Don't Put Two-Loss Alabama in the Playoff
Did those spicy one-score wins over Florida and LSU not sell you enough?
Hi all, next week there will be no Thursday post because, well, it’s Thanksgiving and I am not an animal. I will have a regular Big Ten women’s basketball post for Monday and a bonus Top 25 post up on Tuesday, then I will see you back here the following Monday.
The College Football Playoff rankings came and went once again, and though nothing changed at the top, of course there was controversy. The major talking point was the continued placement of Michigan above Michigan State despite the Spartans beating the Wolverines less than three weeks ago and despite Oregon staying above Ohio State in a very similar circumstance thanks to head-to-head.
That’s all stupid, but I also think that getting too mad about it when it’s going to sort itself out the next two weeks anyway with Ohio State playing both Michigan State and Michigan. Simply beat the Buckeyes and you will be in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot.
What I did not love hearing was any sort of debate that a two-loss Alabama could, or should, get into the playoff if that loss is a close one to Georgia. Now look, I’m not naive, I knew this was coming as soon as the Crimson Tide were ranked second in the first CFP rankings of the season despite having, you know, a loss or whatever.
For starters, let me say that I do think Alabama is a very good team. Bryce Young is immensely talented, Jameson Williams is one of the best receivers in the country and the defense has mostly been excellent.
As much as the committee would like you to forget, Alabama indeed played a game on Oct. 9 against Texas A&M and lost 41-38, allowing 285 yards and three touchdowns to quarterback Zach Calzada. In Calzada’s nine other games, he is averaging 167.6 passing yards per game and has just nine touchdowns to eight interceptions.
The Aggies also just had their third loss of the year last weekend, if you are a big “good loss” guy in a résumé.
This was a terrible defensive showing, and it happened only about a month and a half ago. But sure, one game, Oregon also lost to Stanford so one game shouldn’t seal it. How about a 31-29 win over a Florida team that sits at 5-5 and just had to fight for its life against an FCS opponent with a sub-.500 record?
How about two weeks ago, where Alabama scored just 20 points in a six-point win over a 4-6 LSU team that was using the corpse of Ed Orgeron as a head coach? Ah yes, only Cincinnati has to do the style points thing, I forgot.
Alabama’s best win was over Ole Miss, and that was a clinical performance that showed what this team is capable of. But that’s really it for Bama, because for christ sakes Mississippi State is not a good win I don’t care how many times the committee sneaks them into the rankings.
The Crimson Tide are flawed this year: the rushing attack has been mediocre at best and that has stalled out the offense in critical moments. They are still a great team, a top-five team until proven otherwise, but good enough to survive a potential second loss? No, not even close unless the end of the season has some real chaos.
Since the scenario is a close loss to Georgia, let’s ride with that (I think the Bulldogs win handedly, but Georgia has choked before so who knows). That would keep Georgia at No. 1. Let’s assume Ohio State and Cincinnati win out, which I think are most likely, though I wouldn’t count out Michigan or Michigan State. That puts the scenario at:
1.) Georgia (13-0)
2.) Ohio State (12-1)
3.) Cincinnati (13-0) – (No, I will not even begin to discuss Alabama being over an undefeated Cincy team with wins over Notre Dame, SMU and Houston, and with two less losses. If you think that is a debate, and the committee probably will because they suck, maybe you shouldn’t get these emails anymore.)
For Alabama to be the fourth team, I think that each of these teams — plus Michigan and Michigan State, who lose to Ohio State here — would have to lose again to make it reasonable:
My personal opinion would also include UTSA, but we all know that the Roadrunners will never make it, which sucks.
Each of these teams are Power Five (or Notre Dame) programs with one loss. If any of the four not named the Irish win out, they are a Power Five conference champion. That absolutely should put a team in the top four over a two-loss team without a conference title with like one good win.
Notre Dame has a handful of good, not great wins and a better loss (Cincy). Oregon has the best win of any top team so far, Wake Forest would have wins over Clemson, NC State and, likely, Pitt to win the ACC. The Oklahoma teams play each other to end the regular season and might meet again (or the winner plays Baylor) in the Big 12 title game. That should boost the résumés of either team above the Tide.
Alabama simply has not done enough this year to prove worthy of the playoff if it is 11-2 team without an SEC title at the end of the season. It absolutely should be a win-out-or-miss scenario unless pure chaos happens elsewhere. It should, but the committee is stupid and bad, so I’m preparing for it to happen anyway.
(I’m also not counting out Alabama losing to Arkansas or Auburn, I’m not saying I’m just saying.)
Let’s talk about my full rankings as they stand:
1.) Georgia (-)
2.) Cincinnati (-)
3.) Oregon (+1)
4.) Ohio State (+1)
5.) Alabama (+1)
6.) Michigan State (+1)
7.) Michigan (+1)
8.) Notre Dame (+1)
9.) Oklahoma State (+2)
10.) UTSA (-)
11.) Wake Forest (+1)
12.) Baylor (+7)
13.) Oklahoma (-10)
14.) Ole Miss (+2)
15.) Houston (-1)
16.) Louisiana (+1)
17.) BYU (+1)
18.) San Diego State (+4)
19.) Texas A&M (-6)
20.) Appalachian State (+1)
21.) Pittsburgh (+4)
22.) Wisconsin (NEW)
23.) SMU (NEW)
24.) Coastal Carolina (-9)
25.) Utah State (NEW)
Same top seven teams as the committee, but in different order. All seven are in the same boat though, at least in my eyes: win out, and you (almost certainly) get in.
Notre Dame has been playing excellent football as of late and wow would you look at that, who did the Irish lose to again this season?
Oklahoma State has been impressive this season, which will make the yearly loss to Oklahoma hurt that much more.
Baylor has finished off an Oklahoma team that was begging to lose. The Sooners can now be more properly ranked with what they are: a good, not great team.
Houston finally got ranked by the CFP which is huge news for Cincinnati assuming both teams win out. SMU will be a tough one this weekend for the Bearcats though.
Wisconsin has been mauling teams recently and somehow has come back from that disastrous start with six straight wins. Curious what the Badgers will look like against the Big Ten East champ in a couple of weeks.
Coastal Carolina has died without Grayson McCall. It will be back next year as long as he and head coach Jamey Chadwell are.
How about Utah State? From 1-5 in 2020 to 8-2 in Blake Anderson’s first year as head coach. There are many Coach of the Year candidates, but Anderson should at least get nominated for it.
If you are interested in me talking about random topics like this, or on my more focused posts with Big Ten women’s basketball, you can subscribe with the button above or share with the button below.