Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

How can Alabama make the College Football Playoff?

CW/ Natalie Teat
Alabama head football coach Nick Saban leads the players out to face Auburn in the Iron Bowl on Nov. 25 in Auburn, Ala.

The Alabama Crimson Tide will be fighting not only for an SEC championship on Saturday, but also a chance at the national championship. Currently, Alabama is ranked No. 8 in the College Football Playoff poll and does not control its own destiny like in years past. Here are the scenarios that would rank Alabama in the top four on selection day. 

Scenario 1: Louisville wins the ACC and Alabama wins the SEC

Going into conference championship week, only one conference will automatically have a team in the playoff: the Pac-12. No matter what happens between Washington and Oregon on Friday, one of those teams will clinch a top four spot. Michigan will most likely make the playoffs because the team is playing an Iowa team that has one of the worst offenses in the Football Bowl Subdivision. This leaves two spots open for four teams: Georgia, Alabama, Texas and Florida State. 

Of all the teams in the hunt for a playoff spot, Florida State is the most vulnerable. Even though the Seminoles are undefeated, the team lost its star quarterback Jordan Travis to a season-ending leg injury. Without Travis, the Seminoles barely got past a 5-7 Florida team. One loss would most likely eliminate Florida State, and its next opponent will be ready. 

Even though Louisville is currently 10-2, this is the first time in its program’s history that the team will be playing the ACC championship. With everything to play for, Louisville will pull out everything in its arsenal to secure its first ACC title. If Louisville pulls off the upset and Alabama beats Georgia, then your four playoff teams will be Michigan, the winner of Washington and Oregon, Texas, and Alabama. Georgia would be eliminated not because it does not deserve to be in, but due to the amount of teams that would have conference championships over it.

Scenario 2: Alabama wins the SEC, Texas loses the Big 12

All year, Alabama and Texas have been neck and neck in the college football rankings. Even though the Longhorns beat the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa earlier this year, analysts have debated which team is truly better right now. Texas has the head-to-head victory, but Alabama has vastly improved over the season, unlike the Longhorns. Both teams have the same record of 11-1, with Texas’ only loss being to 10-2 Oklahoma in Dallas. Texas seemingly has the easier conference championship game, but this Oklahoma State team is quietly one of the hottest teams in the nation. 

Led by head coach Mike Gundy and star running back Ollie Gordon, Oklahoma State is 9-3 and has a big-time win over the No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners. In this scenario, let’s say Alabama beats Georgia and Texas loses to Oklahoma State. The Crimson Tide would go into the playoff with a 12-1 record, while Texas would continue its 17-year drought of not winning a national championship by finishing the season at 11-2. Your four playoff teams would be Michigan, the winner of the Pac-12, Florida State and Alabama. 

Scenario 3: Alabama wins SEC, Texas loses Big 12, FSU loses ACC

In the past two scenarios, either Texas or Florida State lost its conference championship, but what if both teams lost? This is where the chaos begins and debates emerge between College Football Playoff selection committee members. If both Texas and Florida State lose, then three teams would automatically be in, those teams would be Michigan, the winner of the Pac-12, and Alabama. The debate would become which team deserves the fourth spot. If Oregon wins the Pac-12, then the debate comes down to one-loss Washington versus one-loss Georgia. If Washington beats Oregon for the second time this year, then the debate would be between one-loss Florida State; one-loss Ohio State, which lost “The Game”; and one-loss Georgia. The most likely fourth team would be Georgia, and there’s the possibility of an Alabama-Georgia rematch in the national championship once again. 

Scenario 4: Georgia, Michigan, Florida State and Texas all lose

Scenario 4 is pure chaos and would turn the college football world upside down. What if Georgia, Michigan, Florida State and Texas all lost their respective conference championships? If this happens, then Alabama would get to choose where the team plays in its playoff semifinal. In the College Football Playoff, the higher seeds (the No. 1 and 2 spots) pick where they play their semifinal games. This year, the two playoff locations are Pasadena, California, for the Rose Bowl and New Orleans, Louisiana, for the Sugar Bowl.

In this scenario, Alabama and the winner of the Pac-12 would be No. 1 and 2 seeds, depending on where the committee places them. Most likely, Alabama would choose to play in New Orleans to get more fans to come, while the Pac-12 champion would choose the Rose Bowl. The final two teams are where debate starts again. Most likely Georgia would get in due to being No. 1 all year and, in this scenario, having only one loss to Alabama in the SEC championship. The final spot would be a toss-up between one-loss Michigan, which would have lost to an OK Iowa team; a one-loss Florida State team that lost its quarterback and the ACC championship; or possibly a one-loss Washington team that lost to Oregon in the Pac-12 championship. 

In summary, Alabama needs two things to make the final four-team College Football Playoff. The first is to snap the 29-game win streak of the Georgia Bulldogs and beat them in the SEC championship. The second is for Michigan, Texas or Florida State to lose its conference championship. If no chaos happens, then Alabama’s chances of making the playoff would be very slim because the Crimson Tide would have to win a debate with a Texas team, which it lost to earlier in the year, or a one-loss Pac-12 champion in Oregon. None of this matters, however, unless Alabama wins its 30th SEC championship.

More to Discover