS prospects aren’t easy.
For one thing, it involves a lot of math, and as has often been said, those who cannot do math, write. But let’s give it a whirl:
Assuming LSU beats Ole Miss on Saturday - a fairly safe assumption unless most of the Tigers get food poisoning from their grits Saturday morning - there are three possibilities:
LSU WINS OUT: The BCS formula can be confusing, but on this point everyone can be clear. If the Tigers beat Ole Miss and Arkansas then Georgia (likely) in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, they will play in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 9 in New Orleans. LSU holds every No. 1 vote in the two human polls in the BCS formula (USA Today coaches’, Harris Interactive) and is tied for first in an average of the six BCS computer polls with fellow 10-0 Oklahoma State.
It would take an unfathomable change of heart by the BCS poll voters for LSU not to maintain status quo. LSU’s opponent: Oklahoma State if it wins out, Oklahoma, Alabama or Oregon if the Sooners beat the Cowboys Dec. 3.
LSU LOSES TO ARKANSAS: The Tigers reached the BCS championship game in the 2007 season despite losing to Arkansas in triple OT in its regular-season finale. LSU did that because it had already clinched the SEC West and went on to beat Tennessee in the SEC Championship game.
Assuming Arkansas beats Mississippi State and Alabama beats Auburn next week, LSU, Arkansas and Alabama would all wind up 11-1 overall (Bama must also beat 9-1 Georgia Southern) and 7-1 in the SEC West. Such a three-way tie would burn through all the tiebreakers down to the last one: highest BCS ranking.
Despite losing to LSU, one should assume Alabama (currently No. 3 in the BCS) moves ahead of the Tigers by finishing stronger. LSU could still reach the SEC Championship game - usually a vital stepping stone to the BCS title game - if it remains within five spots of Bama in the BCS standings because it beat the Crimson Tide, but only if it stays ahead of Arkansas (currently No. 6).
LSU BEATS OLE MISS AND ARKANSAS, LOSES SEC TITLE GAME: Oklahoma lost the 2003 Big 12 title game to Kansas State in a rout (35-7) but still played LSU in the Sugar Bowl for the BCS title because it was so strong in the BCS computers. It’s a different formula now. Certainly not winning its conference title would weigh heavily against LSU, so much so that a 12-1 LSU team could be left out of the BCS entirely.
Assuming Georgia is SEC champion, the Bulldogs would go to the Sugar Bowl, leaving another BCS bowl to pick between 12-1 LSU and 11-1 Alabama.
Bama might even get in the BCS title game under the right circumstances, thus sending LSU to the Capital One Bowl. Remember, no conference can have more than two teams in BCS bowls.