Save your arguments for/against Ohio State, Auburn or Oregon in the BCS follies. LSU is in the worst shape of all the contenders this weekend.
First, it has to play a game, unlike Penn State, which can lounge on the couch and hope for an upset that could propel it into the Rose Bowl. LSU faces a gut-buster in the SEC title game against Georgia, deep in the heart of Bulldog territory in Atlanta.
Second, though LSU has lost only once, it came at home against putrid Tennessee, which rallied, from a 21-0 deficit in LSU's emotional home opener.
|LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell welcoming Fats Domino into his home? All part of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath. (AP)|
Odds of that happening? The bidding starts at a million-to-one.
Not that the Tigers haven't beaten life's point spread before this season. Their souls, families and homes were ripped apart by two hurricanes. The start of their season was delayed deep into September.
They have had to play 10 consecutive games, averaging a contest every 6½ days since Sept. 26.
They're heroes. They're exhausted. And despite being No. 4 in the BCS, they have virtually no chance of getting to Pasadena.
These Tigers deserve something for their efforts. They won five games by four points or fewer. Their three overtime games tied Iowa State for the most played by a team.
They could win the SEC, their bowl, finish 12-1 and not have one first-team All-American on any of the major teams that matter (FWAA, AP, etc.).
Their biggest opponent was a cataclysmic natural disaster. Their MVP was their resolve.
"All of our backgrounds in coaching are to eliminate distractions, that's the standard rule," said Les Miles, the Tigers' first-year coach. "In this particular instance you could not deny it. Helicopters were going overhead. There were volunteers, armed forces. There was no denying a real-life drama going on outside of us."
Their sanctuary was the practice field. Random relatives of players would walk into the football office asking how to find their loved ones.
Several players worked with the displaced, organizing clothing and food drives. Although New Orleans is 90 miles away, in a lot of ways, it came to rest on their front porch.
That Tennessee loss is really the difference between a good season and a screenplay being written about it. On that Monday night, the Tigers sprinted out to a three-touchdown lead, only to give it up in overtime to the immortal (not!) Rick Clausen.
"Certainly with a different start, we could be an undefeated LSU team," Miles said.
No one is blaming Miles, not now. He deserves some kind of coaching purple heart for this effort. The man is only 52, has been a head coach for only five years but his career can't ever get any harder than it was 2005.
"It's going to enrich my coaching career, my personal experience," he said. "I don't know if it will be accurately described, what happened among these young men -- ever."
Armageddon Scenario: Just for fun, let's step outside into the nuclear winter if everything all falls apart. Listen up ...
If all the favorites win, here's how the BCS bowls will play out:
Rose: Texas vs. USC*
Fiesta: Notre Dame vs. Ohio State
Sugar: LSU vs. West Virginia*
Orange: Virginia Tech vs. Penn State*
*--already clinched BCS bowl berths
Now consider a scenario in which Texas and USC lose. We're projecting that Texas would probably drop out of the top two but remain an automatic at-large team by staying in the top four. There is debate whether USC, especially with a close loss to UCLA, would drop out of the top two. Like Nebraska in 2001 and Oklahoma in 2003, the Trojans could lose their final game and still play for the national championship.
If USC and Texas both lose, what should the Rose Bowl matchup be?
USC vs. Texas
LSU vs. Penn State
Penn State vs. Oregon
Virginia Tech vs. LSU
Total Votes: 12,131
Rose: USC vs. Penn State
Fiesta: Colorado vs. West Virginia
Sugar: LSU vs. Texas
Orange: Notre Dame vs. Virginia Tech
If USC drops below No. 2, look for it to end up this way:
Rose: LSU vs. Penn State
Fiesta: Colorado vs. USC
Sugar: Notre Dame vs. West Virginia
Orange: Texas vs. Virginia Tech
Now, let's say all the favorites lose -- USC, Texas, Virginia Tech and LSU. Here's the lineup:
Rose: Penn State vs. USC
Fiesta: Colorado vs. West Virginia
Sugar: Georgia vs. Texas
Orange: Notre Dame vs. Florida State
All of this is another way of saying that unless Nike chairman and Oregon benefactor Phil Knight actually buys a Fiesta Bowl title sponsorship, the Ducks still aren't waddling to the desert.
We'll say it again: One of the best stories of the year is Central Florida (8-3). With a victory over Tulsa in the Conference USA title game, it will match the 1999 Hawaii team for the biggest turnaround (8½ games) in NCAA history. UCF started 0-2.
Never Mind: Before it wins another Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, Navy had to find it first.
On Monday, Navy accused Army of stealing the 170-pound award given to the winner of the football round robin between the service academies.
The Middies even went so far as to say a note had been left saying, "by the time you read this, (the trophy) will be halfway to West Point."
"I don't want to be known as the only service academy athletic director to lose the trophy," Navy AD Chet Gladchuk said.
Oops. Turns out the C-I-C wasn't even out the door. It was in a storage area in Bancroft Hall, which houses 4,000 Midshipmen. After an exhaustive search by Navy SEALS -- OK, it was an anonymous tip -- Navy found the hardware.
Army is trying to win the award, not steal it, for the first time since 1996.
In Da Club: Yes, 50 Cent's rap hit has been downloaded into Mack Brown's iPod. It's fitting.
If Texas beats Colorado, Brown will claim his first conference title in a 22-year coaching career. Another first: Texas will complete its first 12-win season. It hasn't gone through the regular season undefeated since 1983.
- Vince Young needs 207 rushing yards against Colorado to become the first I-A player to surpass 2,500 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in a season.
- A USC victory would tie Miami for the longest I-A winning streak (34 games) since 1971. That year Toledo completed a 35-game winning streak.
- Texas has allowed only two 100-yard rushers this season.
- USC is the first team ever with a 3,000-yard passer (Matt Leinart), two 1,000-yard rushers (LenDale White and Reggie Bush) and a 1,000-yard receiver (Dwayne Jarrett).
Etc: One of the stories to watch going into 2006 will be how Louisville's Brian Brohm recovers from a torn ACL suffered last week against Syracuse. Freshman Hunter Cantwell will start Saturday against Connecticut ... Georgia's Mark Richt is the ninth coach in I-A history to win at least 50 games in his first five seasons (51-12) ... Georgia is losing 13 seniors. They could be the school's second class to go through four consecutive seasons on a team ranked in the AP top 10. The 1983 class was the other ... All five USC offensive linemen made at least honorable-mention all-Pac 10 ... Army senior running back Carlton Jones has become the academy's No. 2 career rusher, passing Glenn Davis, Doc Blanchard and Pete Dawkins.