Last season, LSU traveled to Alabama for the "Game of the Century" on Nov. 5, 2011, only to participate in the sequel on Jan. 9, 2012 in the BCS National Championship Game.
Will the third meeting in a calendar year between the two SEC West juggernauts complete the trilogy on Nov. 3 and be the biggest game of the 2012 season now that LSU has a loss hanging over its head?
Of the regular season, yes.
LSU no longer controls its own destiny in the national title race, but a win over Alabama in Baton Rouge will go a long way towards re-establishing LSU as a legitimate national title contender, despite the 14-6 loss to Florida in the Swamp on Saturday.
People have a variety of opinions on the Tigers after the loss, but according to VegasInsider.com, they are favorites over No. 3 South Carolina this weekend in Baton Rouge and presumably will be again next week at Texas A&M.
They're expected to get to the Nov. 3 matchup with only one loss.
After watching this offense against Florida, and considering the speed and strength of South Carolina's defense, that may be too much of an assumption.
However, all of those big hotels in Las Vegas didn't build themselves.
Assuming that neither team stumbles between now and then, that game will still determine which team is top in the SEC West. That's essentially what the game meant last season, even though LSU's ranking will presumably look a little different this year than it did last year.
That doesn't take away how much the game would mean, though.
The winner will have the inside track towards winning the division and earning a spot in the SEC Championship Game and will establish priority over the loser in the national championship pecking order.
A date with a Top Five and perhaps even undefeated SEC East champion could await them in Atlanta.
In the grand scheme of things, after all the dominoes fell last season to get Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game, the Nov. 3 matchup was rendered almost meaningless.
We didn't know that at the time, though.
It won't have the cachet of a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup, but if LSU and Alabama can hold up their ends of the bargain between now and Nov. 3, the 2012 regular-season meeting between the two will still have as much meaning as it did last season.
After what we saw this weekend, though, LSU holding up its end of the bargain may be easier said than done.
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