LSU’s College Football Playoff hopes vanished on Saturday night thanks to Texas A&M.
The Tigers wrapped up the SEC West a few weeks ago and were ranked No. 5 in the latest CFP rankings despite having two losses. It seemed like LSU had a viable path to the playoff with an upset over No. 1 Georgia in next week’s SEC title game.
A loss to Texas A&M was not part of that path, but that’s just what happened.
Texas A&M had lost six consecutive SEC games but managed to upset the Tigers 38-23 at Kyle Field. Devon Achane rushed for 215 yards and two touchdowns and Moose Muhammad had a tremendous one-handed touchdown grab in the fourth quarter to help the Aggies pull away.
There was also a clutch play by the defense. LSU tied the score at 17-17 in the third quarter and had a chance to go in front after forcing an A&M three-and-out. On the ensuing drive, A&M’s Edgerrin Cooper knocked the ball loose from LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels, resulting in a 27-yard scoop-and-score from Demari Richardson to give the Aggies a 24-17 lead.
Early in the fourth, Muhammad’s epic catch made it 31-17.
A few minutes later, Achane scored from 10 yards out to make A&M’s lead 38-17 with 7:46 to play.
LSU showed some fight down the stretch, but the deficit was just too large to overcome as the Tigers finished out the regular season in majorly disappointing fashion.
LSU vaulted up the rankings with its home win over Alabama back on Nov. 5. A week later, the Tigers clinched the SEC West with a 13-10 road win over Arkansas and then picked up a 41-10 blowout win over UAB.
Were the Tigers caught looking ahead to the SEC title game? It’s fair to wonder. But if that’s what happened, it cost LSU a chance at a national championship.
An SEC title is still on the table. For Year 1 of the Brian Kelly era, that’s a heck of an accomplishment, but that doesn’t take away from the disappointing performance LSU put on the field on Saturday night.
For Texas A&M, it’s a positive way to end what has been a massively under-achieving season. A&M started the season ranked No. 6 in the AP poll and finished with a 5-7 record.