COLLEGE FOOTBALL FRENZY: LSU secures NCAA’s SEC West crown, KOs Albama

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There was much rejoicing across the NCAA land Saturday, when the LSU Tigers put the final nail in the coffin of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

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It seems Nick Saban’s perennial powerhouse is finally dead and buried from participating in yet another College Football Playoff.

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Resurrection for the No. 9 Tide seems improbable … if not impossible.

That after the No. 7 Tigers won their game 13-10 over the host Arkansas Razorbacks and, with it, the SEC West to ensure their spot in the conference’s title tilt, leaving Alabama no clear path to the final four and, by extension, only a pipe-dream to capture a seventh national crown in 14 years. 

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Indeed, the season appears over for big bad ‘Bama.

“Did not have LSU clinching the SEC West on Nov. 12 in the preseason bingo card,” tweeted heralded college football journalist Stewart Mandel.

Nobody did.

Or if they did, did they really believe it? Especially over Alabama?

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But in his first year as head coach in Baton Rouge, Brian Kelly led LSU to the SEC West banner, and the Bayou Bengals are still in contention for the CFP — albeit a long-shot one because of two losses to their name.

The Tigers are 8-2 after Saturday’s victory in Fayetteville. Same with ’Bama, but its two losses came against conference teams — including last weekend’s pivotal overtime drop to LSU — did them in. Kelly’s crew has just one loss in SEC action.

“We found a way to win — that’s really what this is about,” Kelly told reporters after the victory over Arkansas. “When you play in a league like this, in particular the SEC West, find a way to win. That’s what I’m proud of. I’m proud of our guys having the mental toughness to battle and find a way to win.”

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At the top of the CFP Rankings, No. 1 Georgia No. 1 (10-0) solidified its spot in the SEC finale — where it will play LSU — with a 45-19 slam of host Mississippi State (6-4) … No. 2 Ohio State (10-0) obliterated visiting Indiana (3-7) on a 297-yard, five-touchdown passing day from Heisman Trophy frontrunner C.J. Stroud … After a 34-3 pound of visiting Nebraska (3-7), No. 3 Michigan (10-0) is enjoying the best start to a season since the 2006 campaign … And what about No. 4 TCU (10-0) proving critics wrong with a 17-10 statement win over No. 18 Texas in Austin? That’s huge and keeps the top-four ranked teams perfect through Week 11 … No. 5 Tennessee (9-1), which throttled visiting Missouri (4-6) 66-24, is right there waiting for one of those top-four teams to crack. 

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The upset of the day saw No. 25 Washington (8-2) go on the road and surprise No. 6 Oregon (8-1) in 37-34 fashion, knocking Bo Nix & Co. out of final-four contention … Another upset saw visiting Boston College (3-7) edge No. 16 NC State (7-3) 21-20 … No. 10 Clemson (9-1) kept its CFP chances alive — and won its 39th straight home game — with a 31-16 take-down of visiting Louisville (6-4) … No. 15 North Carolina (9-1) grabbed its place in the ACC title tilt opposite Clemson with a 36-34 close shave over host Wake Forest (6-4) … No. 17 Tulane (8-2) has lost 61 straight games against AP Top 25 opposition after a 38-31 drop to No. 22 UCF (8-2), which got 132 yards passing and 176 yards rushing from QB John Rhys Plumlee … Host Baylor (6-4) got run over by No. 19 Kansas State (7-3) 31-3 with QB Will Howard taking over from injured senior Adrian Martinez … No. 23 Florida State (7-3) continued to improve with a top of Syracuse (6-4), with the hosts oh-so banged up and winless now in four straight.

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LSU got a wow game from freshman linebacker Harold Perkins Jr., who had two forced fumbles, four sacks and eight tackles including a strip-sack late to ensure Saturday’s early victory over Arkansas (5-5). What made the Tigers talent’s day even more impressive was that he played with the flu and vomited ahead of the pre-game team meeting. “Four sacks,” said Kelly of Perkins. “No problem.” … Alabama did win in trying to stay in the CFP race, but it wasn’t easy in a 30-24 escape of No. 11 Ole Miss (8-2). Saban’s usually stout defence gave up 403 yards to the host side, while Alabama netted only 317 in the triumph … The evening state of games saw one other pivotal game featuring a CFP contender — No. 12 UCLA (8-1) pushing to remain a darkhorse final-four contender with a host of Arizona (3-6) … One other late game featuring a ranked team saw No. 13 Utah (7-2) in its Pac-12 title pursuit hosting Stanford (3-6) … Hard not to get up for a Saturday when Pat McAfee comes out of the chute fired up on ESPN College GameDay the way he did after mascot Bevo — the Texas longhorn — made a sudden move of the head and nearly took the eye out of one of his handlers with his extended horn. McAfee, the always jacked-up analyst, got going early with a hilarious off-the-cuff Bevo bit, screaming ‘Bevo’s fired up! Bevo knows it’s a big game!’ It certainly was a big day.

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