Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/3/12
On Saturday night, for the third time in 18 months, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers will square off in a game that will impact the national title picture. But if LSU "upsets" Alabama on Saturday night, does anything really change? Alabama, the defending national champions, is led by the outstanding play of junior quarterback A.J. McCaron. The Tide has been No. 1 in the polls since the preseason. Now 8-0, the Crimson are heavily favored to appear in this season's national title game. The question now is who else gets a shot at the belt. With three undefeated teams sitting behind Bama, common sense suggests that an LSU victory would knock the defending national champions off the mountain, creating a vacancy for the No. 1 ranking in the country. But in the immortal words of Lee Corso, "Not so fast, sweetheart." LSU is 7-1 right now, with the Tigers' only loss coming to a very talented Florida team. Had the Tigers beaten the Gators, the title game picture would be right back where it started: No. 1 versus No. 2. Although the Tigers may be out of the national title picture right now, a win Saturday would change everything. With a victory over the top-ranked Tide, LSU should leapfrog undefeated Oregon, Notre Dame and Kansas State in the polls, advancing to second in the nation. But here's the catch -- Alabama deserves to remain No. 1, even if LSU wins. Assuming both teams finish their respective seasons without another loss after Saturday night's showdown, the national championship game should be Alabama vs. LSU for the second straight year. Would it be a mistake to have the same national championship game for the second year in a row? Absolutely not. Last November's 9-6 overtime thriller in Tuscaloosa was one of the greatest college football games in recent memory. And while it didn't contain the 70-point explosion that a team like Oregon or Kansas State can provide, it reminded some fans what it takes to win a national championship: defense. With a 21-0 Crimson victory in the national title game, the two 2011-12 meetings between Bama and the Tigers combined for a total of just 36 points -- two great defensive performances with just one touchdown. And for true fans of football -- not just those who like touchdowns -- it's something worth seeing again. Of course, until Saturday night's showdown, predicting the BCS rankings is pure speculation. For a national title rematch to happen, LSU must first beat the No. 1 team in the country. The Tigers must score on a defense that allows a hair over eight points a game, with a passing offense that ranks 109th in the country. No matter what happens Saturday night, Alabama deserves to have an opportunity to defend its national championship. But in regards to who will play the Tide -- well, that's up to LSU.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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