Alabama, LSU Fight for Dominance in the SEC West

© Chris Graythen, Getty Images Chris Graythen, Getty Images
© Chris Graythen, Getty Images Chris Graythen, Getty Images

Earlier this week, Les Miles opened a news conference as only he can, by imploring “all model citizens” to exercise their civic duty.

“This is not Columbus Day,” Miles noted. “This is not just for the Italians. This is certainly not St. Paddy’s. It’s not just for the Irish. It is for all those who have the ability to vote in our country, so get out and do that, please.”

It was vintage stuff from the LSU coach, a reminder of what makes moments with Miles an unpredictable joy. But no one needs to implore college football fans to exercise their civic privilege this week. When LSU hosts Alabama, it’s easy to predict another slugfest showdown with far-reaching national implications.

There was a time — say, two or three weeks ago — when the matchup seemed to have lost some luster. The teams haven’t combined for three losses when they played since 2007 (which, for a game annually played in November, is an amazing stat). But Alabama (7-1) has recovered from a loss at Ole Miss; at No. 5 in the College Football Playoff Top 25, the Crimson Tide is in position to reach the playoff. And after stumbling early with a young roster in what’s supposed to be a rebuilding year, No. 16 LSU (7-2) has rebounded, too.

LSU remains a very long shot to get back into the playoff race, but a victory two weeks ago against then-unbeaten Ole Miss served notice the young but talented Tigers have grown quickly, and will at least be a factor in the SEC West. With some help, they could still win it — or if nothing else, could create serious chaos in the division that’s almost universally regarded as the nation’s best.

There’s potential for two of its teams to reach the playoff. But there’s also a real possibility that all five of its contenders could wind up with at least two losses, creating a frenzied run through the league’s tiebreaking protocol. What that would mean for the playoff is unknown; a 10-2 or 11-2 SEC West team would still be attractive. But depending on the results in other conferences, it could also mean the SEC West gets left out.

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Source: USA Today | George Schroeder

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