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LSU football coach Ed Orgeron holds the trophy after his Tigers routed Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl semifinal Saturday in Atlanta. LSU won 63-28. / AP photo by John Amis

Why are we even having a College Football Playoff title game?

Shouldn't we just go ahead and send the trophy to the Louisiana State University football offices in Baton Rouge and be done with it? I mean, does anyone really think either 2018 national champion Clemson or second-seeded Ohio State — that second CFP semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl hadn't even kicked off as I typed these words — is going to knock off the Bayou Bengals inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Jan. 13 in New Orleans?

Heck, is anyone sure last season's Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, could knock off this top-seeded LSU team?

No, you don't need to know that LSU won this one 63-28 to realize Oklahoma isn't an elite team. The Sooners didn't even arrive for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at full strength, having suspended a few players before the game began at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium. They were the No. 4 seed going into this national semifinal and the only one of college football's final four with a loss this season. That they were a good deal weaker than the other three programs now seems obvious.

Also, just for argument's sake, the CFP selection committee should be ashamed of itself for dropping Alabama, which won 10 games and had narrow losses to LSU and Auburn, to ninth in its final rankings. After watching the Peach Bowl, does anyone really doubt that Bama, regardless of its record, was at least the No. 4 team in the land?

Yet for the sake of the CFP title game a preposterous 16 days from Saturday's semifinals, let us hope the Sooners really were out of their league. On the other hand, that title game is on a Monday as usual, and thus a work night, so maybe LSU will do the eastern half of the country a favor and build a large enough lead quickly enough to allow a good number of viewers to head to bed at a reasonable hour.

Regardless of what happens, the offensive clinic LSU and recent Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow put on was something to behold.

Or as Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, the former Alabama star, said afterward when asked to compare this LSU team to the ones he never lost to as a member of the Crimson Tide: "Obviously, their offense. They're scoring 50-something points a game."

Not only did Burrow's seven first-half touchdown passes shatter any previous bowl record, but by running for an eighth score early in the second half, he became the first player in Football Bowl Subdivision history to be responsible for eight touchdowns in a bowl game. Those eight scores are also a Southeastern Conference bowl record.

His response to that performance, said without arrogance but with a good deal of confidence: "That's what's expected of us."

No one could expect the heavy hearts the Tigers surely took the field with on Saturday after the horrific news that LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger's daughter-in-law had been killed in a plane crash earlier in the day on her way to the game from Lafayette, Louisiana.

Carley McCord, a 30-year-old sideline reporter and sports talk radio host who covered the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans, the NFL's New Orleans Saints and other sports, was on a private plane when it crashed shortly after takeoff, killing five people in all.

According to ESPN, Ensminger had tears in his eyes when he reached the field before the game, with LSU players soon embracing him.

Said ESPN analyst Sean McDonough as the final seconds ticked off the clock, "This is heartbreaking beyond description, it really is."

For those of who make our living covering sports, McCord's tragic death continued a week that began breaking hearts with the Christmas Eve passing of 34-year-old Edward Aschoff, the gifted ESPN reporter. These bright lives deserved to shine much longer. Much, much longer.

In his first postgame comments, LSU coach Ed Orgeron said Ensminger would get the game ball. Let us hope the Ensminger family also gets some peace, love and understanding from all those around them.

But the world of sports will continue. There will be a CFP title game in New Orleans more than two weeks after its participants were decided. LSU will be there against the Clemson-Ohio State winner. It is worth noting the Bayou Bengals' past three trips to a title game (the Bowl Championship Series matchups for the 2003, '07 and '11 seasons) were also played in the Superdome.

A single word of caution for LSU loyalists: The only one of those teams to arrive at that game with a similar perfect record to these Tigers, the 2011 squad, was shut out 21-0 by Alabama after beating the Tide during the regular season.

That LSU team didn't have Burrow at quarterback, however. This one does. And no matter which team the Tigers play for the title — Clemson or Ohio State, Burrow's program before he transferred in spring 2018 — it's hard to imagine any defense holding down Ensminger's offense.

"We've worked for this for a long time," Burrow said early Saturday evening.

It shows.

some text Mark Wiedmer

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @TFPWeeds.

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