Lurking around the top ten of the BCS for the past few weeks has been 1-loss LSU, who’s only stumble, of course, was to us. Although many in the conference (and the nation) thought that LSU undeserving of such a lofty ranking considering some of the close games they’ve had, the Purple Tigers still managed big wins against Florida (not looking so hot now) and Alabama recently. Many thought the Bayou Bengals could be some version of a BCS Buster themselves, poised to jump the undefeated mid-majors Boise and TCU, or maybe even slip ahead of Auburn should they have stumbled–a controversial notion considering the head-to-head competition. But never put anything past the voters. With the controversy surrounding Cam Newton, many in CFB might look for the slightest of provocations to drop Auburn in the polls like a rock, possibly allowing LSU, a team eliminated from the SEC CG two weeks ago when we beat Georgia, from going to a better bowl than us–a horrid thought on Blue Tiger fans’ minds.
Not that it would happen. In the BCS era, we’ve never had an issue where a team precluded from playing in it’s conference title match has ever been elevated above one of the participants of that game–especially the winner. I think that the protocol in the minds of most rational football experts is that you can’t reward a team who failed to qualify for that post-season conference playoff. But in an almost similar incident after the 2006 season when undefeated Michigan lost to undefeated Ohio State on the last game of their Big 10 schedules, there was significant national sentiment to let them both square off in a rematch in the BCS title game, so the voters are apt to try just about anything. Only after Florida got enough oomph from the SEC CG by beating Arkansas and got some other breaks were they able to get the chance to face off with the Bucks for all the marbles.
The most egregious case of BCS inequity came in 2003, after undefeated Oklahoma went into the Big 12 CG and got absolutely waxed by Kansas State 35-7, but still was able to retain enough BCS points to go the Sugar Bowl and play for the national championship against 12-1 LSU over a one-loss USC team. Many felt that USC was hosed, considering that OU lost so late, but the voters apparently saw fit not to penalize the Sooners for their conference loss. Nevertheless, the precedent was established. Justice was served, however, when LSU beat the Sooners for the BCS crown. USC, who beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, was able to garner sympathy from the AP and got their nod for the national championship, the last split tile in the BCS era.
As far as LSU, they were hoping to somehow manage to backdoor their way into the BCS CG, even though it would have been quite the longshot. An Auburn loss to Alabama, followed by one to a 9-3 South Carolina team in Atlanta would have been all the conference developments needed to make them the big dog in the SEC in spite of not winning it. S.Carolina would have gotten the other BCS bowl by virtue of winning the conference, but LSU would still be alive. Their next hope was that both TCU and Boise both lost, and improbably, Boise did. But Auburn won, eliminating the paper-thin chain of events LSU needed to transpire.
But it was all for naught, it never was going to happen–all their hoping, planning and scheming–as LSU prepared to go into Little Rock and take on Arkansas. They were never getting out of this game alive. I predicted it weeks ago. Arkansas destroyed them not only through the air, but on the ground, too. I’ve thought all along that Arkansas was the number two team in the west, and they very easily could have won it, their only two close losses to teams from the Yellowhammer state. LSU and Miles’ luck has run out, run all the way to the Capital One Bowl probably. A great defensive unit, their offense only worked half the time, and in the end, it couldn’t cut it.
Now Arkansas piggies need to become the biggest Auburn fans that they possibly can. In order for them to hang on to their #2- team-in-the-SEC slot, Arkansas needs Auburn to beat the Gamecocks and go on to Glendale, leaving the Razorbacks to go to the Sugar Bowl for a great game probably against Ohio State. If Spurrier manages a win in Atlanta, then they go to one BCS game and Auburn to the other, with the Tigers still being ranked way ahead of Arkansas in the BCS. Or maybe not?
If Auburn were to lose to Carolina, could we see a repeat of 2003 and have them still get their ticket punched to the BCS title game? I’d rather not have that dilemna and just have Auburn put Spurrier and company out of their misery, but you never know. Had Boise not lost this weekend, I’d say that it would be impossible, that one of the two mid-majors would be elevated to play Oregon. But with the Cinderella Broncos eliminated and TCU not an attractive choice for the BCS championship game, it would make you wonder!