Tide fans should practice saying these two words: ‘War’ and ‘Eagle’
There has never been a college football playoff without the Alabama Crimson Tide. So, one can imagine the collective shoulder shrug from Tide fans should they end up facing Baylor in the Sugar Bowl or Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl with a mere fifth-place ranking on the line.
Despite what happened in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, all is not lost for Tide fans. There is a distinct possibility Alabama does not drop out of the top 4 when the playoff rankings come out on Tuesday.
That would still amount to some pretty thin ice. The analytics site FiveThirtyEight is not particularly bullish on Alabama’s chances to make the playoff, placing only an 11% chance on that happening.
On the other hand, ESPN’s playoff predictor views the Tide’s chances favorably pegging them with a 41% chance of making the playoff.
Updated college football playoff chances from the Allstate Playoff Predictor. Not only is Alabama very much still alive — it has the fourth-best chance to reach the CFP and win the national championship. pic.twitter.com/hPXwkHGrpZ
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) November 10, 2019
The Tide now sit in the unenviable position of needing some help. Some teams will take unexpected losses. That type of chaos only helps. The more chaos across college football, the better for Nick Saban’s squad.
This unfamiliar predicament for the Tide gets even stranger when you consider one team which could help itself and Alabama this weekend: the Auburn Tigers.
Auburn is a 2.5 point underdog at home to Georgia this weekend. For a few reasons, a big Auburn victory could help Alabama navigate the treacherous playoff waters in the weeks ahead.
Don’t be surprised if the committee slots Alabama in the fourth spot in this week’s rankings. The committee said publicly how highly they thought of Alabama’s personnel. If that happens, then look for Georgia to be nipping at the Tide’s heels in the fifth spot. Maybe Georgia comes in at 4 and Alabama at 5.
Either way, Alabama needs Georgia to go away.
A one-loss Georgia SEC champion means Alabama is out of the playoff. LSU would still get in, but there would not be any room for a third SEC team. At least a sliver of hope would exist if Georgia were a two-loss SEC champion. There is precedent for this situation. Penn State was a two-loss Big 10 champ and failed to make the playoff over a one-loss Ohio State which did not play in its conference championship game. Plus, Georgia has an inexplicable loss to an awful South Carolina team on its record. And then there’s the certainty that a three-loss Georgia team goes away like Alabama would want it to.
More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that Auburn beating Georgia sets up the opportunity for Alabama to pick up a much-needed victory over a top-10 team. A win on the road over a highly-ranked Auburn team would give the committee the cover it needs to tuck Alabama into that fourth position in the final rankings.
It would also help Alabama’s resume in direct comparison to one other team vying for the back end of the playoff seedings. Oregon dropped a close game to Auburn in the season opener and has been trying to play catchup ever since.
A one-loss PAC 12 champion Oregon would be looking to make its second college football playoff appearance. While the committee’s criteria calls for weight being given to conference championships, it also calls for the same consideration of common opponents.
Just thought of this re Alabama if it comes to a dual with Oregon. One of the committee’s protocols is head-to-head results. In comparing a possible Pac-12 champ (Oregon) to a possible second-place SEC West (Alabama), Bama wouldn’t have 13th data point but would have win over Aub
— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) November 11, 2019
Expect them to look closely at how Alabama handled Auburn compared to Oregon’s showing in Dallas.
The Iron Bowl is always better among top-10 teams. But this year, Alabama needs it to happen.
Come on, Tide fans, warm up the pipes for this weekend: “War Eagle!”
Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia