alabama might have a chance to rewrite another rule when it comes to the college football playoffs.
no team with two losses has reached the cfp since it began in 2014. no. 2 Alabama (9-1) is the highest-ranked team with a loss behind no. 1 Georgia (10-0). cfp selection committee chairman gary barta said there was a debate in favor of that no. 2 place with no. 3 oregon and no. 4 ohio state.
“I can tell you that 2, 3 and 4 was an area where the conversation was a little longer,” Barta said. “I mentioned earlier, we didn’t learn much about Alabama this week, but we continue to be impressed with how they play on both sides of the ball. There was a good conversation about where the states of Alabama, Oregon and Ohio should stand.”
more: barta explains the choice to rank michigan ahead of mich. state
if the crimson tide wins then they will stay ahead of the ducks and buckeyes and probably take the no. 1 seed in a two-team runner-up scenario with Georgia. that will go mostly unchallenged.
so what happens if alabama loses? Would a two-loss Crimson Tide team be prepared to break some of the unwritten PFC guidelines and become the first two-loss team to make the playoffs? the foundations for that debate are already being developed in two scenarios.
alabama could lose to arkansas or auburn in one of its last two games and then beat georgia in the second championship game. Or Alabama could lose to the Bulldogs in the SEC championship game. if it’s close, then crimson tide would still make it to the playoffs?
more: latest cfp ratings
Watch the top two ranked losing teams in the final cfp standings to see where that could end up.
highest ranked team with two losses in the final cfp standings
*indicates conference champion **indicates conference runner-up
georgia landed at no. 5 in consecutive seasons, including in 2018 when the Bulldogs lost a 35-28 thriller to Alabama in the second championship game. However, there was no playoff window with Alabama (13-0), Clemson (13-0), Notre Dame (12-0) and Oklahoma (12-1).
This year’s field is very different. Georgia could clinch a playoff spot simply by going 12-0 in the regular season. the rest of the crowd of power 5 one loss contenders will thin out in the coming weeks.
ohio state (9-1) plays no. 7 Michigan State (9-1) and no. 6 Michigan (9-1) the next two weeks. No. 9 Oklahoma State (9-1) and no. 13 Oklahoma (9-1) could play each other twice, and the Big 12 could still be on the outside looking in. Oregon (9-1) is an underdog this week over Utah (7-3) in the Pac-12.
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so let’s say georgia beats alabama in a close contest and ohio state and oregon hold their spots. Who would the crimson tide have to contain to stay?
a champion of the big 12 with a loss? a champion acc of a loss if not. 10 wake forest (9-1) win? No. 8 Notre Dame (9-1) without a conference championship? Alabama could win those debates relatively easily.
Ultimately, it comes down to a question that the committee might be forced to answer. but. 5 Cincinnati (10-0) wins, so would the committee let in the first 5-team group or the first two-loss team?
cincinnati should be the team to go in at that point. The Bearcats have a top 10 win against Notre Dame, an undefeated record, and can help themselves by dominating SMU, East Carolina and probably Houston in the American Athletic Conference championship. if they don’t let a group of 5 schools in at that point, what’s the point of having g5 schools in the top 25 rankings?
still, alabama could be the team that gets the no. 4 place, and the cfp committee will use any justification issues for that to happen. Crimson Tide’s best win is against Ole Miss, a two-loss team that could break on the sixth day of New Years. The schedule strength argument will come into play, and the phrase “put alabama on a neutral field against (insert team here)” will be used for all ejecting teams. Just wait until Alabama coach Nick Saban plays politics.
the committee already set a dangerous precedent by putting michigan ahead of the state of michigan in the past two weeks. what will stop them from drafting their own statutes with alabama?
they did that in 2018 when alabama made the cfp despite not making the sec championship game. The Crimson Tide proved them right with a 26-23 victory over Georgia in the CFP Championship.
alabama, like it or not, operates by its own set of rules. fair or not (not fair), that could lead the first team with two losses to win the cfp.
If it comes down to it, then that barta-referenced conversation about the placement of the top four teams won’t take as long as you might think.