Starting 11: If LSU Splits Arkansas, Georgia, it’s in Title Game

With Oregon’s whipping of Stanford and Boise State’s shanked field goal against TCU, LSU moved into a nearly guaranteed title game appearance even if it loses to either Arkansas or Georgia. How so? Because if LSU lost one game, there would only be one undefeated team. (That’s assuming Oklahoma State wins out. Houston isn’t making the big game). Of the one-loss teams LSU beat Oregon and Alabama head-to-head so neither of those teams are going in front of LSU. Oklahoma’s loss to Texas Tech was too bad. Meanwhile, if Arkansas beats LSU it still has an Alabama whipping on the books, so can you really make an argument that Arkansas would deserve to be in above Alabama and LSU? Especially when, and this is key, LSU is going to represent the SEC West in Atlanta even if it loses to Arkansas. 

I’ll discuss the three-way SEC West tie scenario below, but suffice it to say that even if Arkansas wins LSU and Alabama are both going to be ranked above Arkansas in the final BCS standings.

Lose to Arkansas and LSU would get a chance to redeem itself in the SEC title game against a top-ten ranked Georgia team. Lose to Georgia and LSU would still have three top ten BCS wins. Either way the Tigers will be in the Sugar Bowl unless they lose to Arkansas and Georgia. And I don’t see that happening.  

I haven’t seen anyone else point out that LSU has a national title game mulligan right now, but they do.   

On to the Starting 11:

1. So what’s the most likely title game: LSU vs. Oklahoma State.

The talking heads are incentivized to make this more complicated than it actually is. Otherwise, why are they needed? In reality there are only a few possible title game outcomes.

After LSU vs. Oklahoma State, here are your other potential games.

a. LSU-Alabama

This happens if Oklahoma State loses to Oklahoma and Alabama beats Auburn.

b. LSU-Oregon

This happens if Oklahoma State loses to Oklahoma, Alabama loses to Auburn and Oregon squeaks in over Oklahoma.

c. LSU-Oklahoma

The same scenario as above only Oklahoma slides in above Oregon.

Anything below this has such a miniscule chance of happening it isn’t even worth worrying about.

In fact, there is a 95% chance — potentially even greater than that — that this title game will be LSU-Oklahoma State or LSU-Alabama.

So don’t buy in to the chaos argument. Yes, I was wrong about there being a bunch of undefeated teams this season. It looks like there will only be three.

But no matter what happens, LSU is virtually certain to be playing for the title.

2. Here is a Vandy fan reacting to the Florida loss.

 Let’s be clear, this kid has got a long life in front of him.

3. “Clay, why do you hate Arkansas! Woo pig sooie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

No one hates Arkansas, you guys aren’t historically relevant enough to be hated.

That would be like hating Arizona State football. Or Auburn basketball.

I watched Nick Saban disembowel Bobby Petrino’s offense for the fourth consecutive season. You got absolutely destroyed by Alabama. Since that time your national title dreams have been squashed. Please stop with all this talk.

You are going to lose to LSU by double digits and Tyler Wilson will not finish the game. But just to humor you, I’m telling you why the best you can hope for is a non-BCS bowl game.

4. If Arkansas beats LSU then Arkansas will still be ranked behind Alabama, who crushed the Razorbacks, and LSU.

Here’s why: because Arkansas is presently sixth in the BCS standings. 

No pollsters will jump you above Alabama, the team that destroyed you, and LSU won’t fall far enough for you to jump them. (It’s possible that even with a loss to Arkansas LSU wouldn’t fall below two since it would still have head-to-head wins over the number three and four teams in America.) Meanwhile, Arkansas can’t advance above Alabama. So Alabama and LSU will be the top two teams in the BCS standings. In a three-way SEC tie, the top two teams in the BCS head-to-head governs. 

That means LSU is going to the title game and Alabama would be the SEC’s second BCS selection. 

Again, barring a complete collapse and two losses in the final three games of the season, LSU will be in the SEC title game, and the national title game.

Arkansas won’t even make the BCS even if finishes the season 11-1. I’m not saying it’s necessarily fair, but it is reality.   

5. Derek Dooley continues to rack up Vol records. 

Unfortunately they are all of the “worst of” variety. 

Saturday Dooley narrowly avoided the worst Vol SEC loss of all-time. But he still managed to put together the first 0-6 start in SEC history for the Vols. He’s also 0-6 against the spread, meaning even Las Vegas thinks Dooley can’t coach a lick. As if that wasn’t enough, his mangling of the 2011 season has led Vegas to install Vanderbilt as a one-point favorite in Knoxville. The Vol apocalypse is truly ‘nigh.

Remember when I told y’all that Derek Dooley would be squarely on hot seat by the end of the Arkansas game. And all the Dool-Aid drinkers went to war with me?

Yeah, I was right. 

And I’m still right. 

Dooley ain’t the guy for the Tennessee Vols. Not if we aspire to something more than an occasional Peach Bowl.   

6. How in the world can Kentucky justify keeping Joker Phillips?

I know two years isn’t a very long timeframe, but can anyone argue that UK is going in the right direction? This team is simply awful. How awful? When Ole Miss lost by 17 to Kentucky there was no more defending Houston Nutt. How does allowing Kentucky to hit rock bottom next season help the program? If you know you’re going to suck, why not cut a year out in advance?

Look at the SEC East right now, Will Muschamp, Derek Dooley, Joker Phillips, and James Fraklin are all first or second year coaches.

