The latest College Football Playoff rankings have the Crimson Tide ranked No. 7, within reach of the top four.
No two-loss team has ever made the playoffs before, but it looks like the committee didn’t quite count the tide. Alabama’s two losses don’t compare to anyone else, as both came on the road against LSU and Tennessee, who were not only top-10 teams when they played, but remained top-10 in the most recent rankings. In addition, both matches ended in elimination points.
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In other words, the committee recognizes that it’s not the same as Clemson losing by 21 to unranked Notre Dame or Oregon losing to Georgia by nearly 50 points. Even with the Tide dropping two games, the difficulty of the schedule would be difficult for almost any team in the country.
So what needs to happen for the Tide to sneak into the big dance? Here are a few scenarios that Alabama fans should be rooting for to make a compelling case for the Crimson Tide to make the CFP.
Georgia must beat LSU in the SECCG
Georgia is essentially a playoff lock, even with a loss in the SEC Championship game. An LSU win, however, would likely put both the Tigers and UGA in the playoffs and effectively kill all of the Tide’s chances.
Ohio State takes care of Michigan
This is where it gets a little more complicated. There is a chance that both of these teams will earn a spot in the CFP regardless of the outcome of this game. However, Alabama can still sneak into the No. 4 seed even if they both make it. The best case scenario, however, is that the Buckeyes can handle Michigan by a wide margin. Michigan’s resume would then include just one ranked win over Penn State and arguably the worst non-conference schedule in football, which featured Colorado State (2-9), Hawaii (3-9) and Connecticut (6-6).
TCU loses to KSU in the Big 12 Championship
The only thing that really holds the Horned Frogs in the playoff race is a zero in the loss column. TCU’s resume isn’t very impressive, with its only ranked win coming against Kansas State, a game they trailed 28-17 at halftime before the Wildcats lost quarterback Adrian Martinez to injury. Eight of TCU’s eleven games were decided by 10 points or less and out of a conference that included Colorado (1-10), Tarleton and SMU. However, becoming conference champions could spell trouble for the Tide, so the best-case scenario for the Tide is that TCU gets knocked out in the title game. It’s really hard to beat a team twice, especially when KSU had them on the ropes in the first game.
USC loses Pac-12 Championship to Oregon
If USC loses to Notre Dame this weekend but wins the Pac-12 title, there is a chance the Trojans will be picked over Alabama as the top two-loss team because they would be the conference champions, making it imperative that they lose the title game. A loss in the title game would eliminate USC, but then two-loss Oregon would win the conference. Fortunately for Alabama, I think the Tide is much stronger than the Ducks. Oregon lost to Washington in a close game, but more importantly, they lost by 46 points earlier in the season to UGA.
Clemson loses again
The Tigers currently have one loss to Alabama’s two, yet Alabama remains higher in the playoff rankings. That tells me the committee doesn’t value Clemson at all, and they shouldn’t after the Tigers lost by three scores on the road to then-unranked Notre Dame. Clemson’s marquee wins against Florida State and Louisville, which really don’t move for me. The odds of Clemson going through South Carolina and North Carolina without a loss don’t seem very likely.
Alabama dominates Auburn in Iron Bowl
With the Tide not competing on conference championship weekend, the game against Auburn will be the Tide’s last chance to impress the committee. The circumstances were a little different, Ohio State used a 59-0 rout of Wisconsin to catapult past Baylor and TCU in the playoff rankings in 2015, and a similar blowout could do the same for Alabama. If you sit down every team competing for a playoff spot and ask them who they don’t want, the answer is Alabama. If you put Alabama on a neutral field tomorrow with TCU and USC, is there really a real question who would win? I think not.