This season, expectations are high for the No. 1 ranked LSU Football team. With a defense that's second to none, two exceptional quarterbacks and a conservative but effective running scheme, the Tigers are primed to make their season-long goal a reality and earn their right to play in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans.
But to get there, the Tigers have to avoid some pitfalls.
Being No. 1 the day the BCS rankings come out is a blessing, but the target on your back resembles a curse. The Tigers now have to play every game as the top dog, ready for action at moment's notice.
Three big games remain: home games against Auburn and Arkansas, and the universally-acknowledged "Game of the Year" on Nov. 5 at Alabama. The Crimson Tide will be the biggest test for the Tigers, but there are many different ways this season can shake out.
It is early yet.
Here are some early bowl scenarios for the Tigers:
A muddy mess brought LSU a bowl loss against Penn State in the 2010 Capital One Bowl.
Just like two years ago, when the Tigers lost to top-ranked Florida and highly-ranked Alabama, the Tigers were left out of the SEC title game, and were fortunate enough to grab at least a New Year's Day Bowl Game.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature conspired against the Tigers.
The Tigers managed a woeful offensive performance en route to a 19-17 loss to Penn State in the 2010 Capital One Bowl Game. This ended a disappointing season that saw the Tigers' once-hopeful title hopes dashed at the hands of some Rolling Gator Tides.
Worst case scenario for this Tiger team is an appearance in any bowl game before January 1st.
Under the jumbo screen to end all jumbo screens, LSU celebrates with the Cotton Bowl trophy.
In the hallowed ground of Jerry Jones-land, the Tigers came into Cowboys Stadium last year and throttled soon-to-be SEC rival Texas A&M in the 2011 Cotton Bowl. Were LSU to lose their struggle against Alabama, hopes for an SEC title game appearance will be all but dashed.
If the Tigers manage to lose to both Auburn and Arkansas, two fierce opponents who routinely give the Tigers trouble, they could find themselves on the outside of the BCS picture and in a scrum against some lowly Big 12 school. Furthermore, if LSU were to beat Alabama, earn their ticket to the SEC Championship Game, but then lose to some lowly SEC East school, they could find themselves back in Texas around the beginning of January.
For all parties involved, I would hope LSU fans would prefer a win over Alabama than a loss over anyone else in the SEC title game.
Here's to Texas A&M's welcome out of obscurity and away from the pretenders, against which the Tigers would have no problems.
Former QB JaMarcus Russell scrambles against Notre Dame in the 2007 Sugar Bowl.
Five years ago, LSU suffered a series of losses that kept them out of the title game. But finishing fourth in the country was no disappointment. Instead of the title game, LSU had a mini-homecoming of sorts in the Louisiana Superdome, demolishing Notre Dame 41-14 in the 2007 Sugar Bowl.
This could be the replay if LSU loses to Alabama on Nov. 5, and Alabama goes on to win the SEC Championship Game. This would leave LSU, presumably without any other losses, to leapfrog the losing SEC title game participant, and represent the Southeastern Conference in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
This scenario would be the most welcome of non-championship scenarios, but there's only one the Tigers feel they need to accomplish...
Les Miles holding the BCS Coaches Trophy after winning the 2008 BCS National Championship Game.
Best-case scenario: They win everything. Give them the title, give them the trophies. Give them the money. Give them their glory.