Even while taking bows and soaking in all the attaboys after beating Alabama, there seems to be this lingering ache in the pit of LSU fans' stomach.

In fact, it might even go beyond LSU fans — after all, last Saturday most of America was purple and gold in spirit, living vicariously through the Tigers with every defiant answer they had to the dastardly Tide's attempts to get back into the game.

It was, written in one tweet, 491⁄2 states rooting for the Tigers (perhaps giving a little too much weight to the Auburn lobby in the state of Alabama).

Please, they screamed, free America from the bane of Bama Fatigue. Deliver us from this evil. And they all celebrated as one when the deed was done.

Still, there's this slight uneasiness. Hard to put your finger on it, right?

Yes, the Tigers beat Alabama.

But … but … you know … did LSU really kill the Tide?

Is the wicked witch really dead at last?

Maybe. Probably. It would seem so. Sort of.

Certainly it was there for the doing with LSU's 20-point halftime lead. And no matter the final score, 46-41, it's worth noting that the Tide never had the ball in the second half with a mathematical chance to tie the score.

But if we know anything about Alabama and Nick Saban, it's kind of like Dracula. You get him backed in the corner and down on the ground, you still have to drive that wooden stake through the heart.

Did LSU do that?

Was the one loss enough to give college football what most of it desperately wants, which for the first time ever would be a College Football Playoff without the Crimson Tide.

We've seen presumed dead Bama teams rise up in the past without either a division or conference championship to its name and … we're baaaack.

It's when everybody in the theater screams and spills the popcorn.

The previously unbeaten Tide was working with a flimsy résumé, anyway. The Eye Test is its only hope at this point.

So there's this nagging squeamishness over the matter.

If somehow Alabama still ends up as one of the four CFP teams, the Tigers may lament forever the 85-yard touchdown pass they gave up on the first play after taking a 46-34 lead with 1:21 to play.

Given the near-death experiences LSU has had defending onside kicks this season, it sure had all the Tigers squirming. It turned out OK, and the Tigers' one last exclamation point was pretty emphatic, running Clyde Edwards-Helaire straight up the middle exactly like everybody in the stadium knew was going to happen, and bulldozing the Tide for 12 yards and a first down that iced the game.

What in the world was LSU doing playing tight, press coverage on the extraneous touchdown pass? Why wasn't half the secondary lined up like a marching band at the 50-yard line?

"Hindsight is 20⁄20," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said this week. "But if we look at that situation again, we'd probably be in a different defense."

No kidding. What if that late seven points ­— the difference in 46-41 and 46-34 — turns into the bargaining chip Alabama needs to make it a more acceptable loss and sneak into the playoffs?

It only dropped the Tide to No. 5 in the most recent CFP rankings, although most agree that, with its remaining schedule, that may be Bama's ceiling.

Promises, promises …

"We don't control our own destiny anymore," Saban admitted after the game.

Sure. But destiny schmestiny. Convenient Bama Good Fortune is another matter, real and breathing.

With its résumé, LSU could have survived a loss much easier than the Tide.

But the Tigers know better than anybody the danger of not killing the Red Elephant absolutely dead when you have the chance.

What if they left open the remote possibility of giving the Tide a rematch in the playoffs?

"Whoever they tell us to play … if we do get there, we're gonna play them," Orgeron said. "If it's Alabama, it's Alabama. That's out of our control. I do believe the best teams need to be in the College Football Playoff."

Did he learn nothing from 2011, when Les Miles said that he'd be "honored to play that team again" immediately after the 9-6 slugfest.

Refresh your memory: Alabama 21, LSU 0 in the Bowl Championship Series title rematch.

Sure, it's a long shot.

The SEC has a decent chance of getting two teams into the playoff, and right now neither of them would be named Alabama. If one-loss Georgia wins out, including beating LSU in the SEC championship, and both would likely be in.

To have any possible chance for Alabama to bring its Eye Test argument into play, the Tide have to pull for LSU (to stay unbeaten through the SEC championship game) and Auburn (to beat Georgia). Bama Nation will have to swallow hard on that one. And maybe seeing the Tide humbled into hat-in-hand behavior makes it worth it to a Bama-weary nation.

Even then it doesn't seem likely without a whole lot of sun-spot type activity around the rest of college football.

But can you ever really be sure?


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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