LSU Bowl Projections

LSU's regular season may have been a bit of a disappointment to this point, but plenty of postseason possibilities remain. TSD's Hunter Paniagua and Ben Love provide their analysis of which bowl game LSU might land in.

Ben's take…

With three losses already through 10 games, and all in conference play, it's becoming an increasingly difficult chore to predict where LSU will land come bowl season. At this point it appears likely the Tigers will finish behind Alabama, Auburn and Missouri in the SEC and, depending on what happens next weekend when the Aggies come to Baton Rouge, possibly Texas A&M, Georgia and South Carolina.

That type of positioning removes the Sugar Bowl and Capital One Bowl as possibilities for LSU. Dropping down to the next tier, SEC West teams typically receive bids to either the Cotton Bowl or the Chick-fil-A Bowl. I've received word from a team source that LSU will not accept a bid to the Chick-fil-A Bowl if invited back for a second straight bowl season. So the Cotton Bowl remains a viable option, but only for a three-loss LSU team and only if Texas A&M and Auburn end up elsewhere (Sugar, Capital One, Outback).

However, should either the Aggies or the War Eagles end up in Arlington (which will be a lock if Missouri finds a way to the Sugar Bowl), LSU will wonder into unchartered territory, at least when you consider the program's bowl destinations over the past 10-12 years. In that scenario, suddenly the Gator Bowl and the Music City Bowl, in that order, are very much on the table, especially if the Tigers have four losses. Both bowls – located in Jacksonville, Fla., and Nashville, Tenn., respectively – traditionally take Eastern Division teams, but they don't have to. And, when taking into consideration that the Gator Bowl takes the SEC's No. 6 team and the Music City the No. 7 team, that could be around the area LSU ends up in 2013 (for perspective sake, keep in mind that Cotton gets the SEC's No. 3 or 4 team and Chick-fil-A gets No. 5).

So, with the outcome of the A&M game still to be determined, I project LSU goes to either the Cotton Bowl or the Gator Bowl with Music City as the longest shot. A win over the Aggies puts the Tigers in better shape to end this season where they started it (in Jerry World).

Hunter's take…

In order to properly project LSU's bowl destination, I must first make a couple assumptions. Alabama will remain undefeated and clinch a spot in the BCS National Championship, including victories against Auburn in the Iron Bowl and Missouri in the SEC Championship Game. In this scenario, that frees the Sugar Bowl to accept an SEC at-large, and leaves both Tiger teams with two conference losses but ahead of South Carolina and Georgia in the pecking order.

The Cotton Bowl is very much in play for LSU
That leaves this Texas A&M-LSU game as the biggest factor in determining the conference's bowl games. If the Aggies win, they'll have a strong case for the Sugar Bowl. Though Auburn has the head-to-head win, that doesn't matter as much to these bowl committees. The allure of getting Johnny Manziel for his final collegiate game would drive ratings and attendance, and that's something the Sugar Bowl would love to cash in on.

In that scenario, Missouri likely heads to the Capital One Bowl with the Cotton Bowl, which traditionally takes SEC West teams, deciding between either Auburn or LSU. Though Auburn would have the better record, LSU has the head-to-head win and would be the more attractive draw. The folks at Jerry's World are obviously big fans of LSU with their strong alumni base in the Dallas area, but it might be hard for them to take a four-loss team over a two-loss team.

If the Cotton Bowl does opt for Auburn, that pushes LSU down to either the Outback Bowl or Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Outback traditionally sticks with East teams, only taking one West team (Auburn 2009) in the last 16 years. As Ben mentioned earlier, the Chick-fil-A doesn't seem like a possibility, so that might drop LSU down to the Gator Bowl. Now the Outback may extend out of its comfort zone and take an LSU team because of the passionate fan base, but the odds are with them sticking with their East tie-in.

The Gator Bowl isn't as tied to division affiliations, having taken Mississippi State in two of the last three years, and the folks in Jacksonville would love to get a team like LSU, who hasn't played in that game since 1987.

Now if LSU beats Texas A&M on Nov. 23, you can probably pencil LSU into the Cotton Bowl, with Auburn or Missouri likely getting the BCS bid and the other getting the Capital One. That would probably be the cleanest way for all this to end up, but getting a victory against the Aggies is all but guaranteed.


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