FISCHER: Outside the Box
Analyzing LSU’s bowl possibilities
By RICHARD FISCHER
Tiger Rag Assistant Editor
LSU’s regular season may be over, but speculation on where the Tigers may land in a bowl game is only heating up.
Even after the season-ending loss to Arkansas, it is still likely that the 10-2 Tigers will find themselves in a New Year’s Day Bowl, but should Tiger faithful book its post-Christmas vacation for Texas, Florida or Georgia?
Just like you, I have no idea where LSU will compete in the post-season, but since it’s fun to break down all the different possibilities, let’s go through them all right here.
What could really throw a wrench into everyone’s plans is if South Carolina beats Auburn and earns a Sugar Bowl bid, but for now I’ll assume the Tigers take down the Gamecocks and earn a trip to the BCS Championship Game.
If that happens, expect Arkansas (No. 7 BCS) to go to the Sugar Bowl as the final at-large team to receive a BCS bowl bid.
The Capital One Bowl gets the first selection after the BCS, and I expect them to choose Alabama.
Orlando’s bowl has not selected the same SEC team in consecutive seasons since Tennessee in 1996-97. Add the fact that Orlando hasn’t had Alabama since 1995, and the Tide will probably get the nod over the Tigers here. Michigan State should be the opponent.
The next selections are made by the Cotton and Outback Bowls, with the Cotton usually taking a team from the West and the Outback usually taking a team from the East.
Will the Cotton Bowl overlook the fact that LSU will open next season in the same stadium against Oregon? I think so, because the Cotton Bowl stands alone on Jan. 7 as an appetizer for the national championship, and with the national stage to itself, an LSU selection would generate much more national buzz than a Mississippi State pick.
A Big 12 school would await in northeast Texas, and with five teams at 6-2 in conference and four at 10-2 overall, the Big 12 bowl picture looks even muddier than the SEC’s. My guess: Missouri gets the nod regardless of who wins the Big 12 title.
If LSU goes to the Cotton, expect South Carolina to get picked up by the Outback, while State falls to the Chick-Fil-A.
But what if South Carolina shocks the world and wins the SEC Championship?
The Sugar Bowl would take the Gamecocks as SEC champs, but the big question will be how far will Auburn fall?
The BCS at-large committee will take the school that ranks higher in the final BCS standings between Auburn and Arkansas, and Auburn probably won’t fall all the way past No. 7. Therefore, Auburn is probably in the BCS win or lose Saturday.
This would make the Hogs the big losers, knocking them out of the BCS altogether, because the SEC (or any conference) can’t have more than two BCS bowl bids.
Now assuming the Capital One sticks with Alabama over Arkansas, because the Tide beat the Hogs head-to-head and Tuscaloosa is a much easier trip to Orlando than Fayetteville, the Cotton Bowl will have an interesting choice between Arkansas and LSU.
Both teams will have played a neutral site game there within the calendar year, and both have quite a bit of history in the Cotton Bowl. Tough pick, but I expect northeast Texas to take Arkansas. The Hogs own a head-to-head win over LSU, and don’t discount the fact that the game will be played in “Jerry World” where owner Jerry Jones in a proud Arkansas grad.
Now, the Outback Bowl, who usually takes an eastern squad, would have to choose between a two-loss LSU team or a five-loss Florida team.
I expect Tampa to buck its trend two years in a row and select LSU, because this may be its best chance to get the Tigers while they’re at the top of college football.
But if Tampa chooses the Gators, there’s no way LSU slips past the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, and State will likely fall to the Gator Bowl.
So in a nutshell, if Auburn wins Saturday, LSU will go to the Cotton Bowl vs. Missouri, and if Auburn loses, LSU will head to the Outback Bowl vs. Iowa.
Get your vacation plans ready, but don’t do any booking until we find out for sure Dec. 5.
Just have your finger on the mouse ready to click, as I can only speculate with the best of them.