BCS Rankings 2011: LSU vs. Alabama, Who's the Real No. 1?

Eric Freeman, Jr.Contributor IIIOctober 16, 2011

LSU head coach Les Miles.
LSU head coach Les Miles.Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

There's something to be said about Louisiana football on a Saturday night. Unfortunately for the LSU Tigers, there won't be any this season.

However, LSU can rest easy knowing it's the No. 1 team in the country, with a stout defense, two exceptional quarterbacks and a defensive secondary unlike any in recent Tiger memory. Head coach Les Miles' roster is brimming with stars ranging from a freak—freshman defensive tackle Anthony Johnson—to a Honey Badger who takes what he wants, sophomore cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.

Playing in an exceptional conference, beating ranked foes convincingly and allowing no legitimate challenge go by should be enough for the Tigers to attain the No. 1 ranking, but not without controversy.

Critics of LSU say two things: that the Tigers rank 100th in passing yards, and that Alabama has been just as dominant.

The Crimson Tide and Pride of Tuscaloosa claim, somewhat rightly, that no one has played better this season. With the No. 1 defense in the country—allowing seven points a game is a good start—and a likely Heisman trophy finalist in RB Trent Richardson, Nick Saban's crew has taken every challenge, wrapped it in plastic wrap, then taken a smaller skillet and beaten carpaccio out of it.

Long story short, the Tide are for real, just like every year. So the question remains: whose claim to No. 1 is legitimate?

In a three-letter word: LSU.

The only difference between the Tigers and Tide at this point is schedule. The Tigers had to wait five weeks before facing an SEC opponent at home, after going to a neutral site and beating Oregon, then beating West Virginia and Mississippi State in their houses. Include a 30-point beating of Florida, and that's four wins against ranked teams.

Alabama only has three such wins, against Penn State, Arkansas and Florida.

That explains the three/one-thousandths of a point difference between the Tigers and the Crimson Tide in the BCS rankings. But the story of who's better between LSU and Alabama?

This is why we watch. And the whole country will be watching on November 5th.