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Keep the remote control in hand for Saturday's best college games

CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Oregon vs. Louisiana State and Boise State vs. Georgia will be televised simultaneously. Both games have huge implications and could affect the teams' chances of making a run for a national title.

September 02, 2011|Chris Dufresne
  • Oregon running back LaMichael James scores on a long run against Arizona last season in Pac-10 play.
Oregon running back LaMichael James scores on a long run against Arizona… (Steve Dykes / Getty Images )

Did you hear? Saturday's two best games are being televised simultaneously.

We dedicate this article to that ridiculous programming concept.

Oregon and Louisiana State are playing in Arlington, Texas, at 5 p.m. PDT on Channel 7.

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Boise State plays Georgia in Atlanta at 5 p.m. on ESPN.

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Oregon vs. LSU is a game with huge national implications.

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Boise vs. Georgia is a game with huge implications.

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LaMichael James up the middle!

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Kellen Moore back to pass!

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What happens in the same time slot the first week in most sports isn't that important, but it matters in college football. What's at stake in two cities on the same Saturday evening is the most compelling argument against a playoff.

College football is the only sport where, for most teams, the playoff starts at the beginning.

Three of the four schools scheduled for 5 p.m. takeoffs probably can't afford a loss and still get to the national title game — LSU the exception.

Pretty big stakes, huh?

Oregon

Victory means: The Ducks avenge a sliver of last January's last-second championship loss to Auburn by defeating a Southeastern Conference team of similar stature on a national stage. It sends the Ducks out on a title track with a win over the SEC as a bargaining chip.

Defeat means: The Ducks can't win when it counts. They couldn't do it against Boise State and Ohio State two years ago nor last year against Auburn. It puts them in a weakened position even if they end up 11-1. A close loss to LSU keeps hope alive, but certainly not against the SEC in a one-loss Bowl Championship Series bake-off.

LSU

Victory means: The Tigers overcame a barrage of bad bar-fight news and beat a top-five team with Jarrett Lee at quarterback. Lee, replacing suspended Jordan Jefferson, hasn't started a game since 2009 against Louisiana Tech. In 2008, he threw seven interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. Lee, now a senior, did a nice job in relief last year. He pacifies LSU fans who wanted to by-pass Lee for transfer Zach Mettenberger.

"I expect a lot from Jarrett Lee," LSU Coach Les Miles said this week. Right now, he might be the only one.

Defeat means: Not much. Unless it's 45-3, LSU can recover. LSU finishing 12-1 means the Tigers defeated West Virginia in nonconference and won the SEC West, the best division this side of the AFC East. In 2007, LSU became the only two-loss team to win the BCS title.

Boise State

Victory means: The Broncos stay in the title race by spanking an SEC team in its home state. It avenges the 2005 loss at Georgia that has been held against Boise ever since. It raises senior quarterback Kellen Moore's Heisman Trophy stock. It keeps alive the team's inside-straight route through the BCS. Last year, an opening win against Virginia Tech kept Boise State in the race until the Friday night after Thanksgiving.

Boise State received a blow Friday when it announced three players, including starting safety Cedric Febis, are being held out of the Georgia game because of eligibility concerns.

Defeat means: Las Vegas Bowl.

Georgia

Victory means: Georgia has held off a feisty opponent that hot-seat Coach Mark Richt has been comparing to the Green Bay Packers. It means Georgia moves from marginally ranked to near the top 10, setting up a huge game in Athens next week against South Carolina. A win there puts Georgia in national title contention with a very favorable remaining schedule.

Defeat means: Georgia's not on anyone's mind. The dogs start howling. It means a team that finished 6-7 last year starts 0-1 with South Carolina coming to town. The pressure on Richt increases.

Four interesting teams in two terrific games. Yeah, why spread that out?

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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