Playoff committee ranks Alabama No. 5, Auburn No. 12 – Five takeaways
The college football playoff committee announced its next round of rankings on Tuesday evening, and sent a few messages in the process. Here are five takeaways:
1. The committee has now taken two inconsistent approaches to ranking Alabama. Committee chairman Rob Mullens went to great lengths last week to say the committee held the Crimson Tide in high regard for its personnel and overall ability. Yet, in this week’s ranking, the committee dropped Alabama below a Georgia team which has shown it does not have an elite unit on either side of the ball and has a home loss to a bad South Carolina team on its resume.
Georgia beat a mediocre Missouri team last weekend. Alabama took a close loss — now the best loss in the country — to No. 1 LSU with a hobbled Tua Tagovailoa. If the committee indeed held Alabama in high regard last week, this week’s events should have done nothing to vault Georgia ahead of the Tide.
2. “Auburn is the most important non-contender in all of college football.” Those were the words of ESPN studio host Rece Davis. Perhaps that was the network’s finest analysis of the evening. The fate of three highly-ranked teams is tied to the outcome of Auburn’s remaining games. The No. 12 Tigers face No. 4 Georgia this weekend and No. 5 Alabama in the Iron Bowl in three weeks. We wrote earlier this week about how Crimson Tide fans will want to practice saying ‘War Eagle’ heading into Auburn’s matchup on Saturday. An Auburn win is good for Alabama any way you cut it.
Oregon is sneaking around the top-four itself, and so for Auburn to keep winning would help their loss in Dallas look a little more forgivable. Auburn will now have a few hundred thousand extra fans in its corner by kickoff on Saturday.
3. Alabama now gets to see how the other half lives. The reality is that by this point in any season most teams get into the playoff as a result of some other teams’ misfortune. That’s rarely been the case for Alabama. The Tide have largely steamrolled into the playoffs year after year. At No. 5, with some future conference champions right behind them, Alabama needs some help. Clemson looking past one of their remaining inferior opponents and choking away a game would help. But so would some losses from one of the teams behind them. Which brings us to…
4. The committee sure wants to place a PAC 12 champion in the playoff this year. It’s been three years since a PAC 12 team made the playoff. There have only been two teams from the conference to ever make the top-four. The committee seems to be angling for that to change this year. Oregon came in at No. 6 this week, and Utah came in at No. 7. It certainly look as if the committee is setting up a strategy to put one of those two in the playoff as a conference champion. Alabama could use Utah and Oregon to take another loss to become a two-loss champion. A statement win against Auburn (who beat Oregon) in the Iron Bowl would help make its case, as well.
5. The Big 12 will be sitting this year’s playoff out. The committee does not think highly of the Big 12 — at all. One-loss Oklahoma is ranked No. 10, while undefeated Baylor is ranked directly behind two two-loss teams at No. 13. The message from the committee is clear: the Big 12 should make other plans for New Years. Even seven-time national champion Minnesota made the leap to respectability with its No. 8 ranking this week. Oklahoma and Baylor can only dream.
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia