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Just 1 shot to be No. 1

No. 1 and No. 2 are still three breathless hyperventilation days away from kicking off Saturday's game of any century in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and people already are talking about a rematch.

It's as though winning five straight national championships affords the Southeastern Conference certain inalienable rights and the rest of us need to "hold this truth to be self-evident."

Hold your rematch musket powder.

God forbid Verne Lundquist should be allowed to christen "Oh my Gosh I" before having to worry about "Oh My Gosh II (I know what you did last November)."

Whether Louisiana State and Alabama should play again for the Jan. 9 title in New Orleans is already a drive-time topic and Gannett News Service poll question.

Nobody has bothered even to ponder the score of Saturday's epic in Alabama. What if a team wins by 25?

The retort to the rematch question should be: Absolutely not.

This isn't Ali-Frazier; this is goofy college football. You can't play two unless there's the prospect of a rubber match.

Let the winner of Saturday's game be exalted with the highest honor and let the vanquished cry in their grits.

It matters not that the SEC is the best conference or whether the Alabama-LSU loser might be the nation's second-best team.

You SEC fanatics can't have it both ways.

Many railed against a rematch in 2006 after No. 1 Ohio State won a 42-39 thriller over No. 2 Michigan in Columbus. Remember?

Even after Michigan lost, the Bowl Championship Series standings entering the final weekend were Ohio State, USC, Michigan and Florida.

UCLA's shocking 13-9 upset over USC threw the title match into a tizzy. It made standings sense that Michigan, which had not played since losing to Ohio State, might move back to No. 2 in the final BCS standings.

But voters didn't want to see a rematch and, by the narrowest of margins — a BCS average of .9445 to .9344 — Florida slipped by Michigan into the No. 2 spot.

Thank goodness.

Florida ended up beating Ohio State in the title game, while Michigan got roughed up by USC in the Rose Bowl.

It would be the first of five straight BCS titles for the SEC.

Why would logic now be different than it was then?

Alabama will get its chance to beat LSU on Saturday, and LSU will get its chance to beat Alabama. Neither team should get a second chance.

In a flawed, beauty-pageant sport with no playoff, there is no room for second chances.

It's better to get as many different looks as you can at the national title contenders.

Part of the postseason intrigue is seeing how rival conferences fare against one another. Auburn versus Oregon last year was more than a BCS title game, it was SEC versus Pac-10.

Gary Danielson, who will be providing analysis alongside Lundquist on Saturday's CBS broadcast, understands why Alabama and LSU should play only once this season.

"Why have conferences?" the Purdue man said this week on a conference call. "Why not just let everybody be independent? Because if conferences don't have consequences and conference championships don't have consequences, why are we doing this?"

Danielson understands this opinion might not go over well in SEC land — but it comes with the territory.

"In this league," Danielson said he has learned, "you can be 100 percent right and 50 percent of the people will hate you."

There are six undefeated teams in this weekend's play.

Any undefeated team other than Houston should get a shot at this Saturday's winner before Saturday's loser does.

The biggest potential political powder keg would be the No. 2 spot coming down to Saturday's loser versus undefeated Boise State. While you could argue the merits of the SEC West runner-up being more strength-of-schedule worthy, Boise State versus the undefeated SEC champion is the game America would want to see.

cdufresne@tribune.com

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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