ATLANTA — In the years when LSU has not been in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, the game often factors into where the Tigers will go bowling.
In the case of Saturday’s Alabama-Georgia game, that may not be so this time, barring a stunning upset.
Here are some relevant scenarios:
• If Alabama beats Georgia, the Crimson Tide is in the College Football Playoff and Georgia likely will fall to the Sugar Bowl as the highest-ranked available Southeastern Conference team. LSU and Florida will then each likely be in the Peach and Fiesta bowls, LSU’s path probably barred only by Northwestern upsetting Ohio State in the Big 12 championship game.
• If current No. 4 Georgia beats Alabama, the Bulldogs will be in the CFP and perhaps still current No. 1 Bama as well. Florida, No. 9 in Tuesday’s CFP rankings, would then go to the Sugar Bowl, again leaving No. 10 LSU to the Peach or Fiesta barring that Northwestern-over-Ohio State upset.
The Sugar Bowl will get either Oklahoma or Texas, who play in the Big 12 championship game. When not hosting a CFP semifinal, the Sugar gets the Big 12 champion or its championship game runner-up.
There is a slight chance LSU could fall to the Citrus Bowl, although because the Tigers have played there the past two years that is unlikely. LSU could also fall to the SEC’s “group of six” bowls: the Outback, Gator, Texas, Liberty, Belk and Music City, but given LSU’s CFP ranking, that scenario again seems unlikely the Tigers will fall that far.
The CFP semifinal parings will be announced at 11 a.m. Sunday, followed by release of the final CFP top 25 at 1 p.m. and the New Year’s Six bowl pairings (and semifinal kickoff times) at 2 p.m. All of the announcements will be shown on ESPN.
The College Football Playoff committee’s infatuation with LSU did not end with the Tigers’ 74-72 seven-overtime loss to Texas A&M.
Sankey: No schedule change
Commissioner Greg Sankey said Friday he sees no need to change the SEC’s current schedule format from eight conference games plus four nonconference contests. Sankey cited a record eight SEC teams in this week’s CFP rankings.
“There is a unique rigor present in the SEC eight-game conference schedule,” Sankey said. “There's probably no better evidence when you see that eight of the top 25 are SEC teams, and to look at our nonconference success.
“We spend time reviewing our scheduling approach. There's always going to be discussion. There will always be opinions. There will always be information available, and we want to be attentive to those issues and that information. But as I said in July (at SEC Media Days) and I'll say again today, I don't predict a change any time soon.”
On targeting and overtime
Sankey said college football needs to consider whether half-game suspensions for targeting are “appropriate in every circumstance.” LSU players have been ejected for targeting four times in 2018: Jacob Phillips against Southeastern Louisiana and Texas A&M, Devin White against Mississippi State and John Battle against Auburn.
“I completely understand and fully support the basis for player health and safety being at the center of this rule,” Sankey said. “It is a rule that is well intended. It is a rule that has changed behavior. It is a rule that is sometimes difficult to explain and even when officiated properly, which is what frequently occurs, is the center of controversy.”
Sankey also called for talk about overtime rules in the wake of LSU’s 74-72 seven-overtime loss to A&M that tied the FBS record for most overtime periods.
“Do we need to go that long?” Sankey asked. “In a way, we were fortunate that the seven-overtime game came on a week when neither team played (afterward), but playing essentially an additional half of football in an incredibly strenuous environment should cause us to ask questions about are there better ways to administer ties at the end of regulation.”
Estay, Archie Manning honored
Former players from all 14 SEC schools were honored here Friday night at the annual SEC Legends Dinner at the Hyatt Regency. They will be recognized on the field before Saturday’s 3 p.m. kickoff.
LSU defensive tackle Ronnie Estay will be among those honored. A member of the LSU, Louisiana and CFL halls of fame, Estay played at LSU from 1968-71, helping the Tigers to the 1970 SEC championship and earning All-American honors as a senior.
Also being honored this weekend is former Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning. He is receiving the SEC’s Michael L. Slive Distinguished Service Award, named for the late SEC commissioner.