BATON ROUGE, La. -- If things had lined up for LSU on Saturday, the Tigers could have finished the day as the SEC West champion, with a berth in the SEC title game and possibly even a shot at the BCS championship game, or at least a BCS bowl.
It was a longshot, but possible.
By the end of the day, not only had it not worked out, but nothing 10-2 LSU needed in a laundry list of upsets transpired. Alabama (11-1) took care of arch-rival Auburn to claim the West and punch its ticket to Atlanta to face Georgia (11-1) for the right to advance to Miami for the BCS title game. Florida (11-1) beat Florida State to all but clinch the second SEC BCS bowl bid (the Sugar Bowl). Texas A&M (10-2) beat Missouri, and South Carolina (10-2) beat Clemson, leaving them with the same record as the Tigers.
When it was over, LSU was left, most likely, out of the BCS. As one of six teams that finished with 10-2 or better in the SEC, the Tigers' bowl picture is muddled.
LSU could play in an attractive Cotton Bowl matchup (as the SEC No. 3) or slip to a disappointing Chick-fil-A Bowl berth (as the SEC No. 6). If the latter happens, it would be notable that the Tigers led Alabama with two minutes left; had LSU hung on, it would be playing for the SEC championship and the BCS title game. Instead, it might be the SEC No. 6 in the bowl pecking order.
Here are the most likely bowls for the Tigers when they are announced after next weekend:
Matchup: SEC No. 3/4 vs. Big 12 No. 2
Why LSU might fit: If Oklahoma State beats Baylor, there's a good chance the Cowboys would get the Cotton Bowl berth over Texas, which has a tougher game against Kansas State. That could make an attractive OSU-LSU matchup in the game that many, especially in Big 12 country, think should have happened last year when Alabama was given the nod over the Cowboys. If Texas gets the Cotton Bowl nod, state politics might work against arch-rivals Texas and A&M meeting in a bowl so soon after the end of their rivalry.
Why LSU might not fit: Texas A&M against a former Big 12 rival would be a great story. If Texas-Texas A&M could happen, it would make for great TV. LSU opens next season at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas against TCU, so there could be concern over how enthusiastic LSU is to travel for this one.
Matchup: Big 10 No. 2 vs. SEC No. 2
Why LSU might fit: Frankly, it seems like a longshot at this point, but if the Capital One takes Michigan out of the Big Ten, it might like the idea of matching Les Miles, a former Michigan player, against his old team.
Why LSU might not fit: This seems to be a likely destination for the SEC championship game loser. If Alabama loses to Georgia, you could probably pencil the Tide in.
Matchup: SEC No. 3/4 vs. Big 10 No. 3
Why LSU might fit: The Michigan angle would be intriguing if this is where the Wolverines fall. If Georgia is in the Capital One Bowl, LSU might be seen as more attractive than South Carolina.
Why LSU might not fit: Let's face it, even if LSU is a sexier brand than South Carolina, any bowl game that brings Steve Spurrier back to Florida likely would do well.
Matchup: SEC No. 6 vs. ACC No. 2
Why LSU might fit: One can easily see the dominoes fall against LSU in other bowls: The Capital One takes the SEC title game loser, the Cotton takes Texas A&M and the Outback takes Spurrier and South Carolina. Then, this becomes a no-brainer.
Why LSU might not fit: Only because a bowl higher up the pecking order does not take the Tigers. If LSU slips to the Chick-fil-A, bowl officials in Atlanta would be ecstatic.