What bowl game will LSU football make? Here are our best projections.
It's been a year filled with pleasant surprises for Tigers fans, as LSU has defeated Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama and Arkansas in consecutive weeks to launch themselves into the top 10 of the College Football Playoff rankings while securing an SEC West title and a trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 3.
Here's a look at the bowl game landscape for LSU, which is in a prime position to play in a New Year's Six bowl game for the first time since 2019.
Ceiling: Fiesta or Peach Bowl
BRIAN KELLY WANTS CHOWDER:Brian Kelly explains why LSU football had chicken broth on sideline, says he wanted clam chowder
LSU FOOTBALL TV UPDATE VS. TEXAS A&M:LSU football vs. Texas A&M: TV time and schedule update
HAROLD PERKINS' FLU GAME:Why Brian Kelly brought up Michael Jordan's 'greatest game' before LSU's Harold Perkins had his
The only path for LSU to reach the Peach or Fiesta Bowl would be if it won its next two games over UAB and Texas A&M and defeated No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. If LSU does that, then it would likely make the College Football Playoff, and this year the Fiesta and Peach Bowls are the host sites for the CFP semifinals.
Sounds simple right? Win and you're in.
Well ... not quite.
Save for lackluster performances against Kent State and Missouri, Georgia has been unstoppable this season. The Bulldogs' defense held Tennessee, perhaps the best offense in the nation, to 13 points and their offense is averaging over 40 points.
More than two weeks before the SEC title game, Georgia is already around a 16-point favorite, and the number probably won't waiver much. The Bulldogs face Kentucky – which just lost to Vanderbilt – and Georgia Tech to finish the regular season.
But, if LSU upsets Georgia and reaches the playoff, the Tigers as a No. 2 or 3 seed would likely face TCU or have a rematch with Tennessee or Georgia in the Fiesta Bowl, assuming that Ohio State or Michigan earns the top seed and chooses to play in the Peach Bowl.
Most likely outcome: Sugar Bowl
In the more probable event, in which LSU wins its final two regular season games and falls to Georgia in the SEC Championship, the Tigers would likely find themselves in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl for the 14th time in program history.
If No. 5 Tennessee reaches the College Football Playoff because of a TCU, Ohio State or Michigan loss, then LSU would be the top SEC team that's ineligible for the playoff.
The top non-playoff SEC team plays against the top non-playoff Big 12 team in the Sugar Bowl. Given that TCU is in the playoff field, the next best Big 12 program would be Kansas State. So yes, a rematch of last season's odd Texas Bowl – a game in which LSU played a wide receiver at quarterback and lost 42-20 with 39 scholarship players – could be in the cards, but this time in New Orleans.
However, this could all be avoided if Tennessee misses the playoff and maintains its spot as the No. 1 non-Georgia SEC team. In that case, LSU would play in the Orange or Cotton Bowl.
Worst-case scenario: Citrus Bowl
LSU loses at least one of the next two games against UAB and Texas A&M while also getting embarrassed in the SEC Championship Game by Georgia. The losses cost the Tigers a spot in a New Year's Six Bowl, as Alabama and Ole Miss leapfrog them in the SEC hierarchy for bowl selections.
In the Citrus Bowl, LSU would play the Big Ten's highest-rated team not in a New Year's Six game. That team could be Penn State, Illinois, Iowa, Purdue, Minnesota or Wisconsin.
Koki Riley covers LSU sports for The Daily Advertiser and the USA TODAY Sports South Region. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @KokiRiley.