Of these four men only James Franklin has his fan base excited and he may not be at Vandy after the 2012 season.

Steve Spurrier is on his way out at South Carolina and Mark Richt is perpetually on the ropes. This is the weakest roster of coaches in SEC East history.

Hell, Missouri may win the SEC East next year. (Although Georgia should be the heavy favorite).

If Kentucky could get Mike Leach is there any doubt the Wildcats would have, at worst, the third most accomplished coach in the SEC East? (The second most accomplished coach who would be there long-term). That would be an absolute coup, going from the worst coach to the best in a single move.

I think it’s a move you have to make if you’re the Wildcats.

By the way, check out this UK shirt via reader submission:

“Went to UK-Vandy with 12 year old son, nine year old daughter and a friend of hers. Sat behind this guy. Classy…”

I got to Vandy’s stadium at halftime. Arriving there I was stuck in traffic because UK fans were leaving already. Per this guy’s shirt, I guess they were taking their bitch asses home.

7. The vast majority of you still aren’t on Twitter.

That’s simply astounding to me.

Every now and then one of you emails saying that Twitter is too complicated and you don’t know where to start.

My easy answer is: follow me and use who I follow as a jumping off point. I don’t follow a massive amount of people because if I did, I wouldn’t be able to digest the people I do follow. You can find me on Twitter here.

Athlon Sports has also done a good job of collating 100 Twitter handles that everyone should follow. You can find that here.

By the way, the power of Twitter, Facebook, and you guys has absolutely exploded our site traffic at OKTC. Fully 60% of our traffic comes from “shares.” That is, one of you is reading an article and passing along to your friends. 30% is direct through the main entry point to the site, and just 10% is Google search.

That means nearly 2 of every 3 of you are being sent here by friends or associates.

While we’re killing on site traffic for an independent site — we may well hit a million uniques in November and I’d put those sharing numbers up against just about any site in the country — you guys are the reason why OKTC is having such an impact.  

So thanks a ton to y’all.  

8. Boise State’s kicker may have cost Kellen Moore the Heisman. 

Think about it, who else is winning the Heisman this year?

I honestly have no idea.  

If Boise had gone undefeated there might have been a late surge for Moore — a virtual reward for all that he’s accomplished in four seasons. Instead, thanks to deja foot, Boise will be playing in another crap bowl and Moore’s college career will end in the shadows.

That’s a shame, Moore deserved more.

9. Vandy’s James Franklin is Derek Dooley’s worst nightmare.

Why?

Because Franklin hasn’t made excuses or bitched about the lack of depth, talent, and youth he inherited. James Franklin’s bamboo started growing the moment he arrived on campus. Vandy has just nine seniors, has had three coaches in three years, and was 4-20 in the previous two seasons.

All of that is pretty similar to UT, if not worse.

Yet in his first season with Vanderbilt Franklin has already won more games than the Commodores did the previous two seasons. What’s more the Dores are playing with an uncommon degree of fight. This team isn’t just hanging around and hoping for the other team to make mistakes, it’s getting better each week and competing at a high level with SEC opponents.

If Franklin can roll in to Knoxville and beat UT in his first season, can any UT fan really argue that in his second year it’s unreasonable for Dooley to be able to beat Vanderbilt? Will the Dool-Aid drinkers really argue that Dooley inherited a worse situation than Franklin?

If James Franklin and Vandy roll in to Knoxville and win the entire 2012 season becomes make or break for Dooley. Anything worse than 8-4 and he should be gone.

I’ll write more on this later this week, but for now it’s worth noting that against five common SEC opponents, Vanderbilt has clearly been the better team. The Commodores have lost to South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, and Florida by a combined score of 145-80 while the Vols have lost to the same teams by a combined score of 153-51.

Change two plays — the scoop and score on the blocked punt against Georgia and the fumble that Arkansas returned for a touchdown as the Dores were going in to take a 35-20 lead — and the Commodores are 7-0 at home this season and 7-3 overall.

Meaning Vanderbilt wasn’t that far away from an eight or nine win season.

Vanderbilt!

10. Oklahoma State wouldn’t score more than 20 points against either LSU or Alabama. 

Go ahead and write down this prediction. 

I’m so tired of hearing about their offense. It’s fun to watch, but it — just like Ohio State and Oklahoma and Texas and Oregon — will be stifled once it rolls in to the national title game. 

Selfishly I’m rooting for the LSU-Alabama rematch because I can’t imagine how crazy Bourbon Street will be, but the most likely outcome is a double-digit LSU win over Oklahoma State. Go ahead and put me down for LSU 24 Oklahoma State 14.    

11. Finally, a correction, from the Kirk Herbstreit profile.

I wrote that Herbstreit mistakenly identified Billy Hatcher’s number as 28. In fact, as Kirk pointed out from Stanford on Saturday, Hatcher did wear 28 for the Houston Astros. 

So the number freak is still a number freak.  

In the meantime, profiles like this are a testament to the growing influence of the site. We have a lot of readers, yes, but we also have a lot of important readers. That’s thanks to you guys sharing links, emailing tips, commenting, and taking ownership over the content here.

The site is only going to get better and better, but we’re not quite four months into the OKTC experiment and already it’s an unmitigated success. That’s thanks to you guys.

So this OKTC jersey pop is for y’all. (And our advertisers who bought in before we had any definite numbers to show them).

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