The SEC made college football history this week by landing four teams in the top 5 of the national rankings.

Those four teams — No. 1 Mississippi State, No. 3 Ole Miss, No. 4 Alabama and No. 5 Auburn — have taken a stranglehold on the SEC West, and all four will spend the final six weeks of the season jockeying for a spot in the SEC Championship Game and a berth in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

The division is now a four-team race, but there is one complicating factor: the LSU Tigers.

LSU is back in familiar territory having reentered the top 25 this week, but with losses to Mississippi State and Auburn, the Bayou Bengals’ hopes of winning the West and reaching the Playoff have been all but squashed. The Tigers may be the No. 24 team in the country, but they’ll be taking on a new role in the final weeks of the season, that of the underdog.

Many seem to think the West will be settled when the two Mississippi schools and two Alabama schools complete their regular season round-robin next month. However, LSU will have a say in the division champion as well, even if it cannot win the division itself. The next three weeks will be LSU’s chance to salvage some significance from this season, as the Tigers host the Rebels this weekend, then get a week off, then host Alabama on Nov. 8.

If the Rebels or Crimson Tide suffer a loss to a team outside the top four in the West, including LSU, it could effectively end their pursuit of a division title.

For instance, Ole Miss still has games remaining against Auburn and Mississippi State this season, and it’s unlikely it’ll sweep both of those games. The Rebels can afford to take on one loss to a top 5 team, but they can’t afford a second loss, especially not to a team outside the top 20 in the polls. The Tigers are a quality opponent, but they are also proof that two losses are too many to reach the playoff.

If Ole Miss loses in Death Valley on Saturday, it would have to win out to have a shot at a division title and playoff berth. Mississippi State and Auburn have already beaten LSU this season, and Ole Miss still has to face both of those teams after Saturday’s showdown with the Tigers. Simply put: the Rebels cannot afford to lose on Saturday.

Unfortunately for Ole Miss, LSU is as hot as any team in the country. The Tigers are coming off a 38-point home win over Kentucky, and they’ve won back to back SEC games to vault back into the rankings. They have just one home loss this season (a five-point loss to No. 1 MSU), and appear to have turned a corner after a slow start to the year. That slow start cost LSU a chance to contend in the West, but the Tigers have grown into one of the most dangerous teams in the nation entering Week 9.

If LSU wins Saturday, Ole Miss has no margin for error the rest of the year. That’s a tough spot to be in with two top 5 teams scheduled in the final month of the regular season. A loss to LSU wouldn’t kill the Rebels’ title chances, but it’d put them on life support.

The Tigers’ title hopes are already dead and buried, but they still have plenty for which to play. Les Miles isn’t fond of being an underdog, but that role is the only thing giving meaning to the rest of LSU’s season.

LSU isn’t the aggressor it normally is, but the Bayou Bengals are the complicating factor that could decide the SEC West from outside the pack.