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LSU-Florida Rivalry Actually Among SEC's Fairest, In A Way

LSU athletic director Joe Alleva doesn't like the idea of playing Florida every year, saying, "I just think it creates a competitive inequity in the whole league." He has a point, echoed by Les Miles: "Mississippi State is going to play Kentucky every year. I think that's disproportionate. I'm not for that."

The Tigers' cross-division rivalry series is indeed more challenging than Mississippi State's is. If LSU football were on the same plane as Mississippi State football, that would be a compelling argument.

The plea to save the series has been made with force by Florida fans and by LSU fans alike, but let's take a look at just how unfair the pairing is (especially considering LSU and Florida have each won multiple titles in the past decade despite having a tough rivalry). Using Football Study Hall's five-year and 100-year rankings:

SEC West Team 5-Year Rating SEC East Team 5-Year Rating Diff.

Arkansas 11.7 Missouri 11.6 0.1

LSU 20.8 Florida 21.7 0.9

Auburn 10.8 Georgia 12.8 2

Mississippi State 2.9 Kentucky 0.9 2

Ole Miss 2 Vanderbilt -3.8 5.8

Texas A&M 2.2 South Carolina 10 7.8

Alabama 25.1 Tennessee 5.3 19.8

SEC West Team 100-Year Rating SEC East Team 100-Year Rating Diff.

Ole Miss 221.8 Vanderbilt 222.9 1.1

Arkansas 218.9 Missouri 214 4.9

Auburn 264.9 Georgia 274.8 9.9

Mississippi State 206 Kentucky 217.6 11.6

LSU 260.1 Florida 232.7 27.4

Alabama 311.9 Tennessee 278.7 33.1

Texas A&M 239.4 South Carolina 183.2 56.2

Over the past five years, LSU and Florida have had pretty much the same level of success. They're almost perfectly matched up. It's a tough game for both sides, but it's a different kind of fair. The elite teams play the elite teams. That's the burden and the benefit of college football rivalries.

And once you look past recent history, LSU's been the far stronger program, giving Tigers admins even less to complain about.

Every other rivalry seems to work out just fine, even that A&M-South Carolina oddity. The Aggies have had a much better program overall, but Carolina's been better as of late. And Mizzou-Arkansas could get really good really quickly.

(Tennessee's past five years are an outlier. They're actually one of the strongest SEC teams over the long haul -- second-strongest, according to FSH's numbers -- making them the East team best qualified to play the Tide every year.)

While we’re here, let’s watch some college football videos from SB Nation’s new YouTube channel together:

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