I’m going to start with the rankings and do a bit of LSU-Alabama post mortem afterward.
This is not to join the bandwagon at all, but Clemson is my number 1 for the first time. My list here now completely matches my objective computer list, and this will continue to be the case until my pre-season rankings next August.
Obviously, they were #3 last week before the CFP rankings came out, and my #1 and #2 both lost. So even if there were a subjective element, there was no reason to pass them up. Alabama was a distant second since they lost to Ole Miss, which now has three losses. Also, Memphis, the team to which Ole Miss lost, now has a loss of its own to Navy.
You may have noticed Notre Dame moving up significantly. The Irish beat USC, who went on to knock of undefeated Utah and has not lost again. The Irish are the only team to beat either Temple or Navy. Of course, when you lose to a single highly-rated team, you don’t have much deducted from your total.
The Irish’s three FBS opponents to start the year, Texas, Virginia, and Georgia Tech, aren’t very good, but they do have tough schedules and a couple of good wins among them. Pittsburgh, the team Notre Dame just beat, is 4-1 in the ACC with a non-conference loss to undefeated Iowa, part of the reason the Hawkeyes are in the top four instead of the Buckeyes.
Ohio St. is in perfectly good position to move up by sweeping the state of Michigan of course, so even if my rankings were to decide things, there would be no need to worry.
LSU and Florida are in a similar situation. LSU is in the better division and add to that the fact that the Tigers beat the Gators. Once again, part of LSU’s problem is having an extra bye week due to the thunderstorm in week 1. It’s also worth considering that Florida will be playing South Carolina and Florida Atlantic in the next two weeks while LSU will be playing Arkansas and Ole Miss. If both stay one-loss teams, LSU will move back ahead.
Stanford is just outside the top 10, but they’re not out of the picture for my top four either with Oregon, the Pac-12 title game (potentially), and Notre Dame coming up.
It looks almost certain the G5 representative will be the winner of the American Conference after Toledo’s loss to Northern Illinois.
I mentioned Navy, but North Carolina makes its first appearance. The Tar Heels lost to South Carolina to start the year but have not lost since. BYU and Wisconsin are back in the top 25.
I guess I’ll say a bit about LSU because people will probably ask what went wrong.
1 Clemson 3
2 Alabama 10
3 Iowa 4
4 Notre Dame 6
5 Ohio St. 5
6 Okie St. 13
7 Utah 7
8 Florida 8
9 LSU 1
10 Mich. St. 2
11 Stanford 12
12 Memphis 9
13 N’western 21
14 TCU 11
15 Oklahoma 20
16 Houston 18
17 Baylor 16
18 Navy —
19 Michigan 19
20 Temple 17
21 Miss. St. 25
22 N. Carolina —
23 BYU —
24 Wisconsin —
25 UCLA 24
Out of rankings: (14) Toledo, (15) Ole Miss, (22) TX A&M, (23) Penn St.
Here are the previous rankings blogs:
Apart from the second quarter, when the Tigers were effective in moving the ball in the air, the offensive game plan was almost nonexistent. Maybe they thought they could win with 10 points like the game four years ago (when they actually got 9, 6 in regulation), but you can’t complete only 6 passes and expect to have room to run. I don’t know why there wasn’t a short- and mid-range passing threat on more of those plays or some attempt to mask whether a given play would be a run or a throw.
Alabama was so much better strategically, LSU was lucky to only lose by 14. I don’t accept it’s a Saban/Miles thing. It’s a problem with the current coaching staff, and of course that is partly Miles’ fault, but it’s not something he’s incapable of fixing. We had decent game plans in every other regular-season game against Alabama under Miles. For instance, Miles’ two worst teams in terms of record took Alabama to overtime in 2008 and 2014, respectively. Alabama won the SEC West in 2008 and the SEC in 2014 (before losing to Urban Meyer national championship teams both times), while LSU finished with five losses in each season.
I’ve mentioned this in the rivalry blog, but even though we lost by 21 in the 2013 game, that game was tied with 19 minutes left; and Alabama didn’t go up two scores until 10 minutes left. It was a much better strategy than this game even though the final score was worse. Our defense just tired out sooner than theirs did, and they got the insignificant touchdown at the end instead of us. Also, they were supposed to win. They were undefeated and playing at home, and we had two losses going in.
Maybe that was part of the problem though. Maybe the coaching staff thought since we were the apparently better team so far this season, we didn’t have to be creative. Saban himself even said to win this game you have to do things that aren’t expected, and he mentioned the fourth-and-one reverse in 2010. I don’t remember any crazy plays like that, but Alabama did go for it on fourth down twice on Saturday. Of course, you don’t need to do things like that when you have a lead by two or three possessions.
This was the worst game since Arkansas’s 17-0 win last year (I think you can imagine how pathetic that offensive performance was). Guess who’s next?
LSU has three tough games to get through for this to even matter, but it’s possible that Alabama will lose to either Mississippi St. or Auburn. I think Alabama gave us their full attention in the preparation for this game, so maybe they’ll slack just a little bit in preparing for their trip to Starkville. I certainly think Mississippi St. can play better than Tennessee, and Tennessee gave the Tide all they could handle before Alabama’s bye week. Auburn could play them close, but (1) I don’t think the plains Tigers are quite good enough even if Alabama doesn’t play particularly well and (2) I think Alabama will be very up for that game if they are still undefeated and coming off a demolition of Charleston Southern. So I think if Alabama has only one conference loss after Saturday, the division is pretty much theirs regardless of LSU.