Tigers fans have known that their team’s title hopes depend on wether or not they can withstand the tide in November. Usually a win against Alabama equalizes any bad loss accrued previously. For example, the 2010 Tigers team defeated the Tide after losing to Auburn the week prior. A team that was able to matchup defensively with Alabama harboring NFL pro’s Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu , and Kelvin Sheppard.
After successfully crossing “Beat Bama” off the objective list, the problem came in the form of a loss in Arkansas to conclude their season. And would subsequently salvage their season by winning the Cotton Bowl. If LSU were to edge Alabama this Saturday, their train still has stops in Arkansas & College Station. Gaining wins in two tough environments during a three week road game stretch would cement this teams playoff spot.
All those things considered, it still means conquering one of the best team in college football. Alabama has been for the past decade. And the Tigers have been unable to achieve this feat in the past six seasons. The last time they were able to win came in 2011 where they finished the season undefeated. Only to get the rematch that they never really desired. Alabama crushed LSU in the BCS Championship game 21-0.
So what does this game actually mean for this years LSU Tiger team? Let’s analyze all possible scenarios. A WIN would likely result in LSU leapfrogging Bama and Clemson as the number one team in the country. They would also have to win-out in order to maintain this ranking, and assuming they do, would face the last team with a ticket to the playoff. As for Alabama, I would question anyone who would rank this team below the three spot. Because Clemson seems likely to finish undefeated, the committee might favor a perfect season over a one loss Alabama. Clemson’s schedule features numerous blowouts, but lacks a signature win. So its not inconceivable to rank Alabama ahead of an undefeated Clemson. A LOSS for the Tigers would knock them out of the playoff picture altogether. And its always the case when you belong to a conference saturated in teams laden with talent. The only way back into the dance would require winning out (in dominating fashion), and a loss by either Michigan or Norte Dame. Michigan might be the likely of the two to lose with Penn State and Ohio State left on their schedule. But if both of these teams finish the season with their records unblemished, it would mean LSU’s final game would be a reputable bowl appearance.
What this game means for the other team? Well… nothing really. A WIN means nothing more that, its just a win over a ranked opponent. The Tiger’s pose no threat to Alabama’s shot at missing the playoff because even A LOSS doesn’t knock them out of the top four. So this matchup means more to Ed Orgeron than it does to Nick Saban. Orgeron has been unable to beat Alabama during his tenure and there aren’t many coaches who have. The name of the man that has displayed an aptitude in dominating this matchup? Nick Saban (4-1 during his term as LSU HC), unfortunately for LSU, will be on the opposite sideline. College football in November will determine the playoff landscape starting with the matchup on Saturday night.