What Is On The Line In LSU-Florida Matchup?
After a whole lot of turmoil, controversy, and hurt feelings, the LSU-Florida game is finally happening this Saturday in Death Valley. As you know, the game was originally set to be played weeks ago in Gainesville, but after it was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew, the contest was rescheduled in Baton Rouge.
At the time, there was quite a bit of strife between the two schools. LSU worked tirelessly to find a way to play the game when it was originally scheduled, while Florida sat on their hands and did nothing. When it came time to reschedule the meeting, roles were reversed. Florida and the conference pushed hard to get it done, while LSU refused to play if it was not on their terms.
St the time, both programs were primed for conference title and playoff runs, so they had to get this game played if those hopes were to stay alive. But, things have not played out as the teams would have liked, as neither team is anywhere close to making the playoffs.
While the crown objective of college football is no longer in play, that doesn’t mean this is a meaningless game. In fact, when Florida and LSU take the field on Saturday, a lot will be at stake for both teams.
The SEC Championship Game
For the Tigers, there is no hope of a conference title appearance. The Alabama Crimson Tide have already done enough to lock down the SEC West division title after head-to-head wins over LSU and Auburn, so a trip to Atlanta is off the table.
That is not the case for Florida, however, as their SEC Championship hopes are still very much alive. With a win this Saturday, the Gators could lock up the SEC East division. Jim McElwain’s team would play for the title against the Alabama Crimson Tide for the second year in a row. Doing so would only increase his job security, as two SEC title game appearances in two years at the helm is fairly impressive.
But, if Florida loses to LSU tomorrow, Tennessee is automatically awarded the division championship, and the Volunteers will face off with Alabama in Atlanta.
The Sugar Bowl
As part of an automatic bowl tie-in, the winner of the SEC Championship is invited to play in the Sugar Bowl in years when the game is not one of the playoff semi-finals. The problem is, the top team in the SEC is usually a participant in the College Football Playoffs, so they are forced to fill the spot with another team.
When this happens, the Sugar Bowl always picks another SEC team to fill that empty void. So, as long as the second-best team in the conference isn’t in the playoffs as well, that school is invited to play in the bowl.
As of right now, Alabama is the number-one team in the country and a near lock to make the playoffs. The SEC’s next highest team in the rankings is LSU at 16th. If the season ended today, the Tigers would get the Sugar Bowl bid, but it doesn’t, and there are some teams on LSU’s heels. One of those is Florida, who is just a few spots behind. If LSU can win this game, it will go a long way towards securing a Sugar Bowl appearance, but if the Gators come out on top, that hope might be squashed for good.
Ed Orgeron’s Job
Since taking over as interim head coach when Les Miles was fired in September, Ed Orgeron has won over a lot of people. His success and ability to instill confidence have made him the likely favorite among fans and decision makers at LSU to win the head coaching job, but he still has a ways to go.
Coach O is competing with some pretty big potential outside hires, so despite his 4-1 record, he still has some work to do if he is to put himself atop the list.
With Florida, Texas A&M, and a bowl game still on the schedule, Orgeron has the chance to add some high-quality wins to his record before all is said-and-done. To win the job, he likely needs to win at least two of those three games, and that starts Saturday against the Gators. If his team comes up with a win, he can position himself nicely to be the next head coach of the LSU Tigers.