In 2007, LSU lost to Arkansas, effectively killing any chance the team had of winning the national title. And then a funny thing happened, everybody else lost, too. Somehow, defying the odds, LSU because the first two-loss national champion of the BCS era.
Can lightning strike twice? Probably not, but it's fun to speculate.* So, how can this miracle happen? There are actually a lot of scenarios, but really, they are variations of two basic scenarios. Let's look at them both.
*All right, almost certainly not. But let's have fun anyway. Please do not take the following too seriously. It's about as likely as winning the Power Ball lottery.
SCENARIO ONE: LSU WINS THE SEC
Hey, it could happen. All you need is the biggest college football upset of the past decade. They always say you can throw out the record books for the Iron Bowl, so let's see them prove it. Alabama is the #2 team in the country and on course of the BCS title game while Auburn is winless in the SEC. It's hard to truly articulate how massive of an upset this would be, but it would be the kind of upset people would talk about for decades. It would be truly historic and easily the biggest upset in the Iron Bowl's history. Even then, LSU would need help. A&M would have to beat Mizzou to create a three-way tie atop the West to trigger a tiebreaker scenario LSU could actually win.
If this miracle occurs and LSU then wins out, LSU will have a pretty impressive resume. The SEC has six "elite" level teams and in this scenario, LSU will have played all of them (well, except for themselves). To put that in perspective, Alabama will have played two. In fact, as of right now, only two SEC teams have multiple wins over the top six: LSU (2) and Florida (3).
You see the problem, don't you? LSU loses the resume test against Florida, even with the SEC title. Florida would have as many big SEC wins and a one-loss Florida team would also have a marquee win over Florida St. LSU absolutely needs Florida to lose. Heck, we need them to lose just to make a BCS bowl. Outside of the Arkansas game, there is no more important game to Tiger fans left on the schedule than FSU-Florida. Go Noles. A Florida win pretty much kills any BCS dream for LSU, forget about the remote chance at Miami.
OK, in this scenario, now every SEC team has two losses and LSU is the conference champion. We would be the highest ranked SEC team and we'd have a pretty impressive resume even with the two losses due to the incredible strength of schedule. But there's still the problem of three one-loss teams out there: Kansas St, Oregon, and Florida St.
Notre Dame losing to USC couldn't hurt, but it's not really that important. A big Notre Dame loss could open up a slot in the title game, but likely LSU should focus on jumping the three current one-loss teams. How does this happen?
Kansas St. has to lose again. The Big 12 is too strong and they have that quality win against Miami. I get that it's not THAT impressive, but it showed some scheduling guts. Also, the computers still love KSU, even with a three score loss to Baylor. I just don't see how LSU jumps them without help.
Oregon and FSU, on the other hand, LSU might jump without either of them losing. Obviously, losses help (Go Beavers!), but neither team will have a resume that stacks up to LSU's. The computers hate Florida St right now, though a Florida win will give them a boost. So would a Clemson win over South Carolina, which would increase the value of their biggest win and decrease the value of LSU's win. So root for the Gamecocks, it might be one of those subtle games that has a huge impact on the computers.
Oregon, I believe, needs to win the Pac-12. If Stanford loses to UCLA this weekend, then the Ducks can get back to the title game. That will give them one more chance to get a quality win, and an Pac-12 champion Oregon squad with wins over Washington, Oregon St, and UCLA will be impossible for LSU to jump over. However, a one loss Oregon squad without a conference title and only two top 25 wins (Washington and Oregon St) might not have the votes to stay ahead of a SEC champion LSU squad. Additionally, Oregon's second best win (Washington) would be LSU's fourth best win (behind Georgia, A&M, and South Carolina). LSU could jump over a non-champion Oregon who lacks a quality win over UCLA.
It could happen. Just saying. But the most unlikely thing is the first part: Bama losing to Auburn. I just don't see that happening. So that leads to scenario two...
SCENARIO TWO: SOME PEOPLE WANT TO WATCH THE WORLD BURN
Under Scenario One, there's lots of fuzzy math. LSU doesn't quite need one thing to happen, they would like something to happen, but if not, there might be another avenue. If Alabama beats Auburn, as they almost certainly will, then LSU needs absolutely friggin' chaos. And honestly, there are no fuzzy scenarios. LSU pretty much needs all of the following things to happen:
- Florida St must beat Florida, of course. That's always the starting point.
- LSU becomes the biggest Ramblin' Wreck fans on the planet. LSU needs Georgia Tech to suddenly get a lot better and pull consecutive upsets of Georgia and then Florida St in the ACC title game.
- After losing to Georgia Tech, Georgia needs to then turn it around and beat Alabama in the SEC title game.
- Kansas St. has to lose to Texas.
- Notre Dame needs to lose to USC, preferably by double digits. Nothing like dropping a game to a backup quarterback to impress the pollsters.
- Oregon needs to lose again, whether it is to Oregon St or in the Pac-12 title game to UCLA.
- Just for good measure, let's have South Carolina beat Clemson just to keep up our schedule strength.
Now, let's survey the damage.
The SEC has a two-loss champion in Georgia and no other one-loss teams. Florida St, Kansas St, and Oregon all have two losses. Notre Dame has one loss, but it came in the final weekend against a team spiraling out of control.
Under this scenario, who the hell is ranked in the top two? I mean, I'm genuinely asking. Your conference champions are Georgia Tech, Georgia, UCLA, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. OK, Rutgers or Louisville has one loss and the Big East title, but no one wants them in the title game. The polls would be chaos and it would be anyone's guess who would make the title game.
And where there is chaos, there is Les Miles. Sure, it's incredibly unlikely, but so was 2007. And this scenario doesn't require Auburn playing a decent football game. There's almost no chance this happens, but hey, it's fun to consider the possibilities.
What's Delusional Optimism without a healthy dose of delusion?