Week 10 in college football obviously has the biggest college football game of the 2011 season in the form of No. 1 LSU's trip to Tuscaloosa to take on No. 2 Alabama. But there's much more to the week, especially near the top of the BCS rankings: LSU-'Bama is one of three games featuring two top-15 BCS teams, and all three will be happening simultaneously Saturday night.
If you have a multiple-TV setup, it will come in handy on this Saturday of showdowns.
No. 1 LSU at No. 2 Alabama, 8:00 p.m.
If LSU wins: The Tigers will have one of the most jaw-dropping midseason resumes in a while. Wins over the consensus No. 2 team in the country, the best or second-best team in the Pac-12, and the best or second-best team in the Big East are the foundation of an unimpeachable BCS resume. But all three of those wins would have come away from home, too, making the Tigers more durable road warriors than college football usually gets.
Insanely, though, LSU wouldn't even have eliminated all comers in the SEC West with a win; the Bayou Bengals would still need to stop Arkansas to win their division and head to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. But if Les Miles' team does run the table, the reward is basically a home game for a national title, as the BCS National Championship Game is in New Orleans this year -- just like it was for LSU's last two national championships.
And a one-loss Alabama team that fell at home might be out of the national title race. Pollsters would probably drop the Tide to sixth behind Oregon, and without any more top-20 teams on their schedule, the Tide would be left to root for a lot of losses.
If Alabama wins: The SEC West is all but clinched. The Crimson Tide would have given their only competition in the division (LSU and Arkansas) their only losses, and would seem rather unlikely to lose both (or either) of their remaining conference games against Mississippi State and Auburn.
But the more interesting thing may be how little a loss, especially a close one, would damage LSU. The Tigers would drop in the polls, but almost certainly not behind the Oregon team they mauled. And if the Ducks beat Stanford to win the Pac-12, LSU would probably be done a favor rather than poll-vaulted; Oregon's best win would be over a team whose best win was Washington, while LSU's best win would be over Oregon. It's conceivable that LSU could never leave the top five, even with one loss, and possible that the Tigers would only need losses by Oklahoma State (which must meet Oklahoma) and Stanford to get back into the top two, given how good their resume looks when compared to Boise State's. If you're cheering for an SEC rematch for a BCS title, hope that tonight's game is close and goes to Alabama.
No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 14 Kansas State, 8:00 p.m.
If Oklahoma State wins: The Cowboys keep on keeping on, move up to No. 2 in the BCS standings for Week 11, and make their annual Bedlam meeting with Oklahoma a de facto Big 12 Championship Game.
If Kansas State wins: The Wildcats would end up with a good shot at winning the Big 12 if they win out; Oklahoma State beating Oklahoma would likely produce a two-way tie at the top of the conference, and K-State would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Oh, and Oklahoma State would be out of the national championship race -- perhaps taking Oklahoma, no longer able to dethrone an undefeated top-two team at the end of the season, with it.
No. 7 Arkansas vs. No. 9 South Carolina, 7:15 p.m.
If Arkansas wins: The Razorbacks might yet get to the SEC Championship Game. They would have their destiny in their hands if LSU tops Alabama tonight, and could claim the SEC West with a victory over LSU that would likely throw the SEC West into a three-way tie settled by BCS rankings position. If Arkansas beats LSU after LSU beats Alabama, it will be hard for pollsters to rank them in an order other than Arkansas-LSU-Alabama, which could give the Hogs an unexpected SEC Championship Game berth.
If South Carolina wins: The SEC East is essentially South Carolina, period. 6-1 with a win over the only other one-loss team and one lone SEC contest left in the form of lowly Florida coming to Columbia next week? Yeah, Steve Spurrier and Co. would be returning to Atlanta.
No. 8 Oregon at Washington, 10:30 p.m.
If Oregon wins: The Pac-12 North becomes a two-team race, with the Oregon-Stanford winner taking the division barring multiple major upsets. And the Ducks keep very slim national championship aspirations alive.
If Washington wins: ... the Pac-12 North is probably still a two-team race. Oregon could lose this game and still win the division if it beats Stanford and forces a three-way tie. The Pac-12 divisional tiebreaker procedure would eliminate the lowest-ranked BCS team (hint: that will be Washington) first, and the Ducks would have the head-to-head advantage over the Cardinal.
So, really, this one's about Oregon's long, long, long shot at a BCS title.
No. 19 Arizona State at UCLA, 7:30 p.m.
If Arizona State wins: Meet your inaugural Pac-12 South champions. The Sun Devils would be two losses and a head-to-head victory clear of the next team eligible to go to the Pac-12 Championship Game (NCAA-sanction USC isn't), and would need a collapse for the ages to lose all three of their remaining games against Washington State, Arizona, and California.
If UCLA wins: The Bruins, somehow, would control their own destiny. They would need to win out to have any realistic shot at playing for the Pac-12 title, but would need only to top mediocre-to-bad conference newcomers Utah and Colorado and prevail "on the road" at USC to claim the South.