LSU 42, Clemson 25

LSU knocks off Clemson 42-25, completes one of the most historic seasons in college football history

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The LSU Tigers are national champions. And their season is one that might not be topped for a long time.

The Bayou Bengals knocked off the defending champion Clemson Tigers 42-25 on Monday night, and the celebration in Louisiana is likely to last a while.

While LSU fans revel, they should also recognize what might have been the greatest single-season run in college football history.

While any list is subjective, many consider what the 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers did to be one of the most impressive single seasons in college football history before this year. That team finished No. 1, and beat Oklahoma, Colorado and Alabama, the teams that finished 2-3-4.

Realistically, however, the modern era (post 2000), the teams that are most impressive start with 2004 USC. The 13-0 Trojans featured Heisman winner Matt Leinart, and destroyed Adrian Peterson and Oklahoma in the championship game 55-19. That group would lose the next season to another team worth considering, the 2005 Vince Young-led Texas Longhorns. The Horns averaged 50.2 points per game that season. Of course, the 2001 Miami Hurricanes had perhaps the greatest collection of talent on one team, with stars like Andre Johnson, Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis, Frank Gore, Vince Wilfork, Ed Reed...They were simply loaded.

But this LSU team takes a back seat to no one. Of the Tigers 15 wins, SEVEN were against teams ranked in the Top 10 when they played - Texas, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma and Clemson. Four of those teams were in the top 5 at the time they played. They faced 11 teams that played in a bowl or the playoff.

Heading into the championship game, the Tigers averaged 48.9 points per game, most in the nation. Quarterback Joe Burrow had a historic season, throwing for over 5,000 yards, completing nearly 80 percent of his passes and winning the Heisman Trophy. He set an NCAA single season record for touchdown passes.

LSU had two 1,000-yard receivers (Ja'Mar Chase and Justin Jefferson) and a 1,000-yard rusher (Clyde Edwards-Helaire) to go with their 5,000-yard passer. They scored 726 points, most in FBS history. They have four projected first-round picks in the NFL Draft this year alone and several others over the next two years. With all that, they deserve to be in the talk for best single season team ever.

When it counted most, they finished it by beating a near dynasty - a team that had not lost in 29 games - for a national championship.

With a season for the ages.

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These next six games will be very telling. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

Houston has six games left in the 2022 regular season, two three-game series in which they need just one more win, or a Yankees loss, to secure the top seed for the AL side of the postseason bracket. They've accomplished what they set out to do over the 162-game drudge that is the regular season, so you're likely to see them use the opportunity to get some players off their feet in the remaining games.

Even so, having one of the best teams means that while putting out a lineup with some starters missing, they can still beat most teams on any given day. So then, what could that mean for the teams still vying for postseason spots or positioning in the remaining games?

Affecting the NL playoffs

It's a relatively sure bet that if they haven't locked up that top seed by the time they enter the final three games, they will before that last series is over. That means that when the Phillies come to Minute Maid Park to close out the season next week, Philadelphia will have much higher stakes in those games than Houston.

Under the expanded playoff format starting this season, the two best teams in each league receive a bye, while the remaining four teams square off in a Wild Card series, with all those games taking place at the better seed's stadium. That means teams will be very motivated to secure their best Wild Card positioning.

As of now, the Phillies hold just a half-game lead over the Brewers for the third and final Wild Card spot for the National League. Things could change this weekend, but whether they still lead or have fallen back and have ground to makeup, the games will matter to them against the Astros.

They also sit 2.5 games behind the Padres, meaning that Philadelphia could potentially be looking at a chance to jump into the second Wild Card spot. However, it's questionable if that's an envious position or not. With the juggernaut battle between the Mets and Braves coming down to the wire, with one team winning the NL East and a first-round bye and the other starting with home-field advantage in a Wild Card series, whoever gets the second Wild Card spot is going to be heading to face a really tough, and potentially angry, team on the road.

It will make things interesting for the Phillies when they face the Astros. They could be playing for their playoff lives or jockeying for position. Either way, the games will be meaningful.

Affecting the AL playoffs

There's a similar scenario at play for the American League side of things with the Astros' three-game series against the Rays this weekend. Just like the Phillies, the Rays enter the weekend holding on to the third and final spot in the AL Wild Card race.

Tampa Bay is only 0.5 games back of the Mariners for the second spot and two games back of the Blue Jays for the first Wild Card spot. Farther behind, the Orioles still have a chance for something crazy to happen, sitting five games behind.

So based on the result of their series with the Astros and how the other teams fare this weekend and in the final stretch of games, the Rays have a range of outcomes that could cause havoc in the AL bracket. They could end up taking the top Wild Card spot and hosting a series, traveling to face the Blue Jays, Mariners, or Guardians, or, less likely, missing the playoffs altogether.

This variance in positioning could have ramifications for the Astros directly in the ALDS round as well. The Astros are likely to be favored regardless of the three potential teams they face; however, some matchups would make things easier.

Houston went 2-4 against the Blue Jays this year and are currently up 3-0 on the Rays with the three games remaining in the season series. And while the Astros took the season series 12-7 against division-rival Seattle, that could give the Mariners all the more reason to be ultra-motivated for the ALDS if they faced the Astros.

So, while the Astros may not have any direct milestones to play for other than locking up their top seed, these remaining six games will have plenty of storylines and drama to follow for them and their opponent.

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