College Football Rankings: 5 Most Important LSU Games to Oregon Football

Bryan KalbroskyCorrespondent IOctober 5, 2011

College Football Rankings: 5 Most Important LSU Games to Oregon Football

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    When the Oregon football team lost to the now top-ranked LSU Tigers in their college football season opener, their season became attached to the SEC team.

    Even if the Ducks continue to play at the top of their game for the remainder of the 2011 College Football Season, their BCS success has become dependent upon that of the SEC powerhouse that defeated them earlier in the season.

    With the complexities of the BCS System in place in college football, schedule strength is a bigger component of the game than ever before. This gives football fans from around the nation a deeper reason to watch national football games rather than the regional ones from within their division, as those in the Pacific Northwest will now be dedicated to Southern football games until LSU loses.

    As a Ducks fan, it is important to keep this in mind as LSU begins their notably tougher part of their schedule. The Tigers have welcomed back quarterback Jordan Jefferson and now look to capitalize on fuller roster as they continue their journey to an appearance in the National Championship.

    The Oregon football program, however, still feels as if they can make one more serious run at the title.

    For a school that prescribes to a philosophy known as “Win The Day," they cognitively recognize that this is exactly all that they must do from this point forward. 

    Still, it is important to look at the schedule of LSU before setting their eyes on a BCS bid. Countless scenarios are factored into what constitutes a BCS Championship matchup.

5. Florida (No. 17) at LSU (No. 1), Oct. 8, 3:30 PM EST

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    LSU has played three ranked teams so far this season (Oregon, Mississippi State, West Virginia), but none show the speed on offense that Florida has.

    The biggest asset that LSU offers to a football game is their incredibly strong defense. Thus far, they have allowed only 12.8 PPG (ninth best in the nation) and have held three of their five opponents to single digits.

    Florida, however, will hope to utilize the speed of senior running back Chris Rainey. Rainey, who averages 5.6 YPC, has also recorded two touchdowns a piece, both on the ground for rushing scores and in the air for receiving scores.

    Sophomore receiver Andre Debose is another constant weapon, as his 22.0 yards per reception makes him a threat from anywhere on the field. His long of the season has been a 65 yarder, and with senior quarterback John Brantley running the offense (152.6 season passers rating), expect him to try to finally shut down the LSU defense.

    In their Week 5 match, Florida was outmatched by Alabama and was held to only 10 points. That game began their toughest stretch of the schedule (Alabma, LSU, Auburn in three consecutive weeks), and they look for this week to be a redemption week for the Gators.

    When the Ducks played LSU, they hoped to use their speed to overpower the LSU defense.

    Why They Could Win: The Ducks were not used to the SEC style of play and were caught with penalties, fumbled, dropped passes and dumb plays. Florida, with National Championship appearances under their belt, is more experienced and could use their football wisdom to defeat Florida.

    Would This Help Oregon? Ideally, the Ducks could ride the BCS roller coaster by favoring their only loss to the No. 1 rated team. If the No. 17 team beats them but Oregon couldn’t, Oregon would likely fall lower on the AP Poll.

4. LSU (No. 1) at Tennessee, Oct. 15, 3:30 PM EST

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    While this looks like a dominant SEC team picking on a lesser talented team in this matchup, there are arguments against that type of assessment.

    Tennessee may have lost to Florida in an early season 33-23 defeat, but that has been their only loss of the season thus far. Their strength of schedule is notably weaker than LSU (Montana, Cincinnati and Buffalo hardly carry the same reputation as other SEC teams do), but it becomes increasingly difficult to factor out a team that is averaging 336.5 passing yards a game.

    Under sophomore Tyler Bray, the Tennessee Volunteers have had much success this season. His passer rating (176.1 on the season) has been obscene, and he reached a rating of 209.8 with four touchdowns and no interceptions in his most recent game.

    This season, Bray has 14 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

    Bray faces a very difficult defense in the Tigers on Oct. 15, but that game also marks the beginning of a very tough part of the schedule for the team as they play No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Alabama and No. 18 South Carolina in three consecutive weeks without even receiving a courtesy bye.

    The LSU game is a home game for the Vols, and if they hope to win at least one of those three games, this could be the sneaking upset alert for the team.

    Why They Could Win: Tyler Bray at home in the most meaningful game of the season would be an exciting flash of brilliance for the home crowd to witness, and I wouldn’t count them out of this game until LSU secures a lead at the end of regulation.

    Would This Help Oregon? As with Florida, if an unranked team was able to un-seed the top ranked team but Oregon was not able to look like a solid team, this would not help Oregon very much. If they wished to make the National Championship without a rematch of LSU, this loss would be among the biggest that would lower LSU on the football hierarchy.

3. Auburn (No. 15) at LSU (No. 1), Oct. 22, TBD

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    This game is one that will makes Ducks fans very uncomfortable, as words like “too soon” and “this hurts too much, I have to go to Voodoo Doughnuts and drown my sorrows in Maple Bacon” will be uttered from fans like myself if I’m forced to watch this game.

    This will be, however, is a ridiculously entertaining game from the typical football fan.

    As Oregon fans, let’s put our bias aside for a second. Those who traveled to Arizona for the National Championship game and those who traveled to Dallas for the season opener know (or at the very least, have their perceptions) as to what each of these two fanbases are like.

    When discussing football, and not culture, that judgment is entirely irrelevant.

    These SEC powerhouses were both able to shut down Oregon for a reason. They both have incredible run-stopping defenses, and they both were able to take Oregon out of their zone.

    When they face each other, expect a similar fate. LSU is currently 100th in passing yards (177 YPG) and 48th in rushing yards (172.6 YPG). Yet with their stellar defense, they find ways to score anyway, as they have managed to put up 38.0 PPG.

    With the absence of Cam Newton, Auburn running back Michael Dyer has been beyond impressive this season. His 567 yards and seven touchdowns has helped Auburn put up the fifth most rushing yards (248.8 YPG) per game in the NCAA. While Auburn gives up a lot of points (24.1 PPG), they score much more often (41.2) and have the seventh highest scoring offense in college football.

    This is bound to be an entertaining game, and it will come down to how well they capitalize on the opportunity.

    Why They Could Win: Auburn outscores LSU by roughly 12 points a game on a weekly basis, and if the LSU defense is unable to capitalize on defensive scores, they may not be able to stop the defending champions.

    Would This Help Oregon? If Auburn hadn’t lost to Clemson, this would have been a much more interesting game of SEC titans. An LSU loss here would still have LSU and Auburn ranked above Oregon, which ultimately, would not help Oregon in the AP poll. Pick your poison.

2. LSU (No. 1) at Alabama (No. 2), Nov. 5, TBD

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    One of my buddies at the U of O is from Alabama, and he has articulated how much football means to that state. Nicknamed ‘Bama or "Roll Tide," he shares his LSU hatred with us whenever we play NCAA ’12.

    Outside of the Oregon season opener, this is far and away the biggest test of the season for LSU.

    If LSU is able to defeat the number-two ranked team in the nation, the case could be made for a one-loss Oregon team to be a legitimate top five squad in the AP Poll. If Alabama was not even able to defeat the Tigers, the Oregon loss becomes a much smaller deal.

    This becomes a very complicated BCS formula, and it would be difficult to predict which teams would still be undefeated at the time of the game in November. Regardless, it’s pretty certain that both teams will be especially highly ranked when these two teams face.

    LSU wins games by holding the opposing offense to very few points, but that’s exactly what Alabama does as well. They allow only 13.5 PPG, good for the third lowest total in the nation. This is even better than the 18.2 PPG of LSU.

    The Alabama offense, however, is what separates them from LSU. They score more points than LSU does (35.7 PPG, 18th in nation) and have a legitimate threat at QB in A.J. McCarron and RB in Trent Richardson.

    Richardson already has 622 YPG, 10 touchdowns and one of the most explosive rushing attacks in the nation.

    On top of that, this game is in Tuscaloosa, where football is the world, and it is one of the most difficult places to play in the country.

    Why They Could Win: Alabama, led by Richardson and the most elite defense in the SEC, takes on LSU at home and hopes to prove that they deserve to be ranked ahead of their divisional rival.

    Would This Help Oregon: Depending on who else is undefeated at this point in the season, this could either help or hurt Oregon. If LSU loses before this point but Oregon does not, then this would help Oregon. If LSU is still undefeated, Ducks fans should likely be rooting for LSU. Roll Tide.

1. Arkansas (No. 10) at LSU (No. 1), Nov. 25, 2:30 PM EST

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    On Sept. 24, Arkansas was unable to defeat a lower-ranked Alabama team, and they were held to only 14 points. They also surrendered 38 points.

    Arkansas, however, has shown heart and dedication early this season. Their comeback heroics against Texas A&M were a true display of how impressive they are as a football team, and it will take that kind of effort to beat LSU on the road when the two teams face on Nov. 25.

    Between this week and the end of the season, Arkansas faces only two ranked teams (Auburn, South Carolina), but they still hope to prove that they are as legitimate team as any when they continue their schedule.

    Arkansas relies on a heavy passing attack to score the majority of their points and have the fourth most efficient QB in the nation. Junior quarterback Tyler Wilson has a season QB Rating of 154.3 and has 10 touchdowns to only three interceptions.

    Wilson will look to try to expose the LSU secondary, and if he is unable to capitalize, then expect LSU to explode for a decisive victory.

    If he were, however, I would imagine this to be a thrilling end of the season battle. Arkansas and Oregon are currently neck and neck in the AP Poll, and depending on how the remainder of the season goes, I would not be entirely surprised to learn that it stayed that way.

    Why They Could Win: Arkansas has a passing attack strong enough to defeat any team at any given game, and if Arkansas is fighting for a serious BCS bid, then expect them to play at the top of their game.

    Would This Help Oregon? Ducks fans would probably find themselves rooting for LSU in this game if Arkansas is closer to them in the polls, but if the Razorbacks lose to Auburn or South Carolina along the way, then this could be a legitimate chance for Oregon to leap frog over LSU if the moment is right.