In the most recent College Football Playoffs rankings, the Crimson Tide finished 7th, within striking distance of the top 4.
Never before has a team made the playoffs with two losses, but it looks like the committee didn’t fully count the tide. Alabama’s two losses are unlike anyone else as they both came against LSU and Tennessee, which were not only top 10 teams when they played but also remain in the top 10 in the latest rankings. On top of that, both games ended in walk-off results.
In other words, the committee recognizes that this isn’t the same as a 21-point loss by Clemson to an unranked Notre Dame, or a nearly 50-point loss by Oregon to Georgia. Even though The Tide dropped two games, the difficulty of the schedule would be difficult for almost any team in the nation.
So what has to happen for the tide to creep in on the big dance? Here are a few scenarios that Alabama fans should support in order to have a compelling case for bringing the Crimson Tide to the CFP.
Georgia needs to beat LSU in the SECCG
Georgia is essentially a playoff suspension, even with a loss in the SEC championship game. However, an LSU win would likely put both the Tigers and UGA in the playoffs, effectively wiping out any tide chances.
The state of Ohio takes care of Michigan
This is where it gets a bit tricky. There is a chance that both teams will get a place in the CFP regardless of the outcome of this game. However, Alabama could still sneak into the No. 4 seed even if they both make it. The best-case scenario, however, is that the Buckeyes handle Michigan by a wide margin. Michigan’s resume would then only include a league win over Penn State and arguably the worst non-conference schedule in football, which included Colorado State (2-9), Hawaii (3-9) and Connecticut (6-6).
TCU loses to KSU in the Big 12 championship
The only thing really keeping the Horned Frogs in the playoff race is a zero in the loss column. TCU’s resume isn’t particularly impressive, as the only league win was Kansas State, a game in which they were down 28-17 at halftime before the Wildcats lost their quarterback Adrian Martinez to injury. Eight of TCU’s eleven games were decided by 10 points or fewer and an out of conference involving Colorado (1-10), Tarleton and SMU. However, becoming the conference champion could pose problems for the Tide, so the best scenario for the Tide is for TCU to make a mistake in the title game. It’s really hard to beat a team twice, especially when KSU had them on the ropes in the first duel.
USC loses Pac-12 championship to Oregon
If USC loses to Notre Dame this weekend but wins the Pac-12 title, there’s a chance the Trojans will be picked as the best two-loss team against Alabama as they would be conference champions, so it’s imperative that they lose the title game. A loss in the title game eliminates USC, but then Oregon would be the conference champion with two losses. Lucky for Alabama, I think the Tide is making a much stronger fall against the Ducks. Oregon lost to Washington in a tight game, but more importantly, they lost to UGA by 46 points early in the season.
Clemson loses again
As of today, the Tigers have one loss to Alabama’s two, yet Alabama remains higher in the playoff rankings. That tells me the committee doesn’t rate Clemson very highly at all, and they shouldn’t after the Tigers lost by three points en route to a then-unranked Notre Dame team. Clemson’s marquee wins come against Florida State and Louisville, which really don’t move the meter for me. The chances of Clemson going through South Carolina and North Carolina undefeated don’t seem very likely.
Alabama dominates Auburn in the Iron Bowl
With the Tide not participating in the conference championship weekend, the fight against Auburn will be the Tide’s last chance to impress the committee. Granted, circumstances were slightly different, Ohio State used a 59-0 win against Wisconsin to overtake Baylor and TCU in the playoff rankings in 2015, and a similar blowout could do the same for Alabama. If you sit down with every team fighting 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 of who would win? I do not think so.