After losing to Auburn 26-14 in the Iron Bowl, No. 1 Alabama fell to No. 5 in the newest College Football Playoff rankings, and the Crimson Tide will now have some difficulty getting into the Top 4 without the benefit of a conference championship game.
The fierce argument facing Alabama is a potential win by Ohio State over No. 4 Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game. If Ohio State wins that game, will it be enough for the Buckeyes to jump over the Tide for a spot in the Playoffs?
ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit — like the rest of us — has no idea how the committee will evaluate such a situation, but Herbstreit did openly speculate if Nick Saban and Alabama could get the benefit of the doubt by only having one loss in such a scenario.
The only way Alabama could get in over Ohio State, because it’s not going to on paper, is if the committee just said — the coaches in the room looked around and said, “I wouldn’t want to play them. I know they lost to Auburn, but they’re just that good.”
Obviously Alabama would probably need Auburn to beat Georgia again to help them out in this scenario, but this is a good point brought up by Herbstreit. While Ohio State may have the better pure résumé after Saturday, Alabama will still only have one loss compared to Ohio State’s two. Not only that, but Alabama’s loss at Auburn is nowhere near as bad as Ohio State’s 31-point defeat at Iowa a few weeks ago.
It definitely won’t be easy for Alabama to get in at this point, as all of the Top 4 could win on Saturday and seal their spots in the College Football Playoff. That said, if one of those teams does slip up, then the Crimson Tide will be sitting in that No. 5 spot in the rankings waiting to stake their claim to move up into the Top 4.