ROOTING GUIDE: Which teams Alabama needs to win or lose to help CFP berth

In the latest College Football Playoff rankings, Alabama moved up one spot thanks to a rough Tennessee loss to South Carolina. Now at No. 7, the Crimson Tide’s chances of making the playoff improve slightly, but not enough to expect an appearance.

A slight chance is better than no chance, so let’s see what needs to happen this week to help the Tide. Earlier this week, Roll Tide Wire’s Sam Murphy broke down the path to the playoff for Alabama, here’s what needs to happen this week to pave that path (or just keep it alive).

As Alabama prepares to take on Auburn in the Iron Bowl, here’s a brief list of games Crimson Tide fans need to keep an eye on and which teams they should hope end the 2022 regular season with a win.

First and foremost: Alabama must win big

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No two-loss team has ever made the College Football Playoff and there’s a good chance 2022 won’t be the first year, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. One absolute certainty, however, is that Alabama can kiss goodbye to the playoffs, a top 10 ranking, and any major bowl game if an Auburn team with an interim head coach and a 5-6 record strolls into Tuscaloosa and wins the Iron Bowl. A dominant win for the Crimson Tide makes the team look as good as possible in the eyes of the committee.

SOUTH CAROLINA vs. CLEMSON: South Carolina

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Just last week, South Carolina hosted Tennessee and had the Volunteers leave with a hefty 63-28 loss, which knocked Tennessee out of contention for the playoffs and opened up a spot for Alabama to move up. Now, the Gamecocks must repeat the impressive feat from a week ago and take down No. 8 Clemson.

Though the argument could be made that Clemson isn’t as big of a threat because the team would have to jump No. 7 Alabama in the rankings, it must be noted that the Tigers will get to play in the ACC Championship Game. Even if a win over South Carolina doesn’t bump Clemson up over Alabama, defeating UNC for a conference title will certainly help. A Gamecocks win seals the Tigers’ fate.

NOTRE DAME vs. USC: Notre Dame

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The Trojans sit just one spot ahead of Alabama at No. 6 and, like Clemson, will have an extra opportunity to earn bonus points with the playoff committee by participating in the Pac-12 Championship.

A Notre Dame win here would essentially crush USC’s chances at making the CFP and would make room for the Crimson Tide to move up in the next rankings.

LSU vs. TEXAS A&M: Texas A&M

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Because of the win over Alabama a few weeks ago, LSU will take on Georgia in the SEC Championship. Many expect the Tigers to lose that matchup, but falling to Texas A&M this week would end No. 5 LSU’s hopes early and would allow for the Crimson Tide to move up in the rankings before conference championships begin.

IOWA STATE vs. TCU: Iowa State

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TCU has surprised many with its high level of play this season, but some are still hesitant to claim the Horned Frogs are worthy of a playoff spot. In the final week of the season, TCU hosts the 4-7 Iowa State Cyclones. This would be a pretty big upset if Iowa State pulls it off.

The Horned Frogs will also be playing in the Big 12 conference championship, which could help or hurt this team. For this week, though, Alabama fans need the Cyclones to take down No. 4 TCU.

MICHIGAN vs. OHIO STATE: Ohio State (by a lot)

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One of the nation’s biggest rivalries will essentially serve as a play-in game for the conference championship and a quarterfinal for the College Football Playoff. For Alabama’s sake, Ohio State should be the team to win this one and it would be best if it wasn’t close.

Why the Buckeyes, you might be asking? Well, It’s clear that Ohio State is considered to be the stronger team. Though Ohio State is only one spot ahead at No. 2 while Michigan is No. 3, the Buckeyes have been the higher-ranked team dating back to the preseason AP poll. I would argue a Michigan win doesn’t drop Ohio State all too far, whereas a Wolverine’s loss, especially by a solid margin, would likely knock Jim Harbaugh and company out of the top four.

This game could go either way and still help the Crimson Tide, but I am convinced the committee has a gap between Ohio State and Michigan. Let the stronger of the two programs win for the sole purpose of removing the weaker team from contention.

GEORGIA TECH vs. GEORGIA: Does not matter (but probably Georgia)

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A 5-6 Georgia Tech team upsetting Georgia would certainly make headlines and cause chaos within the top four, but is the really beneficial to Alabama? Similar to my argument as to why it should be Ohio State over Michigan, let the strong team stay put. Not only would a loss this week only bump Georgia down a few spots, but the team would have an opportunity to make up for it in the conference championship.

Let the teams at the top remain there while the few behind them fall off. Chaos is needed to bump the Crimson Tide to the top four, but too much mayhem could result in Alabama moving up a bit, but still falling short.

Story originally appeared on Roll Tide Wire