The College Football Playoff committee’s infatuation with LSU did not end with the Tigers’ 74-72 seven-overtime loss to Texas A&M.
And that affinity with LSU has the Tigers’ first New Year’s Six bowl invitation within their grasp.
With only one ranking to go — the one that counts most — on Sunday, LSU fell only three spots to No. 10 in Tuesday’s CFP rankings after the loss that put them to 9-3 at the end of the regular season.
The LSU Tigers remained within the Top 10 in the College Football Playoff rankings, following their epic 74-72 loss in seven overtimes at Tex…
Yes, LSU got jumped by 9-3 Florida, but the Gators beat the Tigers 27-19 in October. And Florida is the only three-loss team ahead of LSU, which is positioned ahead of a bunch of three-loss teams like Washington, Penn State, Texas, West Virginia and Kentucky, as well as 10-2 Washington State, all jostling for the last one or two NY6 slots.
The brutal schedule that was supposed to keep LSU from being able to achieve something as lofty as a NY6 bowl is exactly what has the Tigers where they are. LSU beat No. 4 Georgia and No. 18 Mississippi State and its three losses are to ranked teams: 1 Alabama, No. 9 Florida and No. 19 A&M.
“Strong résumé,” CFP committee chairman Rob Mullens said of the Tigers. “They had five games against the CFP top 25. Overall that’s a quality body of work.”
Still, LSU’s CFP ranking is somewhat surprising considering where they were in the traditional polls: tied for No. 12 with Washington State in the AP poll and No. 14 in the USA Today coaches’ poll.
But those three-loss teams are either done or playing for bowl slots that will likely not impact LSU. With essentially only the conference championship games remaining, only an upset by No. 21 Northwestern over Ohio State in the Big Ten title game could probably keep the Tigers out of the NY6 at this point.
At No. 10, LSU could stand even trading places with No. 11 Washington if the Huskies beat No. 17 Utah for the Pac-12 championship. Even if LSU falls to No. 11 in Sunday’s rankings, that will probably be good enough for a NY6 bowl that would show important progress for Ed Orgeron’s program in a year where the Tigers were supposed to struggle to reach any kind of bowl.
The question now shifts to which bowl would LSU be in? With Florida there to snare the Sugar Bowl should Georgia upset Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and put them both in the playoffs, a trip to New Orleans appears out for the Tigers. The Rose Bowl is strictly a Big Ten/Pac-12 affair and the CFP semifinals are in the Cotton and Orange, so that leaves the Fiesta and Peach bowls.
Which teams go to those bowls will be decided by the CFP committee. It is looking simply for good matchups, and factoring in geography and things like recent trips to those bowls. No. 8 Central Florida, if it wins its conference title to be the “group of five” representative, went to the Peach last season, so it is thought the Knights may go west to the Fiesta.
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The Peach in Atlanta is obviously a shorter trip for LSU, but the CFP committee may consider sending LSU to a first Fiesta Bowl appearance, a novelty that may get some Tigers fans to travel to Arizona.
Another enticing prospect for LSU: a first game against Michigan. If Ohio State can win the Big Ten but doesn’t vault into the top four, the Buckeyes will go to the Rose Bowl and send the No. 7 Wolverines looking elsewhere.
Whatever happens, it looks like it will be a positive prospect for LSU after the disappointment of the loss to Texas A&M. All it will take is one last love letter to the Tigers from the CFP committee.