COLLEGE FOOTBALL: LSU’s curious leapfrog of Alabama adds more juice to looming showdown

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Quarterback Joe Burrow (2,805 yards passing, 33 total TDs) and the top-ranked LSU Tigers now boast top-10 victories over Texas, Florida and Auburn.

Could you imagine the national outrage from Sunday, if LSU had leapfrogged an undefeated/untested Ohio State or Clemson for the No. 1 spot in the new Associated Press poll, in lieu of SEC rival Alabama?

On Saturday, previously top-ranked Alabama crushed Arkansas by 41 points … and still got the proverbial boot from the inexplicably fickle voters.

And let’s be honest here: IF the Crimson Tide had been required to handle the Hogs by 70-plus points, despite the notable injury absence of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, they could have come approached that objective, amid minimal resistance.

Instead, victorious Alabama was essentially on Cruise Control mode, in advance of a fortuitously timed bye week (next Saturday).

So, why no afterglow outrage on the Tide’s behalf, even though LSU merely beat Auburn by three points at home?

Two reasons:

a) LSU and Alabama square off at Bryant-Denny Stadium in 12 short days; so anything occurring in the meantime … shall be rendered moot after the second Saturday of November.

b) Whether subconsciously or not, the AP pollsters have added more intrigue (or juice) to the LSU-Alabama clash, by simply creating the surreal narrative of the Crimson Tide being … home underdogs on Nov. 9.

(For those with short memories, Alabama dismantled LSU in Baton Rouge last year, 29-0.)

Will the College Football Playoff committee follow the AP’s lead in its inaugural poll next Tuesday night?

Frankly, LSU might have been better off in the long run lying low and providing zero pregame incentive for Nick Saban and the Alabama players.

But no chance of that now. Game on!

Speaking of the SEC …

Kansas State’s stunning upset of Oklahoma, coupled with Notre Dame’s blowout loss to Michigan, has breathed new life into a topic which had seemingly lost all momentum:

A one-loss, non-champion SEC powerhouse suddenly has a great shot of becoming the fourth seed in the final Playoff rankings.

How would this hypothetical play out?

**An unblemished LSU or Alabama claims the SEC title and remains at No. 1 overall.

**An undefeated Ohio State (No. 3) or Penn State (No. 5) captures the Big Ten crown, while garnering control of the No. 2 Playoff seed.

**Defending national champion Clemson properly disposes of every ACC comer in its remaining wake … and locks down the No. 3 spot.

**The Alabama/LSU loser closes the regular season with just one loss … and earns the No. 4 seed over the Penn State/Ohio State loser, due to strength of schedule and no conference title for either party.

The only complication here: If Oregon and Utah should meet in the Pac-12 title game ranked in the top 8 or higher, and holding just one seasonal loss apiece, the league winner could get one final major boost from a conference championship.

And as you might recall, conference champions were supposed to curry the most favor with committee members, when the College Football Playoff criteria was first established five years ago.

ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25

  1. LSU (8-0)
  2. Alabama (8-0)
  3. Ohio State (8-0)
  4. Clemson (8-0)
  5. Penn State (8-0)
  6. Florida (7-1)
  7. Oregon (7-1)
  8. Georgia (6-1)
  9. Utah (7-1)
  10. Oklahoma (7-1)
  11. Auburn (6-2)
  12. Baylor (7-0)
  13. Minnesota (8-0)
  14. Michigan (6-2)
  15. SMU (8-0)
  16. Notre Dame (5-2)
  17. Cincinnati (6-1)
  18. Wisconsin (6-2)
  19. Iowa (6-2)
  20. Appalachian State (7-0)
  21. Boise State (6-1)
  22. Kansas State (5-2)
  23. Wake Forest (6-1)
  24. Memphis (7-1)
  25. San Diego State (7-1)

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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