BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU coach Les Miles doesn't pretend to know the pecking order of college football's best teams.
Miles knows only that his Tigers are No. 1 after defeating No. 2 Alabama 9-6 in overtime at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
"There's a tremendous amount of great teams in the country," Miles said Sunday night. "For me to tell you I know the pecking order in any way would be a misrepresentation. All I know is who we've played and who I've seen."
Miles has now seen the Crimson Tide up close and was very impressed by what he saw.
So much so that if LSU is fortunate enough to play in the Jan. 9 Allstate BCS National Championship Game in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Miles said he wouldn't have a problem playing the Crimson Tide again. And Miles wouldn't even care that the Tigers would be at risk of losing a national championship to an opponent they already had defeated on the road.
"I wouldn't care who they lined up against us," Miles said. "It would be amazing to be there. If it happened to be Alabama, a very quality team, I wouldn't mind. I'm all for playing Alabama in the game."
As it stands now, Alabama would need help in getting to New Orleans, but the odds of an SEC West rematch in the BCS Championship Game increased significantly Sunday night. The Crimson Tide were No. 3 in the latest BCS standings, ahead of No. 4 Stanford and No. 5 Boise State, two undefeated teams.
No. 1 LSU was followed by No. 2 Oklahoma State, and those two teams likely would meet in New Orleans if they win the rest of their regular-season games. Stanford would figure to jump the Crimson Tide if it keeps winning, too. But if OSU and Stanford each lose one of their remaining games, Alabama probably would be next in line to play LSU again.
"We have a lot of work to do to get there," Miles said. "But if we get to the back end and the rest of the country has a hard time making a case that they're as good as Alabama, I'm all for playing Alabama in the game."
If Miles doesn't have a problem with LSU playing Alabama again for a national championship, the rest of college football shouldn't oppose the idea, either.
LSU and Alabama are clearly the best two teams in the country and are head and shoulders above the rest. It's a shame they can't play each other again in the SEC championship game.
You want a plus-one playoff? Let the Tigers and Crimson Tide play three times this season, with the best-of-three winner claiming a national championship. LSU and Alabama are that much better than everyone else this season.
If LSU wins out and wins the SEC West, critics will suggest Alabama shouldn't play for a national championship because it didn't win its conference. But when the dust settles on the college football season, the two best teams should play for a national championship, no matter the circumstances.
If the champions-only argument existed in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers would have never won Super Bowl XLV. The Packers finished one game behind the Chicago Bears in the NFC North standings last season but then won four straight games as a wild card in the playoffs, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 to win the Super Bowl.
In Major League Baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals finished six games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central standings this past season before defeating the Texas Rangers 6-2 in Game 7 of the World Series.
History suggests that the odds of an LSU-Alabama rematch in the BCS title game are slim. After No. 1 Ohio State defeated No. 2 Michigan 42-39 in their 2006 regular-season finale, the Wolverines argued they deserved another chance at facing the Buckeyes in the BCS title game. But No. 3 Florida jumped the Wolverines in the final BCS standings, and the Gators routed Ohio State 41-14 in the BCS Championship Game.
Here's the difference, though: At the end of the 2006 regular season, you could argue that Florida was better than Michigan. But if Alabama wins out this season, you couldn't argue that another one-loss team -- or even undefeated Boise State -- is better than the Crimson Tide.
Especially not after SEC teams won the past five BCS national championships.
"This league is so competitive and so good," Miles said. "The West Division has an unbelievable array of teams. I would not bemoan in any way the opportunity to play another SEC team [for a national championship]."
Of course, Miles knows the Tigers will have to win the rest of their games to have a chance at winning the school's third BCS national championship in the past nine seasons.
When the Tigers won their last BCS national title after the 2007 season, they lost twice during the final two months of the season (43-37 at Kentucky in overtime and 50-48 in overtime to Arkansas at home) before routing Ohio State 38-24 in the BCS title game.
LSU will host seemingly overmatched Western Kentucky on Saturday night, then play two more SEC regular-season games, at Ole Miss on Nov. 19 and at home against No. 8 Arkansas on Nov. 25. If the Tigers win those games, they'll play the SEC East champion in the Dec. 3 SEC championship game in Atlanta's Georgia Dome.
Oklahoma State will play at Texas Tech on Saturday and at Iowa State on Nov. 18. The Pokes will close the regular season against No. 6 Oklahoma in the Dec. 3 Bedlam game in Stillwater, Okla. The Big 12 does not have a championship game this season.
The Cardinal will host No. 7 Oregon on Saturday night in a game that might decide which Pac-12 North team plays in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game on Dec. 2. Stanford will close the regular season with consecutive home games against California on Nov. 19 and Notre Dame on Nov. 26.
If Oklahoma State wins out, it will deserve a chance to play LSU for a national championship. The same goes for Stanford, if the Pokes slip up along the way.
But if those two teams lose somewhere down the line, Alabama would be the most deserving team to play LSU for a national title.
Boise State has proved its mettle in the past few years, but the Broncos simply haven't done enough this season to deserve a shot at playing for a national championship. Beating Georgia -- arguably the fourth-best team in the SEC -- and rebuilding TCU (the Horned Frogs play at Boise State on Saturday) shouldn't be enough to earn a team a chance to play for a national title.
If you watched Saturday night's game in Tuscaloosa, it was easy to see that the Tigers and Crimson Tide play defense better than any other teams in the country. LSU's offense had been solid before facing Alabama, averaging 39.2 points in their previous eight games. The Tigers blasted Oregon 40-27 in their opener at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and beat West Virginia 47-21 on the road.
