Coming Up at-Large

LSU's Dwayne Bowe (80) and defensive end Ricky Jean-Francois are given
LSU's Dwayne Bowe (80) and defensive end Ricky Jean-Francois are given "The Boot" after beating Arkansas. (By Jeff Mitchell -- Associated Press)
Sunday, November 26, 2006

The champions of the six power conferences will be there. So will Notre Dame and Michigan. Undefeated Boise State also clinched a spot in one of the five Bowl Championship Series games with yesterday's victory over Nevada.

That leaves one spot for an attractive team from a major conference. In the first season of five BCS games, Louisiana State has emerged as the favorite to earn the final at-large bid after it beat Arkansas and West Virginia lost to South Florida in the past two days.

Perhaps the only way two-loss LSU won't be invited is if Arkansas beats Florida in next week's Southeastern Conference championship game. If that scenario unfolds, Arkansas would earn the automatic berth and Florida likely would receive an at-large invitation. No more than two schools from a conference can be invited to BCS games.

The other conference to watch is the Big East. Louisville can win the conference title if West Virginia beats Rutgers next week in Morgantown. If Rutgers beats the Mountaineers, the Scarlet Knights will conclude an improbable run to a BCS berth, and the Cardinals, whose only defeat came at Rutgers, would be in the running for an at-large bid.

The strongest case, though, could probably be made by LSU, which is considered by many to be as talented as any SEC team. All four of LSU's road games came against teams ranked in the top eight at the time.

The Tigers have now won six straight after their 23-10 loss at Florida. As a result, Coach Les Miles became the first LSU coach to win at least 10 games in back-to-back seasons.

"I don't think there is any question" LSU is BCS-worthy, Miles told reporters after his team's 31-26 victory at Arkansas on Friday. "We need a very strong opponent, and we need a nice spot to play in."

That "spot" could be the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

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