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What's next for LSU?

11/4/2012

BATON ROUGE, La. -- It was LSU's biggest recruiting day of the year.

A cavalcade of prep stars were in Tiger Stadium, from the nation's top receiver, Ricky Seals-Jones, to Louisiana's top player, Kendell Beckwith. They witnessed LSU look like the national championship program they want to play for in a 21-17 loss to No. 1 Alabama where the Tigers dominated everything but the last drive and the final score.

And that's the tough part for LSU to swallow: The next time LSU contends for a championship will be after many of the prospects are wearing purple and gold. For this year, those hopes are dashed.

Gone for No. 5 LSU (7-2) is a shot at the BCS national championship. With one loss, the Tigers could easily see a scenario where a couple of the unbeatens -- Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame -- get upset, opening the door for a one-loss SEC champion to go to Miami. With two losses? Forget it.

Also gone is any hope for an SEC title. With two SEC losses, you can forget any possibility of the Tigers clawing their way to Atlanta as SEC West champion.

So what now, Tigers?

"I've been in situations where you have two losses and you go on and play in a big bowl game and have a good time," tackle Josh Dworaczyk said. "So the season is right there in front of us and it's up to us as a team to refocus our energy and set some new goals and go out there and achieve them."

There are still some attractive possibilities for the Tigers.

By winning out, LSU could go 10-2, which would set the Tigers up nicely for a bowl game, possibly even the Sugar Bowl. If the Tigers manage to sweep their final three against Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Arkansas, LSU would finish 10-2. If Alabama were to blow out Georgia or Florida in the SEC championship game or if the SEC East champion stubs its toe before the conference championship game and finishes with three losses (say, a Florida loss to Florida State, for example), LSU would be an attractive bet to go to New Orleans.

Short of that, the Tigers could still earn a trip to the Cotton Bowl in what could be a blockbuster matchup with the No. 2 team from the Big 12, possibly an Oklahoma (also a strong candidate for the Sugar Bowl), Texas or maybe the matchup with Oklahoma State many college football fans -- especially LSU fans -- wish happened last season.

Worst case scenario if LSU wins out would be a trip to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando where the Tigers would face an intriguing storyline possibility: A possible matchup with LSU coach Les Miles' alma mater, Michigan.

Indeed, there are still intriguing possibilities out there for the Tigers, just not the one it set out for in August.

And there's little the Tigers can do about that now, except scheme for next year.

Sam Montgomery, LSU's junior defensive end who projects to be a first-round NFL draft pick, said he'll leave it to the underclassmen.

"I remember my first year here when we did not win a national championship and somebody told me it's going to be your role to seek revenge," he said. "I can lead these guys to a title, but it's going to be the younger guy's responsibility to seek revenge in the future.

"Rivalries never die."