The case for — and against — an Alabama-LSU rematch

by karlhenk

Niles, Ohio — After No. 2 Alabama’s thumping of Auburn this weekend, the clear-cut choice to play undefeated LSU in the BCS title game is — Oklahoma State?

Mike Gundy and one-loss Oklahoma State need help from voters to vault to the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings.

But in a twist that’s as hypocritical as it is illogical, it appears Alabama will get an second crack at LSU

There are a few reasons why the Crimson Tide and Tigers will meet on Jan. 9 in New Orleans, and a few better reasons why Alabama shouldn’t get the chance.

Alabama won’t play for the title because it didn’t win its conference. Heck, it didn’t even win its division. I know, I know, the division (and eventual conference winner) will be LSU. That’s like saying Scottie Pippin was the second-best player on the Chicago Bulls, which is accurate, but only because he played along side Michael Jordan.

Conference winners play for BCS titles; conference runner-ups do not. Don’t believe me? Since 1998, when the BCS first started, all but two competitors in the championship game have won their conference. (The exceptions were in 2001, when No. 14 Colorado stunned No. 2 Nebraska during the last week of the regular season. Nebraska then lost to Miami in the title game; and in 2003, when No. 12 Kansas State shocked No. 1 Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game. Oklahoma then lost to LSU in the title game.)

Nick Saban and Alabama will likely get a second crack at undefeated LSU.

Alabama will play for the title because ESPN has rights to televise the game. ESPN, better known as the worldwide leader in sports, is also the worldwide leader in manipulation. This is an organization that still allows Craig James on the air following the Mike Leach fiasco in 2009.

LSU wasn’t the only winner in the early Novemeber matchup with LSU. CBS also reigned victorious in the Game of the Century, drawing 20 million viewers. It was the most-watched regular season game on CBS in 22 years.

If the same number of viewers watch an Alabama-LSU rematch, it would be the second-highest rated BCS game ever, behind Texas-USC in 2006, which drew 21.7 million viewers.

ESPN already has Gene Wojciechowski workforce lobbying for the rematch.

Alabama won’t play for the title because there is already a precedent. As any Michigan fan remembers, the Wolverines were denied a second chance to play undefeated Ohio State for the 2006 national title.

Michigan’s only loss? To undefeated Ohio State during the final week of the regular season.

One-loss Florida (lost to No. 11 Auburn earlier that season) jumped Michigan and skunked OSU in the title game.

But to be fair, Wojciechowski in 2006 also thought it was unfair that the Gators got the nod ahead of the Wolverines.

Think of it this way: if the debate is between undefeated LSU, one-loss Alabama and, say, one-loss Oklahoma State, what facts do we already know? Is Alabama better than LSU? No, because it lost LSU earlier this year. Is Oklahoma State better than LSU? We don’t know, because the two teams haven’t played.

Alabama will play for the title because it deserves a second chance. Nick Saban’s squad is 4-1 against ranked opponents this season. On eight occasions, the Crimson Tide have limited opponents to 10 points or fewer.

It limited LSU to three field goals in more than a game’s worth of action during its 9-6 overtime loss earlier this month.

Alabama won’t play for the title because Oklahoma State has earned the right to play LSU.

This, of course, is dependent on an OSU victory against Oklahoma Dec. 3, which would push the Cowboys record against ranked opponents to 3-0.

The computer rankings, as of the Week 13 BCS standings, had Oklahoma State ranked as the second-best team in the nation. The biggest detriment to OSU’s title hopes? The voters.

Alabama will play for the title because Nick Saban said so.

That’s a good enough reason for most.

Follow Karl Henkel on Twitter, friend him on Facebook.

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