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Joe Medley: Winking back at history’s lesson about Bama-LSU

Another Alabama-LSU “Game of the Century” has brewed, and it’s another highly hyped reminder that ideals and what’s real can diverge like the two 2011 games between these two.

Ideal: the regular-season matters in college football.

Real: hold my beer.

It clearly didn’t matter in 2011. LSU won Game of Century I, 9-6, in what seemed to be a Bowl Championship Series-era elimination game.

Of course, history says that an Alabama team that didn’t win its SEC division, let alone the SEC, got another chance at LSU. They played in the BCS title game, and Alabama throttled LSU 21-0.

The outcome became the justification, but the outcome had nothing to do with the regular season. You know, the regular season? The thing that’s supposed to matter in major college football more than any other sport?

We live in the four-team playoff era now. Those opposed to expanding the playoff would cry loudly, predictably and not wrongly that more playoff teams would lessen the impact of the regular season.

Enter Game of Century II, LSU’s game at Alabama today. No one doubts that the Nos. 2 and 3 teams in this week’s first release of College Football Playoff committee standings could make the playoffs, regardless of outcome.

We’re talking the SEC here. We’re talking Nick Saban-era Alabama here. Argue strength of schedule all one wants, but a picture of Saban illustrates the “eye-test” argument.

Both teams making the playoffs would surprise no one, save any stragglers that might still take the hype hook about today’s game. The rest wink back at history’s smile.

There could be another Alabama-LSU game this season, and it might not look anything like the one we all watch today. That would mean that, once again, the regular season mattered everywhere but the SEC.

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.