An SEC championship is as good as it can get for the LSU Tigers in 2013, but a three- or four-loss season could seriously alter the next three or four years for LSU.
Starting off on a positive note, LSU, at 7-2, is in position to finish out the year with another 10-win season.
With two of the Tigers' three remaining games on the schedule coming against elite competition, the team's hopes of still claiming another SEC title remain intact. Notice how the emphasis is on SEC title and not national championship.
The Tigers are presumably out of the national championship race with two losses. Florida State's last real challenge of the season comes next week against a Miami team that barely defeated Wake Forest.
Meanwhile, Oregon continues to roll, and even if the Ducks drop one against Stanford or Oregon State, a one-loss Oregon team most likely trumps a two-loss LSU team in the polls.
Oh, and there's that undefeated Ohio State team. After all these years, Urban Meyer is still finding a way to make life difficult for LSU fans.
But before LSU has any argument at all, the Tigers have to run the table, and yes, that means defeating a dynasty. The Alabama Crimson Tide are standing in the way of LSU; the Tigers will have to beat Alabama and inherit some help along the way toward winning the West.
As it stands right now, Alabama has the lead in the division with no losses and Auburn is second with one loss. Here's what has to happen for LSU to win the SEC West.
|Remaining Opponents for Competing SEC West Foes|
|Alabama (5-0):||LSU||Mississippi State||Chattanooga||Auburn|
|Texas A&M (3-2):||UTEP||Mississippi State||LSU||Missouri|
|Ole Miss (2-3):||Arkansas||Troy||Missouri||Mississippi State|
First, take care of business. LSU needs to come out like it did in the second half against Furman, when it utilized that bullying ground-and-pound style it has employed throughout the new millennium. If the Tigers do so, they have a shot.
With 394 yards of offense against the Paladins and only 49 yards given up in the second half, LSU looked like a dominant SEC force. A force that could maybe compete with Alabama and quite possibly slow down Johnny Football.
With wins against Alabama, Texas A&M and Arkansas, LSU could be in position to play for another SEC title. That is, however, only if Auburn upsets Alabama at the end of the season and loses to Georgia along the way. That would create a three-way tie in the SEC West, and the tiebreaker would go to LSU, who would have defeated both Auburn and Alabama.
That would take as much luck as skill for the Tigers to pull off, but hey, we've seen crazier things happen in college football. Insane events such as Auburn beating Texas A&M, Ole Miss defeating LSU, Vanderbilt edging Georgia and Tennessee upsetting South Carolina have all happened already. For the record, that was just one weekend of action.
Get my drift?
With bizarre and borderline inconceivable results swinging the Tigers' way, an SEC championship and a Sugar Bowl bid would certainly appease LSU fans, as it would salvage the 2013 season.
However, things could get sour very quickly if the stars do not align as such.
Let's say LSU loses against Alabama and Texas A&M. The Tigers should rebound with a victory over Arkansas to finish the season, but that's an 8-4 regular-season record, folks.
Think LSU fans will take kindly to that? With four weeks of football yet to be played, the bowl scenarios remain fuzzy, but I can't see LSU getting a better bowl than Alabama, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas A&M or Auburn with four losses.
To make matters worse, most of LSU's signature targets in the 2014 recruiting class remain undecided.
A four-loss season won't help the Tigers' attempt at recruiting these prospects. Seeing that Laurence "Hootie" Jones, a 5-star safety from Neville High School, pushed back his announcement date to Nov. 25 (after the Texas A&M game), two straight losses involving Alabama and Texas A&M could see the Tigers lose another big commitment to Alabama.
Leonard Fournette, the Tigers' most coveted target and arguably the best high school running back Louisiana has ever produced, is deciding between the Tigers and the Tide as well.
So it's simple really. In a three-game span, LSU has the possibility to reclaim the throne in the SEC (with more insanity in the conference lending a helpful hand). But the Tigers also run the gamble of falling behind Alabama even more.
Should Alabama steal away Louisiana talents like Fournette and Jones like the Crimson Tide already snatched away Cameron Robinson, the No. 1 recruit in the nation, LSU's bright future will start to dim.
These next three games are crucial for the Tigers' future. It may be a very long time before LSU wins the SEC West again, should the Tigers' worst-case scenario play out.