College Football Playoff Top 4 Should Be Easy Picking, But There Is Bama Fear

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The College Football Playoff final four should be a no brainer Sunday afternoon (Noon, ESPN).

No. 1 Georgia (13-0) and No. 2 Michigan (13-0) won going away over LSU and Purdue on Saturday night. No. 3 TCU (12-1) lost about as well as one could lose – by 31-28 in overtime to a top 10 team in No. 10 Kansas State.

No. 4 USC is 11-2 and without as highly ranked a schedule as the above three and No. 5 Ohio State (11-1). And the Trojans lost handily to No. 11 Utah, 47-24, on Friday night.

So it’s easy. No chaos. Georgia, Michigan, TCU and Ohio State.

Except the No. 6 team is Alabama (10-2). If anyone else was No. 6 in the nation with two losses, there would likely be no discussion. But it’s Alabama. The Crimson Tide cannot get out of our minds.


They are like a poltergeist that won’t leave. It is always there knocking. Who else but Alabama would become the first two-loss team ever to reach the four-team College Football Playoff?

Alabama is the brand name of college football with six national championships under coach Nick Saban since the 2009 season, but it has had an off season this year. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Alabama is the only two-loss team in the top six, and both of its losses have grown worse since the date they happened. Since No. 7 Tennessee (10-2) beat Alabama, 52-49, on Oct. 15, the Vols were destroyed by an unranked South Carolina by 63-38 on Nov. 19. South Carolina is an average 8-4 and ranked No. 19. Since No. 14 LSU (9-4) beat Alabama, 32-31, in overtime on Nov. 5, it lost to a bad Texas A&M (5-7) by a lot – 38-23. The Aggies finished 2-6 in the SEC in a tie for dead last overall.

Alabama’s Best Wins And 2 Losses Not Impressive

A team’s best wins are weighed heavily by the College Football Playoff selection committee, but so are the losses. Alabama’s losses were impressive. Both were on the road and happened on the last play of the game, but the teams they lost to have proven to be not as good lately as they were previously. That’s important.

Alabama’s best wins, according to the current CFP rankings, are over No. 20 Texas (8-4) and No. 24 Mississippi State (8-4) by 20-19 on the road and 30-6, respectively. Not very impressive. There are eight losses between those two teams. And, remember, what a team is ranked now is more significant than what a team was ranked when the team being judged played that team. If a team was ranked much higher earlier in the season than late, all that means is the previous ranking was inaccurate.

The eye test on Alabama is also not very impressive. The Tide played sloppy throughout the season as it was the most penalized team in the SEC. Alabama could’ve easily lost to both Texas and Texas A&M. The Tide got away with pass interference in the end zone against the Aggies on the last play of the game for a 24-20 win.

Alabama Fails The Eye Test

“I’m not sure what you mean by the eye test,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said at halftime of the Michigan-Purdue Big Ten title game on FOX Saturday night. Figures, because his team fails the eye test. It has not looked like a champion throughout the season. Saban knows that, but he’s not going to say it.

In fact, if this Alabama team gets in, that is an insult to the seven Alabama teams that did get into the CFP in the eight years since it started in 2014, because those teams deserved it. Only in 2019 did Alabama not make the field – also at 10-2.

Saban tried used the “best team” argument on his FOX appearance. What he was really using was the best brand argument, and Alabama will always win that. Which is why everyone who does not want Alabama to get in the playoffs were tossin’ and turnin’ Saturday night in bed with a nightmare.

That’s Bama Fear. Alabama’s brand is so strong that it often gets credit and praise when it does nothing. But the CFP rankings are not about brands.

“I think the whole goal is to get the best teams in,” Saban said and then pointed out that Alabama would be favored over some of the teams in the current top four, such as TCU and USC, and No. 5 Ohio State.

This is true. But betting lines tend to look at history and old trends. The CFP rankings are supposed to have nothing to do with history. or historical brands. It is this season, and this season alone. And Alabama has not had as good a season this season as Georgia, Michigan, TCU and Ohio State amid very similar strength of schedule metrics.

Ohio State’s best wins this season are better than Alabama’s best wins. The Buckeyes have two wins over teams currently in the CFP rankings – No. 21 Notre Dame by 21-10 on Sept. 3 and No. 8 Penn State by 44-31 on Oct. 29. Notre Dame is 8-4 like the aforementioned Bama victims Texas and Mississippi State, but Penn State is 10-2.

Ohio State’s only loss – 45-23 to Michigan last week – looked much worse than each of Alabama’s close losses to Tennessee and LSU. But Michigan is 13-0 and No. 2 in the nation after blowing out Purdue, 43-22, in the Big Ten title game Saturday night – like a champion. The loss to Michigan by Ohio State is clearly better than Alabama’s losses to Tennessee and LSU, judging by recent games.

And Alabama clearly should not make the final four Sunday. Ohio State should jump from No. 5 to No. 4. If not, the selection committee will be admitting it was wrong last week when it ranked Ohio State above Alabama in the first place. Neither Ohio State nor Alabama played this week, so it would be illogical for Alabama to leapfrog Ohio State to No. 5.

But it is Alabama.

And I fear it may happen.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

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