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December 4, 2011

HURT: LSU does its part to help Tide

With the exception of its head coach, Nick Saban making a morning appearance on ESPN, the University of Alabama wasn't able to state its own case for a BCS Championship rematch with LSU. Alabama has only itself to blame for that, of course.

Instead, the Crimson Tide had to rely on its strongest advocate: LSU.

The Tigers, after a disinterested first half, demolished Georgia 42-10 in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game in Atlanta, proving yet again what all of America knows, even if it doesn't care to admit it: The only team likely to stay with LSU is the one that battled the Tigers on even terms for 60-plus minutes on Nov. 5. The Tigers had a great regular season, they deserve their berth in New Orleans and they could very well win their third Bowl Championship Series title in the past decade regardless of the opposition. By far the most likely team to prevent that, or make for a competitive evening of football, is Alabama.

That doesn't necessarily mean that UA will get a chance, even though it is one of the two best teams in America. Plenty of voters would rather see yet another game along the lines of LSU-Arkansas or LSU-Georgia, and while people will say "you never know until they play," feel free to clip and save this column until Jan. 10 if the Tigers end up playing Oklahoma State. I will make this an official prediction - LSU by three scores or more if it plays the Cowboys, unless it's the Dallas Cowboys. That might be a pick-'em.

Unless teams can match up physically with LSU, they have no chance. The problem is that teams deceive themselves into thinking they can match up. Georgia engaged in some of that self-deception this week, only to wake up in the third quarter and discover that it was actually in a football game against a physical team. That ended that as abruptly as if there had been a blackout in the Georgia Dome.

The end result in Atlanta - coupled with LSU's regular-season wins over the Pac-12 champion (Oregon) and the likely Big East champion (West Virginia) - should have ended any debate about the best team in America right now being LSU, and the one team that could match up with LSU physically being the Crimson Tide. Alabama has a better BCS-standings win (Arkansas) than any on Oklahoma State's resume, and the loss (LSU vs. Iowa State) isn't even remotely comparable.

Human voters, though, do funny things. So we will see what they do today. If, however, they decide to break with the "two best teams" concept for some reason that lies outside the BCS mission - a mission that says nothing about "no rematch" - then let's go ahead and codify that anti-rematch language into the criteria, to make sure we never have an Ohio State-Michigan title game, or Oklahoma-Texas or Oregon-USC. If "no rematch" is something that the voters must enforce, then make it a clear-cut rule and change the BCS mission to state "the two best teams, unless … ." Then everyone will know where they stand.


Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil.hurt@tuscaloosanews,com or 205-722-0225.


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