The College Football Playoff pairings will be announced Sunday, but the only suspense is at the top.
Which 13-0 team will the College Football Playoff committee tab as the No. 1 seed between LSU and Ohio State? Those two teams capped unbeaten seasons with victories on conference championship weekend; the top seed will likely draw Big 12 champion Oklahoma (12-1), while the loser draws Clemson, defending national champion and winner of 28 straight. Clemson likely will be No. 3 in the rankings.
That leaves Ohio State and LSU fighting for the top two spots.
Who should be No. 1? Before we begin, a look at just how dominant LSU and Ohio State have been this season:
|School||Points for||Points against||Differential||Top-25 wins*|
* Reflects rankings at time of game
Evidence: The renovation of the offense under passing game coordinator Joe Brady is the story of the season. Joe Burrow, who set SEC single-season records in touchdowns and passing yards, is going to win the Heisman Trophy. The Tigers piled up four top-10 victories during the regular season. LSU prevented Alabama from winning the SEC West with a season-defining 46-41 victory in Tuscaloosa. Ed Orgeron has an offense that looks invincible, the team has been battled-tested against excellent teams this season.
Rebuttal: The Tigers’ defense is closer to Oklahoma’s than it is Ohio State’s or Clemson’s in terms of points allowed. They allowed 28 points or more in five games, including 38 to Vanderbilt and 37 to Ole Miss. Ohio State and Clemson have been more well-rounded on that side of the ball.
Closing argument: LSU plays in the SEC, which remains one of the toughest leagues in college football, top to bottom. LSU also beat the last two conference champions in Alabama and Georgia by scoring an average of 41.5 points in those two games.
MORE: Final bowl projections
Ohio State (13-0)
Evidence: Ryan Day’s first regular season as head coach was perfect. The Buckeyes dominated the Big Ten and beat opponents by an average of 36.2 points per game. Ohio State has the highest-scoring offense among the three teams and the highest point differential. The Buckeyes closed the season with victories against Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin (for the second time).
Rebuttal: Ohio State has been beating up on the Big Ten for the last three years. LSU and Clemson are on the next level, and Michigan and Wisconsin moved the football on that Buckeyes’ defense the last two weeks. Plus, the Buckeyes needed to overcome a 14-0 and 21-7 deficit to beat the Badgers in Indianapolis.
Closing argument: Day has never lost a game. The Buckeyes have three possible Heisman Trophy finalists in Justin Fields, Chase Young and J.K. Dobbins, and they have been the most complete team for most of the season. One half in Indianapolis does not change that.