They say that luck is a lady.
I say, rather, that luck is a Loki.
For the fourth time in the Saban era, chaos unfolded in the waning weeks of the season in a peculiar set of ways that inure to the benefit of the Crimson Tide. It was a chalk-heavy Championship week, for starters, with ‘Bama needing two (and in particular two) favorites to lose rematches of games they had previously prevailed in and/or ought to have done so.
Then the practically impossible happened: USC was defenestrated in Las Vegas, and TCU’s luck ran out — your P12 and B12 champions have six combined losses. The two most marginal playoff contenders were duly dispatched and left to explain away their absolutely pitiful OOC records.
Ohio State is fairly confident they now slide in. I would tend to agree. But I’m here to tell you why Alabama not only has more than a colorable argument to be included — it will likely do so, and be vaulted into the No. 3 overall spot.
HOW TO WATCH:
The final CFP announcement and Top 25 rolls out at 12:00 EST / 11:00 CST. It will air on ESPN’s flagship channel, and is available for streaming online and on the ESPN app.
THE CASE FOR ALABAMA
Making the case for Alabama is not indefensible; in fact, objectively, its quite easy. I brought receipts, bitches:
CFP Contenders H2H
|TEAM||OFF. RANKING||DEF. RANKING||OVERALL||SOS|
|TEAM||OFF. RANKING||DEF. RANKING||OVERALL||SOS|
- The Crimson Tide are the only CFP contender to face a Top 10 schedule.
- They faced five then-ranked teams on the road, four of whom were in the Top 10, going 3-2
- They were undefeated the entire season save a 2PAT in overtime and a FG on the last second of the game — Alabama is four seconds away from being undefeated. More impressively, the Crimson Tide did so with its star quarterback hurt for half the season, with a significant injury to his throwing shoulder.
- The Crimson Tide join Georgia and Michigan as the only teams in the Top 10 of offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency. They are ranked 3rd overall in opponent-adjusted metrics for a reason.
- The only four teams in the Top 20 in offensive, defensive, special teams, and overall efficiency are: Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, and Alabama.
- The 5th overall team? It’s not even Tennessee — assuming the Vols were healthy, which they are not — is actually Kansas State, not UT.
- Every 1- or 2-loss contender outside of Alabama has either a terrible schedule (TCU, Clemson, USC, OSU) or has a double digit loss (Tennessee, OSU) — and the Buckeyes dropped theirs at home, no less.
- And, every 1- or 2-loss contender outside of Alabama has a serious deficiency on one entire side of the ball: Defense for the Trojans, Vols, and Horned Frogs. Offense for the Tigers.
VEGAS IS PRETTY SMART, AS IT HAPPENS
Nick Saban asked the question Saturday night, “who would be favored” if you lined up all the teams. Good question. Turns out that, like your lying eyeballs, and reams of analytical data, Alabama would be favored against every other 1- and 2-loss contender. Three of them by at least a TD, and two by double digits.
Against the undefeateds, Alabama is a pick’em against Michigan.
Georgia is deservedly the only game where Alabama is a clear underdog.
Alabama vs. Clemson: Alabama -13.09
Alabama vs. USC: Alabama -11.44
Alabama vs. TCU: Alabama -7.78
Alabama vs. Tennessee: Alabama -4.26
Alabama vs. OSU: Alabama -2.15
Alabama vs. Michigan: Michigan -.06
Alabama vs. Georgia: Georgia -8.33
HOW DOES ALABAMA GET INTO THE PLAYOFFS
Pretty simple, actually.
In a weekend of chaos, bad outcomes against bad schedules have to matter. Success against good ones equally so. TCU was one play away from losing six games this year. They had a lot of narrow escapes against an aggressively average schedule. Clemson had one shot to prove it can win outside of the ACC — and got done at home by a very mediocre USCe team with the SEC’s second-worst defense.
WHY THE THIRD SEED?
How they get there — and how they get there as 3-seed — is pretty simple.
The Committee omitted Ole Miss off their ballot last week, in favor of a soup can like UCF. UCF picked up their 4th loss today. If you want to know whether Alabama makes the playoffs? If Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas are ranked, then Alabama is in. And, as they will have three currently-ranked Ws over Top 25s vs. OSU’s one, and no bad losses, and no terrible deficit on one side of the ball, and a very tough schedule, they get in as the third seed.
That has the benefit of putting 4 of the Top 6 television markets in the playoffs. It avoids that first round UM/OSU and Alabama/UGA matchup. And as a matter of competition, people may grouse about whoever wins, but they certainly can’t claim the winner didn’t earn it. There are no First Round gimmes here. This is a ratings bonanza between blue bloods, dynasties, big money, big market schools. It also keeps Michigan and Georgia off the same side of the bracket.
They also happen to be the four best. If that’s what this entire cash grab is about, the four best, then do your damn job, Committee.
- Ohio State
- Kansas State
What are Alabama’s playoff fortunes?
They get in, it’s a weird year. No idea what seed though.
3-seed makes too much sense for a lot of reasons listed above
4-seed: We’re getting a lot of first round rematches.
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