For awhile on Saturday, it looked like LSU was going hand Alabama the fatal loss much of the country was waiting for.
Those college football fans who have Alabama fatigue saw the Tigers up 20 points, with the ball and facing a fourth-and-1 at the Alabama 45. Instead of going for the jugular and putting the Crimson Tide out of its misery, LSU punted.
What it did was allow a champion to get off the deck. It allowed an injured Tua Tagovailoa to bring Alabama back and make a true game of it. It also gave the perennial national title contender enough life to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive.
Now, in fairness to LSU, it snapped an eight-game losing streak to Alabama and they will probably jump to No. 1 in both the new AP poll and the CFP rankings. Quarterback Joe Burrow likely won the Heisman Trophy with his 31 of 39 for 393 yards and three touchdown effort, and he put the Crimson Tide on notice that it could be heading to the Sugar Bowl instead of the playoffs. But Burrow and the Tigers didn’t put the stake through Dracula’s heart when they had the chance.
With the loss, I dropped Alabama from No. 1 to No. 4. I can see the CFP committee doing the same thing based on the eye test and the fact it has the best loss of any one-loss team. It will have one more chance to beat a quality opponent when it faces Auburn in a few weeks. It would become an even bigger game for the Tide if Auburn beats Georgia next week, because that win would then likely come against a top 10 team rather than one ranked 20th with three losses.
If the season plays out with LSU winning the SEC championship, Ohio State or an undefeated Minnesota winning the Big Ten and an undefeated Clemson winning the ACC, Alabama would likely get the nod for the fourth spot.
The winner of Utah and Oregon will each have a loss in the Pac 12, and if the Ducks are the winner, the Crimson Tide would hold an edge when the committee looks at common opponents — they would have beaten Auburn, while Oregon lost to the Tigers in the season opener.
While this leaves Alabama a small chance to get to the playoffs, I’m beginning to wonder if they want to go. The last two big games its has played — Clemson and LSU — the defense has allowed a combined 90 points and more than 1,000 yards of total offense, which resembles a team more like Oklahoma rather than a team coached by Nick Saban.
With dropping the Crimson Tide from No. 1 to No. 4, that means I have a new team on the top of my ballot, which brings me to my weekly disclaimer: This is my second year of being an AP top 25 voter. I don’t care if Georgia or Georgia Tech win. The same can be said for Alabama, Auburn, Clemson or anyone else for that matter. I grew up in Ohio, but I am not an Ohio State fan. My money went to UAB, when the engine in the Blazer bandwagon threw a rod on Saturday.
Playing without starting quarterback Tyler Johnston III, the UAB offense was non-existent in a 37-2 loss to Southern Miss. With the loss, the defending Conference USA champions fell to 6-3 and will look to get a new engine next week against against UTEP. When I start ranking the Blazers in the top 10, you can start calling me a homer.
1. LSU: When the Tigers go into Tuscaloosa and knock off the Crimson Tide, they deserve to supplant Alabama at No. 1.
2. Clemson: If your schedule isn’t that difficult, but your are the defending national champions, having a 28-0 lead after the first quarter is a reminder that the Tigers are a pretty good football team.
3. Ohio State: It is really hard for quarterback Justin Fields to gain any traction in the Heisman Trophy race. He rarely gets to play in the second half. After throwing for three touchdowns and running for another, the Buckeyes had a 42-0 lead against Maryland at the half and Fields got the rest of the day off.
5. Georgia: The Bulldogs get their shot. If they want to play for a national championship, step one starts with beating Auburn on the road next week.
8. Minnesota: The Golden Gophers are threatening to crash the party. Minnesota claims seven national championships, but the last came in 1960 during the Eisenhower Administration. A win against Iowa next week could push them into the top six.
15. Baylor: The Bears are undefeated, but they sure don’t play like it. Baylor needed three overtimes to beat TCU and its average margin of victory against Power 5 teams is only 8.5 points.
17. Cincinnati: The Bearcats are 8-1 and in position to earn the Group of 5 spot in a New Year’s Six bowl. Their only loss was 42-0 to Ohio State.
22. Indiana: The Hoosiers are a surprising 7-2 and will likely be heading to only its fourth bowl game since 1993.
23. Navy: It only seems fitting to have the Midshipmen ranked on Veterans Day.
3. Ohio State
9. Penn State
13. Notre Dame
20. Boise State
24. Appalachian State