College Football

LSU poised to snag No. 1 spot in first College Football Playoff rankings

Tuesday doesn’t matter. What matters is which four teams top the College Football Playoff rankings six weeks from now.

But that surely won’t stop various fanbases from freaking out when the first CFP rankings of 2019 are released this week. After all, that’s what the early installments of these rankings are for: to get people talking. Beyond that, they don’t matter until Sunday, Dec. 8.

So, for now, let’s talk.

The top four

There are seven undefeated teams in the top 25 of the AP and Coaches polls. Four—all of which are receiving first-place votes in those polls—can make a case to be given the No. 1 spot by the College Football Playoff committee. LSU and Alabama are currently the class of the SEC at 8-0, Ohio State (also 8-0) finds itself in a familiar position atop the Big Ten, and 9-0 Clemson looks poised to once again run away with the ACC.

Who’s No. 1?

LSU is an even-money favorite to be the No. 1 team in the CFP on Tuesday. The committee is supposed to rank teams based on the eye test; in other words, who the members think are the best teams based on the on-field product that they see with their own eyes. What they actually do, at least for the most part, is go with the most deserving teams. LSU is both. The Tigers boast victories over Texas, Florida, and Auburn, with all three opponents ranked in the top 10 at the time. Quarterback Joe Burrow, who has thrown 30 touchdowns and only four interceptions, is a -110 Heisman Trophy favorite.

Where LSU and Alabama (+300 to be No. 1 on Tuesday) land within the top four on Tuesday is truly inconsequential, because those teams will sort themselves out on the field in a head-to-head showdown this Saturday. Check out our free college football picks for this week’s games. The Crimson Tide’s best win so far has come at the expense of then-No. 24 Texas A&M and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is dealing with an ankle injury.

Ohio State (+250 to be No. 1) also features a Heisman candidate in quarterback Justin Fields (+800 behind Burrow, Tagovailoa, and Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts). Fields has led the Buckeyes to defeats of Michigan State and Wisconsin, both by at least 24 points.

Clemson (+300 to be No. 1) remains the national champion until it gets knocked off, but the 2019 campaign has been unspectacular. The ACC stinks and the Tigers did not play anyone notable out of conference other than Texas A&M, so statement opportunities have been few and far between. They also came perilously close to a loss at North Carolina, surviving 21-20 after the Tar Heels went for two following a late touchdown and failed to convert.

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