After big wins in their conference title games Saturday afternoon, SEC champion Georgia (12-1) and Big 12 champion Oklahoma (12-1) are near locks to make the College Football Playoff. Clemson (11-1) can earn its 12th win over Miami on Saturday night and become the third likely semifinalist.
That leaves one spot for Alabama (11-1) or the winner of Saturday night’s Big Ten final — Ohio State (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (13-0).
For Gary Danielson, who has called SEC games for CBS since 2006, that’s not how it should go down. As far as he’s concerned, just forget about Georgia’s decisive win over Auburn, and put Alabama in the final four.
“I don’t think the committee should take this game into [account] at all,” Danielson said during the broadcast. “I think, game one to the last game, Alabama has been the most consistent team. I think you could make the argument that top to bottom they have not had any bad games. They’re one of the four best teams.”
It was unclear whether Danielson meant Alabama should be in over Georgia or that the Tigers’ bad loss shouldn’t hurt the Crimson Tide’s résumé. In last weekend’s Iron Bowl, Alabama lost its first game of the season at now-three-loss Auburn, 26-14. Still, the Crimson Tide appears to have a better résumé than two-loss Ohio State, which lost at Iowa (7-5) and at home to Oklahoma.
But if Wisconsin beats the Buckeyes to become the only Power Five school with 13 wins, could the committee still choose Alabama? And, to take things a step further, wouldn’t it be more fun to be choosing between Penn State and Miami for the eighth spot? Or Michigan State and LSU for the 16th?
Outside the realm of the power conferences, on Saturday afternoon in the American Athletic Conference title game, Central Florida outlasted Memphis, 62-55, in double overtime. The Knights (12-0) are nowhere near the discussion for a CFP spot. Under the current format, it’s hard to see any way the little guys can contend for a title.
No matter the hypothetical, Alabama remains safely in the conversation despite the disastrous state of the SEC West. Outside of the state of Alabama this fall, Mississippi State lost its coach to Florida, LSU had its struggles under first-year Coach Ed Orgeron, Mississippi was banned from the postseason for recruiting violations and both Arkansas and Texas A&M fired their coaches. In its nonconference slate, Alabama beat Florida State (6-6), Fresno State (10-3), Colorado State (7-5) and Mercer (5-6).
On paper, Alabama’s rivalry loss, its down division and its weak nonconference schedule does not make for an indisputable case for a semifinal spot. On the other hand, we could just be like Danielson and pencil in Nick Saban’s bunch without much thought.
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