COMMENTARY: LSU title run could set records

Should No. 1 LSU win out through the BCS national championship game on Jan. 7 in New Orleans, the Tigers will go down as the longest No. 1 ranked national champion in Southeastern Conference history.

It would be the closest thing to a wire-to-wire champion that the league will have ever had. Should the Tigers win out to finish 14-0 and thus retain their Associated Press No. 1 ranking as of Sept. 30, it will be the longest consecutive-weeks run at No. 1 of the 16 recognized national champions from the SEC. LSU went to No. 1 in the USA Today, Coaches, and Harris polls on Oct. 7 after beating No. 9 Florida 28-24 on Oct. 6.


There has never been an SEC team No. 1 without interruption in the months of September, October, November, December and January. LSU (6-0) is "just" eight wins away from history.


No, Alabama was never No. 1 that long through a national championship claim. The longest run at No. 1 by a Crimson Tide national championship team was in 1979. Bear Bryant's team went to No. 1 following a 40-0 win at Florida on Oct. 13 and won its next six regular season games, including a 3-0 win at LSU, to finish 11-0. But it fell to No. 2 in the final regular season poll before going into the Sugar Bowl against No. 6 Arkansas. Alabama won 24-9 and captured the AP and United Press International (Coaches) national championship.


The 1978 Alabama team went into the season at No. 1 and beat No. 10 Nebraska and No. 11 Missouri only to fall to No. 7 USC. The Tide got as high as No. 2 before beating No. 1 Penn State 14-7 in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1979, for the AP national championship.

Alabama's 1973 UPI national championship team did not get to No. 1 until it beat No. 7 LSU when the Tide was No. 2 by a 21-7 score on Nov. 22, 1973. No. 1 Alabama beat Auburn 35-0 in its next game before falling 24-23 to No. 3 Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. The UPI Coaches poll retained Bama No. 1. 


Most of the SEC national champions did not get to No. 1 for good until late in the season or until winning the bowl game to claim the national championship.  No. 1. Florida, for example, was not No. 1 through all of last season until beating Ohio State in the BCS national championship game.


LSU was not No. 1 in a poll in the 2003 season until winning the BCS national championship over BCS No. 1 Oklahoma on Jan. 4, 2004. Alabama was not No. 1 in the 1992 season until it beat No. 1 Miami in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1993.


In 1998, Tennessee became No. 1 after beating UAB 37-13 on Nov. 7 and stayed there for the rest of the season, wrapping up its BCS national championship with a 23-16 win over Florida State.


In 1996, Florida went to No. 1 after beating No. 2 Tennessee 35-29 on Sept. 21, but the No. 1 Gators lost 24-21 to No. 2 Florida State on Nov. 30 and fell to No. 3. Then the No. 3 Gators beat the No. 1 Seminoles 42-20 in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship.


In 1980, Georgia became No. 1 following the 92-yard, "Run, Lindsay, Run" touchdown by wide receiver Lindsay Scott to beat Florida 26-21 on Nov. 10 and remained through its 17-10 win over Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship.

Alabama won national championships in 1961, 1964 and 1965 without getting to No. 1 until late or at the end of the season.


Ole Miss was ranked No. 1 following a 42-0 win over Houston on Sept. 17, 1960, and stayed at No. 1 or No. 2 through late October, but a 6-6 tie at unranked LSU on Oct. 29 dropped the Rebels to No. 6. They won their next three and rose to No. 2 before beating Rice 14-6 in the Sugar Bowl and were awarded the Football Writers Association of America national championship.


Auburn won the Associated Press national championship in 1957 after not getting to No. 1 until the last week of the regular season. It was on probation and not eligible for a bowl. Tennessee opened the 1951 season at No. 1 but dropped to No. 3 and No. 2 at various times during the season without losing before staying at No. 1 beginning in late November.


The current longest No. 1 run by a national champion was by guess who? It was in 1958 by LSU, which moved into the No. 1 position following a 10-7 win over Florida on Oct 25 and stayed there through its 7-0 win over No. 12 Clemson in the Sugar Bowl.


LSU opened the 1959 season at No. 1 and stayed there until a 14-13 loss at Tennessee on Nov. 7, 1959. It was never No. 1 again in the regular season until Sept. 30, 2007.

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