D’Andre Swift

Georgia senior Brian Herrien might see more work on Saturday if D’Andre Swift isn’t at full speed.

Oh, for the good old days when the Southeastern Conference championship game really meant something.

Maybe it still does.

The SEC, which invented conference title games — much to the betterment of mankind, by the way — certainly clings to it. All the other conferences eventually followed suit — SEC Envy at its best — if for no other reason than they knew the SEC is never wrong about college football.

Pretty sure there's still a trophy involved, a nice one at that.

Maybe, you know, It Just Means More.

But you'll generally find a brand of stadium electricity not to be duplicated until the national championship game.

In the SEC, getting to Atlanta still means something.

Yet some will tell you it's a relic that has outlived its intended charter, if not its usefulness.

The radicals of the game would tell you these conference affairs should be replaced by the opening-round games of, say, a 16- or 32-, maybe even a full 64-game playoff to nudge this great land of ours ever closer to Everybody Gets a Trophy utopia.

That's not really LSU's concern come Saturday.

Just the opposite, as a matter of fact.

LSU has been assured by just about everyone with a blog or a social media account that they're in Atlanta just for R&R.

The SEC trophy would be some nice bling, but the big picture is that the Tigers can mail in a game plan Saturday afternoon.

Maybe you heard.

But win or lose, LSU is going to make the College Football Playoff, even with a mere four teams. The rest is just window dressing.

LSU's 12-0 résumé, the story line goes, is already chock-full of enough quality wins that, barring a total beat down, the Tigers still won't have to sweat out Sunday morning's formal coronation ceremony.

Pretty nice fall-back plan, huh?

Just don't tell it to head coach Ed Orgeron.

"Uh-uh," Orgeron said, trying his Cajun best to act like he'd never heard the theory. "I'm not buying into that at all. We got to win.

"I don't know if we got to win to get to the playoffs or not. I'm not even thinking about that. Our goal is to beat Georgia and win the SEC and then let's see what happens.

"We're not talking about that."

Well, coach, that's the word on the streets — that this game is just about seeding.

Not to worry.

LSU has been in this pickle before. In fact, the last time the Tigers in were in the SEC championship game in 2011, the same scenario was in play with a 12-0 record, with even fewer close pursuers (zero) than this year.

That was during the old BCS days, when only two teams got in. They used a couple of polls and bunch of computer machines, and LSU was in, in, in.

The SEC championship game was against, uh, Georgia, I guess it was.

It was bad. LSU did not make a single first down in the first half. The Tigers passed for only 30 yards the entire game, managed only five completions.

It was ugly. Oh, and as a side note, the Tigers won the game 42-10. The Honey Badger (Tyrann Mathieu) pretty well handled the details.

The Tigers' "reward" for taking care of business with no real motivation was a rematch with Alabama for the national championship and, if you recall, that did not go particularly well and, last anybody checked, Jarrett Lee still hasn't replaced Jordan Jefferson. No telling what the BCS would have done to them if the Tigers had lost that SEC game.

That won't be a dilemma this year.

Bama is out of the picture, even with four teams.

But this year this game matters, we are told, because this year, maybe just this once, seeding matters.

LSU has the best résumé but is No. 2 in the CFP pecking order because everybody knows Ohio State is the best team in the country despite not playing anybody. And there's this deep suspicion that No. 3 Clemson might really be the best team; it's just hard to prove it when you're playing absolutely nobody.

LSU has played plenty-of-body, and with Georgia now gets the toughest matchup of any of the top teams in conference championships.

Would that do it? Would that nudge the Tigers ahead of Ohio State's Eye Test?

As I understand it, being No. 1 means something this time because it means avoiding Clemson in the semifinals, while for LSU losing would mean falling to No. 4 and likely playing Ohio State.

No. 1 is the garden spot, with a game against To Be Determined, reportedly a plucky bunch.

Would a win over Georgia matter?

There's even a watchdog group at work thinking the CFP selection committee is already at work propping up Ohio State's past opponents, just to even up the Buckeyes' résumé with its Eye Test.

Not sure I buy that, but if the Tigers win they'd at least make the committee answer some hard questions about it.

They'll probably need to throw for more than 30 yards.


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

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