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LSU Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide Preview: LSU's Last Chance to Stay Alive in the West

The Bayou Bengals still have a slim chance of winning the division. But they have to defeat the Tide tonight

Kevin C. Cox

LSU Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide, 8 p.m. ET, CBS

LSU will cover. That's the conventional wisdom given the double-digit spread in what has been a competitive game, and it's probably sound. The question here isn't really whether the Tigers can cover, but whether they can pull off the upset that would open up the SEC West just a bit.

For the most part, this year in the West has become another march by Alabama to the division title and toward the national title game. The Tide has been the SEC West representative in the SEC Championship Game in three of the last five years, and its two wins were both part of national-title seasons. Alabama is now one of two teams that control its destiny in the SEC West -- the other is Auburn -- and perhaps the only team in the nation that truly controls its own destiny in the national championship race.

A win against LSU doesn't really change the former -- the Tide can still win out and go to Atlanta at the end of the year -- but obliterates the latter. But a win actually gives LSU the slightest chance to win the SEC West. How?

First, as we noted, LSU has to win tonight, which is no small task. Then, Auburn has to lose to Georgia next week (which is by no means impossible), only to turn around and beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl. (That's a little more improbable, but also not impossible.) LSU would win the three-team tie by virtue of holding the head-to-head against Alabama and Auburn. But if LSU loses, then it's officially Alabama and Auburn down the stretch for the SEC West.

But I don't see that happening. I expect the bizarre twists and turns that we've come to expect in this game, but Alabama is just slightly better than LSU. LSU will cover, but Alabama will win where it really counts.

Alabama 30, LSU 21