Kirk Herbstreit explains how Alabama can still make the Playoff

by Olga Hunt November 30, 2017, 12:56
Kirk Herbstreit explains how Alabama can still make the Playoff

Alabama finishes 11-1 with no conference or division championship and a loss to Auburn as its last data point, but the Tide have wins over bowl teams LSU, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Colorado State, Fresno State and maybe Florida State.

UCF, a victor over in-state rival USF in a high-scoring thriller Saturday, is the highest-ranked Group of 5 school and sits at No. 14 with designs on a New Year's Day bowl game.

At the top of the CFP rankings are No. 1 Clemson (11-1), No. 2 Auburn (10-2), No. 3 Oklahoma (11-1) and No. 4 Wisconsin (12-0). Things began Friday with No. 2 Miami's loss at Pitt and continued Saturday afternoon when No. 6 Auburn pulled off the upset of No. 1 Alabama.

The Hurricanes (10-1, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) were ranked No. 2 in last week's poll, but they fell out of the top four after a 24-14 loss at Pittsburgh in the final game of the regular season. The reigning champs are followed by Auburn, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Though they didn't earn a Big Ten championship game berth, they matched the best single-season turnaround in wins in program history.

If TCU beats Oklahoma for the Big 12 championship it is unlikely the Horned Frogs can jump all the way into the top four, but both the Frogs and Sooners would get New Year's Six spots.

The final rankings are set to be revealed at 11 a.m. Sunday on ESPN. Not only did the Tigers have a compelling stash of wins already, but they added to it last weekend with their 34-10 nonconference blasting of SC, which had debuted in the rankings last week at No. 24. 1 team in three weeks - Auburn climbed to No. 2, despite owning two losses. Oklahoma and Wisconsin rounded out the top four.

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This puts teams like Alabama in a weird situation where they actually want their hated rival Auburn to win all their games that are not against the Crimson Tide.

Another wild card in the batch would be Auburn, No. 6 last weekend, but capable of turning up just about anywhere north of that tonight. Meanwhile, Baker Mayfield & Co. boast victories against Ohio State, Oklahoma State and TCU and a not-as-bad loss to Iowa State. Ohio State would own a conference championship, but Oklahoma decisively beat the Buckeyes in Columbus on September 9. If TCU and Stanford lose, that could be recipe for getting Washington into the New Year's Six.

No. 11 Southern California (minus 4) vs. But although the committee starts from scratch every week, going from 10 or 11 to the top four seems too far-fetched, no matter how chaotic things might get.

"The Selection Committee had questions as to are they as balanced of a team as some others that are ranked just above them, and we analyzed their schedule, have they really been tested on the defensive side of the ball this year, and if so, by who, and based on that conversation, we ranked them in that 14th spot this week", Hocutt said.

The national semifinals are set for January 1, at 4 the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and at 7:45 the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Notre Dame (9-3), 16.

The AAC victor is probably going to the Peach Bowl.

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