With BCS aspirations seemingly diminished, the 2014 Cotton Bowl could be as good as it gets for the LSU Tigers' postseason. But who could greet the Tigers there?
With two losses, LSU is out of the national championship picture. The fact that Alabama, Florida State, Oregon and Ohio State are still undefeated up to this point establishes a drastically unrealistic national championship berth for LSU.
Add in the fact that Alabama and Texas A&M still remain on LSU's schedule and the Tigers might enter this postseason with at least three losses, likely dismissing LSU from any BCS bowl opportunities.
Let's say Alabama runs the table, and LSU finishes the regular season with back-to-back wins over Texas A&M and Arkansas.
In this hypothetical scenario, Auburn finishes the season with two losses and the SEC East's best team has at least three losses as well. Alabama would then go to the BCS title game, Auburn to the Sugar Bowl and LSU would inherit the 2014 Cotton Bowl.
|Possible Bowls for the LSU Tigers|
|Realistic Bowl Projections||Possible Opponents|
|2014 AT&T Cotton Bowl||Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma|
|2014 Outback Bowl||Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin|
|2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl||Florida State, Clemson, Miami|
Should LSU play in the 2014 AT&T Cotton Bowl, the Tigers' opponent will likely be a mystery until the last week in November.
There's a tight race in the Big 12 right now between Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. Baylor is in the driver's seat with no losses, so a BCS bowl game seems inevitable for the Bears.
The second-best Big 12 team—which will likely be Oklahoma State, judging strictly off of Saturday's action—will meet the Tigers in Cowboy Stadium for a Jan. 1 showdown.
The Cowboys get the nod over Texas, which will play Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Baylor consecutively to close out the season, and quite frankly, Oklahoma State, with its newfound offensive balance, looks better than Oklahoma at this point.
This would make for a fun matchup because of Oklahoma State's demonstrated efficient offense (scoring 40.5 points per game) and somewhat surprising formidable defense (allowing only 21.4 points per game).
However, you have to think this is a matchup Oklahoma State fans would want more than LSU fans, as they would finally get to see their team play an LSU squad the 2011 Cowboys were not permitted to.
But let's say an SEC East team beats the Tigers out for the Cotton Bowl bid...
Phew. Now we get a little bit easier scenario.
Let's go ahead and put Ohio State in the 2014 Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes seem destined to play there with an impressive 21-game winning streak. That leaves Michigan State and Wisconsin as the next two top teams in the Big Ten.
It's looking more and more possible that Michigan State will finish higher than Wisconsin. The reason for that is because Michigan State, which has one loss compared to Wisconsin's two, won't likely gain another loss in the Big Ten.
The Spartans have Nebraska, Northwestern and Minnesota remaining, while Wisconsin has Indiana, Minnesota and Penn State.
Michigan State might have eliminated Michigan in the race for second and third place Saturday with a 29-6 victory against the Wolverines. Michigan now holds two losses and has an eventual meeting with Ohio State.
Therefore, a showdown with the third-best Big Ten team, Wisconsin, would likely occur for LSU in the 2014 Outback Bowl. If a scenario plays out where LSU meets the Badgers, the matchup would favor the Tigers.
Wisconsin presents a more conventional offense, which LSU has competed against exceedingly well in 2013. The Tigers are allowing just 245.5 yards per game against teams that run more conventional offenses, while the Tigers have given up 436.6 yards per game against teams boasting a spread offense.
This game could serve as a nice defensive struggle if the Badgers, who are allowing just 15 points per game, can slow down Zach Mettenberger, Jeremy Hill, Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. Good luck with that.
This is the matchup Tiger fans should be craving...the LSU ones that is.
The 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl was a pain felt throughout the offseason for most fans. LSU had a commanding lead entering the fourth quarter, and Clemson was allowing over 10 yards per carry to Jeremy Hill.
To LSU fans' annoyance—Hill didn't touch the ball in the fourth quarter, and a 12-point comeback was completed by a Chandler Catanzaro game-winning field goal.
With Florida State dominating the ACC, the Seminoles are most likely BCS bound with four unranked opponents left to play in the 2013 season.
That leaves the second spot and Chick-fil-A Bowl up for grabs. With the way Clemson has rebounded after Florida State's loss (defeating Virginia 59-10 last Saturday), it will likely be another Tigers vs. Tigers matchup, should LSU land there.
This, of course, is assuming Clemson gets a big win over South Carolina at the end of the season, propelling them over Miami.
What LSU lacked in the passing game last season, it gained in the form of a seasoned Zach Mettenberger and prolific play-caller in Cam Cameron. And with Tajh Boyd facing a weaker LSU pass defense, he should do more than repeat last year's 346-yard performance against LSU.
Shootout in Atlanta, anyone?