Alabama’s path to the College Football Playoff has been an interesting one and it will continue to be as the final four weeks of the regular season approach. After Week 2’s loss to Texas, the Crimson Tide have been fighting an uphill battle.
With tonight’s College Football Playoff Committee rankings being revealed for the first time, we will all know where the Tide stands and how far of a climb the team has to make to be ranked as one of the top four teams in the nation.
Since the Longhorns earned the win in Tuscaloosa, the Longhorns have been the higher-ranked team in the AP Poll and the US LBM Coaches Poll. With Texas’s recent loss to Oklahoma, and then the Sooners’ loss to Kansas, these three teams form a one-loss triangle.
The question that arises is: where does Alabama rank when it comes to one-loss teams at this point in the season?
Oregon, which also has a single loss on the season, is expected to be the highest-ranked team of the bunch that has had their perfect seasons spoiled.
After the Ducks, there’s a bit of a jam with Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas.
You see, head-to-head matchups must be honored to a certain extent. However, as the season progresses and teams improve, or regress, then maybe other factors should be taken into consideration. The Week 2 version of the Longhorns defeated the Tide, but would the result be the same today?
That question is the cause for much debate. The human aspect of the College Football Playoff is what makes this whole process interesting. The Committee has made it clear that they want the “four best teams in college football” to participate and compete for the chance to earn a national title.
Well, by that standard, we are looking at teams as they stand in the present time; and when you do that, how much weight do you place on a game that happened nearly two months ago?
Texas did lose to Oklahoma and quarterback Quinn Ewers has been injured, but Steve Sarkisian’s team is still solid and deserving of a top-10 ranking.
Alabama, since Week 2, has notably improved on both sides of the ball, especially the offense. Tommy Rees has been stronger as an offensive play-caller, Jalen Milroe is visibly a lot more confident as a passer and the running game continues to develop.
The triangle features some interesting history. Texas beat Alabama in Week 2, then Oklahoma beat Texas in Week 6, and then Oklahoma lost to Kansas in Week 9 after struggling mightily against UCF in Week 8.
For the people who rely solely on head-to-head matchups, what do we make of this? By way of the transitive property, Oklahoma beat Texas, who beat Alabama, therefore the Sooners would be the strongest of the three teams? I don’t think so.
I believe the committee will rank the Longhorns above the Tide and the Sooners below both.
Even ESPN college football expert Heather Dinich states that Texas will likely be above Alabama in the initial rankings, but she adds “for now” at the end of the sentence.
With games against LSU, Kentucky and Auburn to round out the season, Nick Saban’s team has multiple opportunities to flash their strength and resiliency, and prove to the nation that this squad is not the same one that suffered a loss early this season.
Roll Tide Wire will continue to follow Alabama football, the College Football Playoff race and other top storylines from around the country as the 2023 regular season nears its end.