The College Football Playoff committee got it right in their first rankings released Tuesday night.
The committee voted LSU third, behind Alabama and Clemson, and ahead of Notre Dame. The committee ranked a pair of one loss Tigers ahead of the Irish, who checked in with a strength of schedule ranked #56 at realtimerpi.com.
Clemson’s schedule was 10th, and LSU’s was 11th.
Committee chair Rob Mullens, director of athletics at Oregon, said the committee was “impressed” with the Tigers.
“They have six wins against teams over .500 and quality wins over Georgia and Mississippi State.”
“Just the close loss to Florida. Overall, their body of work is strong.”
That 7-1 LSU is third in the first rankings is a major accomplishment for the football program. Remember, at the start of the season, a doomsday scenario was predicted by many. LSU’s win total in Vegas, for the entire 2018 season, was at 7. Ed Orgeron’s alleged hot seat was thought to be scalding.
In Tuscaloosa Monday, as he always does, Alabama coach Nick Saban threw bouquets to the Tigers. But, this time it Saban’s praise had a different tone.
Saban noted how profoundly different the LSU offense, is.
“I don’t think LSU is like any LSU team we have played in recent years,” said Saban.
“In terms of what they do on offense. They are going fastball, playing with tempo. A lot more open formations than they have been in the past,” said Saban.
“They are not in the eye formation trying to run the ball against people.”
Ed Orgeron’s changes in coaching staff and in personnel have paid off. Coordinator Steve Ensminger’s offense is 11th in the SEC, but 6th in scoring.
The Tigers are first in turnover margin.
The promotion of Ensminger, the hiring of Jerry Sullivan to coordinate the passing game, the hiring of Greg McMahon to coordinate special teams have all paid off.
And, so has three big offseason acquisitions.
Quarterback Joe Burrow, and kickers Cole Tracy and Avery Atkins have been critical to LSU’s success.
So, against a daunting schedule, LSU stands third in the CFP rankings. It is a ranking well deserved.