Alabama's offense had been just as explosive before facing LSU, averaging 39.4 points in its first eight games. The Crimson Tide won 27-11 at Penn State and routed Arkansas 38-14 at home.
Alabama's and LSU's defenses just have a way of making offenses looking bad -- even their own.
"Every play just seemed to count," Miles said.
Suggesting that the latest "Game of the Century" was boring because it was devoid of scoring is like calling one of Nolan Ryan's seven no-hitters mundane.
As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
These eyes have seen Alabama and LSU multiple times, and it's crystal clear to me that they're the two best teams in the country, no matter how you look at them.
On the Mark
• Miles knew he would need senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson to win a game at some point this season, even after Jefferson missed the Tigers' first four games. Jefferson was suspended from the team indefinitely after he was arrested for his role in a fight outside a Baton Rouge bar in late August.
After senior Jarrett Lee threw two interceptions against Alabama, Jefferson played most of the second half. He completed 6 of 10 passes for 67 yards and ran 11 times for 43 yards, mostly on option plays. Miles said he planned on using Jefferson at some point in the game but didn't know he'd play that much.
"The option runs had to work," Miles said. "You couldn't run straight at Alabama because they're so big and strong."
Miles wouldn't say much about his quarterback situation Sunday night. Lee, who was dogged by interceptions during his redshirt freshman season in 2008, had gone 59 straight possessions without a turnover until playing the Crimson Tide.
"He's been through this before," Miles said. "He's thrown picks before. Both quarterbacks are going to be counted on in the back of the end of the season, and we're going to go forward from there."
• Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore broke an NCAA record that might never be broken again on Saturday. Moore won his 46th game as the Broncos' starter, breaking the NCAA record previously held by former Texas star Colt McCoy, who won 45 games from 2006 to '09. If Boise State wins the rest of its games and Moore starts them all, he'll have 51 wins when his college career ends. Unless another quarterback starts as a freshman and plays on a team that wins more than 12 games every season, Moore's record probably will stand the test of time.
• Northwestern backup quarterback Kain Colter did a little bit of everything in the Wildcats' 28-25 victory over then-No. 10 Nebraska on Saturday. After replacing injured quarterback Dan Persa in the second quarter, Colter ran for 57 yards and two touchdowns, threw for 115 yards and one score and caught three passes for 57 yards.
"The sky is the limit for him and for his future," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said.
Colter, a sophomore from Denver, is the son of former Colorado player Spencer Colter, who played on the Buffaloes' 1990 national championship team.
• Give UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel a lot of credit. His team and his future as coach of his alma mater looked dead after an ugly 48-12 loss at Arizona on Oct. 20, in which the Bruins had 11 penalties and two turnovers and were involved in an ugly brawl. Somehow, UCLA recovered to win its next two games, including a 29-28 upset of then-No. 19 Arizona State on Saturday. The Bruins (5-4) are one victory from becoming bowl-eligible and somehow are alive in the Pac-12 South title race.
Off the Mark
• Rarely have fortunes turned on a coach as quickly as Ole Miss' Houston Nutt. After he guided the Rebels to nine victories and Cotton Bowl appearances in each of his first two seasons, Nutt's teams have lost 12 straight SEC games, the longest drought in school history, including a 30-13 loss at Kentucky on Saturday.
On Monday, Nutt announced he would resign at the end of this season, this after the Rebels slipped to 6-15 over the past two seasons. The school will owe him as much as $6 million in a buyout, according to his contract.
The Rebels likely will try to hire a hot SEC coordinator, like Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn or Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.
• Maybe North Carolina interim coach Everett Withers should have spent more time coaching instead of hurling insults at rival NC State last week. After Withers took shots at the Wolfpack's academic credentials, NC State shut out the Tar Heels 13-0, beating UNC for the fifth straight season. It was NC State's first shutout victory since a 14-0 victory over South Florida in the 2005 Meineke Car Care Bowl.
Withers and NC State coach Tom O'Brien traded verbal jabs last week. Withers started the dispute when he told reporters: "I think the kids in this state need to know 'the flagship school.' They need to know it academically. If you look at our graduation rates as opposed to our opponent this week's graduation rates for football, I think you'll see a difference. If you look at the educational environment here, I think you'll see a difference."
Of course, it didn't take O'Brien long to criticize UNC for its recent NCAA troubles, which included allegations of improper contact with agents and academic misconduct. Withers became interim coach after former UNC coach Butch Davis was fired in July.
"As far as the flagship," O'Brien told reporters, "here was a guy who was on a football staff that ends up in Indianapolis [in front of the NCAA infractions committee], that if you take three things that you can't do in college football -- you have an agent on your staff, you're paying your players and you have academic fraud. I mean, that's a triple play as far as the NCAA goes.
"I don't know what [Withers] has anything to talk about or they have anything to talk about. If that's what the people want in their flagship university in North Carolina, then so be it."
• So much for Texas Tech's being able to handle unexpected success. Since upsetting No. 3 Oklahoma 41-38 on Oct. 22, the Red Raiders have lost consecutive games to Iowa State and Texas by a combined score of 93-27. Texas Tech's defense was shredded for 1,107 yards of offense in those losses. Texas freshman Joe Bergeron ran for 191 yards with three touchdowns in the Longhorns' 52-20 rout on Saturday.
Mark Schlabach covers college sports for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.