Rabalais: LSU could face ‘No. 1’ earlier than expected

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU wide receiver Terrence Magee (14) runs for a first down and more on a long run as Kent State's Jordan Italiano (23) finally forces him out of bounds during the second half Saturday in Tiger Stadium. LSU won 45-13. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU wide receiver Terrence Magee (14) runs for a first down and more on a long run as Kent State's Jordan Italiano (23) finally forces him out of bounds during the second half Saturday in Tiger Stadium. LSU won 45-13.

Notes on a soggy flip card rescued from a puddle at Sunday’s New Orleans-Tampa Bay game …

  • You thought the LSU Tigers would probably have to wait until their Nov. 9 game at Alabama to have a showdown with the nation’s No. 1 team.

Not so, according to one of the computer rankings used in the BCS formula.

Just in case you were getting a little weepy and sentimental over the BCS being tossed out in favor of next season’s inaugural College Football Playoff, the ranking known as the Colley Matrix ranks 3-0 Auburn as the nation’s No. 1 team. LSU, also 3-0, is No. 14.

Colley is the only computer ranking currently showing Auburn so much love. Of three other BCS computer rankings currently computing (two don’t flip the switch until midseason), none has Auburn ranked higher than No. 24. Conversely, LSU is No. 6 according to Massey, No. 7 according to Billingsley and No. 8 with Jeff Sagarin.

Certainly computer rankings this time of year can be written off as laughable, considering the small number of games to work with, but it is comforting (at least for now) to know the College Football Playoff will rely on a selection committee of humans to set the four CFP semifinalists.

No way that will be controversial — ha!

In the only human polls that should really count this early in the season — the betting lines out of Las Vegas — LSU is a 17½-point favorite over Auburn. That means if Auburn beats LSU it will be a HUGE upset by Colley’s No. 1 team.

That just does not compute.

  • A website called AdvancedNFLStats.com has a cool feature that computes each team’s probability of victory during the course of a game.

According to the website, the New Orleans Saints had a 26 percent chance of victory after Rian Lindell’s 47-yard field goal try with a little over a minute remaining sailed wide left, keeping the Saints still down just 14-13 to Tampa Bay.

I frankly didn’t think the Saints’ chances were that good, starting from their 37 with 66 seconds left and no time outs. And the Saints’ chances actually dropped to 11 percent after Drew Brees completed an 8-yard pass to Darrin Sproles to the Buccaneers’ 40.

One play later, Brees hit Marques Colston with that 31-yard strike to set up Garrett Hartley’s winning 27-yard field goal. That pass apparently upped the Saints’ chances of winning to 94 percent.

In other words, having Brees helps even your odds.

  • Apparently Bret Bielema’s departure from Wisconsin for Arkansas apparently wasn’t an amicable one, at least if his wife Jen’s Twitter account is a good reference.

Shortly after Wisconsin’s 32-30 loss at Arizona State (quick synoposis: no time outs, quarterback runs ball, places ball on ground, defender falls on it, refs freeze, clock runs out, lots of cheesed-off Badgers), Jen Bielema tweeted — #karma — as if to indicate Wisconsin got what it deserved.

For the Razorbacks’ sake, Jen better hope karma has a sense of humor.

  • Former LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini has had better weeks.

The Nebraska coach saw his Cornhuskers blow a big early lead to UCLA and get drummed 41-21 at home by UCLA, drawing a scathing critique from Nebraska great Tommie Frazier. Pelini said his team doesn’t need Frazier’s support, which would be like Les Miles telling Billy Cannon to jump in the Mississippi.

Monday, in a move clearly designed to embarrass Pelini, someone leaked a two-year-old tape of him making a profanity-laced tirade directed toward Nebraska fans.

Pelini apologized and apparently thought the rant, which preceded his appearance on a postgame radio show, wasn’t being recorded. But he’s still in big trouble for biting the caustic, cranky hand of fans who feed him and his program.

Look, most coaches have probably gone off on fans privately. The problem for Bo is it’s hard to imagine proper and dignified former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne going ballistic like that, even if he did.

Pelini, who has never won fewer than nine games in five previous seasons at Nebraska but has lost four games each year, probably suffers by that comparison every day. His own words don’t help.