All for 1: Debating who deserves the top CFP spot

All for 1: Debating who deserves the top CFP spot

No. 3 Clemson presumed to land in that spot because of their light schedule, both No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 LSU have been vying to avoid them.’ data-reactid=”16″>In this year’s edition of the College Football Playoff, it’ll be a different type of drama in the final CFP selection show. As this year’s CFP field began to take shape, the gap between No. 1 and No. 2 has long loomed as one of the most significant rankings of this season. With No. 3 Clemson presumed to land in that spot because of their light schedule, both No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 LSU have been vying to avoid them.

Ohio State stormed back in the second half to win comfortably, 34-21, but looked vulnerable for a half on a day when LSU looked invincible.  ‘ data-reactid=”18″>As No. 1 Ohio State trailed No. 8 Wisconsin 21-7 at halftime on Saturday night, the notion of the Buckeyes getting jumped seemed a real possibility. Ohio State stormed back in the second half to win comfortably, 34-21, but looked vulnerable for a half on a day when LSU looked invincible.  

There’s a strong argument for each side of the No. 1 debate. For Ohio State, they’ve beaten three consecutive top-15 teams by double-digits. For the season, Ohio State will finish with five victories over teams that will finish in the CFP Top 25. (That’s assuming No. 20 Cincinnati hangs around the Top 25 after losing to Memphis in the final moments of the AAC title game.) The Buckeyes also entered the game ranked in the top three in scoring offense and defense.

The argument for LSU comes with more quality victories, but less statistical dominance based on a defense that’s looked mortal at times. The Tigers have four victories over teams that will finish in the top 15 – Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Auburn. (There’s an interesting argument about who has the better non-league win, as LSU’s victory at Texas likely shouldn’t count as much as Ohio State’s home blowout over No. 20 Cincinnati.)

Ohio State wide receiver K.J. Hill (14) celebrates a touchdown during the second half of the Big Ten championship against Wisconsin. (AP)

The argument against LSU being No. 1 comes with their scoring defense ranking No. 31 entering the day and their pass defense ranking No. 56. Some of those passing numbers come from LSU beating teams so badly that opponents need to pass the ball to attempt to come back. But LSU’s defense has been gashed at times, including the Texas pass game (401 yards) and the Ole Miss run game (402 yards).

Clemson reinforced the reality that it’ll be the most feared No. 3 seed in the six-year history of the College Football Playoff. They finished the season 13-0, have a 28-game win streak and blasted No. 23 Virginia 62-17.

This marauding Clemson team’s only deficiency is their lack of quality wins, as the Tigers’ demolition of Virginia may mean that they finish the season with no wins over teams that finish in the Top 25. (They likely knocked the poor Cavaliers out of the rankings.)

But that doesn’t make the Tigers any less menacing than the team that blew out both Notre Dame and Alabama last year in cruising to the national title. The Tigers have an elite quarterback (Trevor Lawrence), a high-end collection of receivers and a versatile scheme on defense that’s compensated for the talent drop-off with the three first-round picks that departed the defensive line.)

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