Outcome of the LSU-Auburn game will impact all sorts of folks
The game between No. 2 LSU and No. 9 Auburn on Saturday in Tiger Stadium has signification implications for all sorts of people.
First and foremost, for the two sets of Tigers and their fans bases, the outcome will determine who is the primary opponent for No. 1 Alabama in the SEC West division title competition.
So the game also is interesting to the Crimson Tide and their followers. Alabama will host LSU on Nov. 9 and visit Auburn for the Iron Bowl in the regular-season finale on Nov. 30.
But the interest in this game extends beyond Alabama, Louisiana and even the SEC as a whole.
The “Anybody But Bama,” folks, both inside and outside of the SEC, who have grown weary of the Tide perennially being in the thick of the SEC and national championship races, will look at this game with interest that exceeds their inherent loyalty to either sets of Tigers.
The winner of this game will champion their cause of beating out Alabama in the SEC West and damaging the Tide’s CFP hopes.
So there are a lot of folks interested in how this game turns out.
First, to the SEC West.
It’s pretty simple for LSU – win and create a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown in Tuscaloosa in 2 weeks. That’s assuming Bama beats Arkansas on Saturday, which should be automatic even with somebody named Mac Jones playing quarterback for the Tide instead of Tua Tagovailoa.
LSU and Alabama have open dates before facing each other – as they do most seasons. So if both win Saturday, the only uncertainty about their matchup – other than Tagovailoa’s availability for it – will be which team will be No. 1 and which will be No. 2.
The Tigers aren’t far behind the Tide in the most recent poll and a victory over Auburn would be a 3rd against a top 10 team and all 3 opponents would still be ranked. (The others are Florida and Texas).
Bama has played 1 team that was ranked at the time they played (No. 24 Texas A&M) and the Aggies quickly fell out of the rankings after that loss.
So the disparity in quality of competition would make it difficult for pollsters not to jump LSU past Alabama, especially after jumping Alabama past Clemson after Clemson barely defeated North Carolina, especially if the Tide’s level of play slips noticeably as Tagovailoa begins his recovery from ankle surgery.
But what if Auburn, which has a conference loss to Florida, beats LSU?
Then Auburn will put itself in position to claim the West by running the table, finishing 7-1 and holding the tiebreaker on LSU and Alabama.
So the winner of this game puts itself in the West driver’s seat – assuming it can beat Alabama, which is a dicey proposition even with Tagovailoa’s injury, which could heal fast enough for him to play against LSU and almost certainly fast enough to face Auburn.
That means the winner of this game will find itself joined by a fairly sizable group of “Anybody But Bama” folks prepared to cheer them on the rest of the way.
And if LSU or Auburn can win the West – and the eventual East champion, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma keep winning – the Tide could be squeezed out of the CFP picture.
So you don’t have to be just an LSU or Auburn fan to find a rooting interest in this game.