After losing 35-28 to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship, do the Georgia Bulldogs have a legitimate case to being the first two-loss team in?
The heartbreak continues for the Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia was leading 28-14 in the 2018 SEC Championship Game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. After outstanding placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship missed a rare field goal try that would have put Georgia up 31-14, the Dawgs surrendered 21 unanswered points to lose yet again to Alabama, 35-28.
Georgia has lost its last five games versus Alabama dating back to 2008 during the infamous “Blackout Game” at home. Three of these losses have been three of the most painful in Georgia football history: the 2012 SEC Championship Game, the 2017 National Championship Game and now the 2018 SEC Championship Game.
Simply put, Georgia has proven over the last decade that it can hang with college football’s most preeminent program in Alabama, but hasn’t beaten the Crimson Tide on the gridiron just yet. That being said, is there a case that Georgia could be the first two-loss, non-conference champion to reach the College Football Playoff?
It’s slim, but possible. Entering Saturday’s conference title bout, both Alabama and Georgia were ranked in the top four. Alabama was undefeated at No. 1. Georgia’s lone regular season loss was to the LSU Tigers on the road in Baton Rouge.
Typically a two-loss, non-champion isn’t getting in. However, Georgia was the only team this year to not lose to Alabama by three scores. For the better part of the ball game, Georgia was in command of the Crimson Tide. Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback Tua Tagovailoa struggled throughout the ball game before succumbing to injury. His backup and former Alabama starter Jalen Hurts came in to save the day for the Crimson Tide.
Even with this defeat, there is a chance that the College Football Playoff Selection Committee could view Georgia as a top-four team. Georgia would probably beat other Playoff contending teams like the No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners and the No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes on a neutral-site. The Dawgs showed they belong on the same field as Alabama and arguably the second best team in the country in the No. 2 Clemson Tigers.
However, No. 5 Oklahoma already won its conference championship by avenging its lone loss of the season to the Texas Longhorns in the Big 12 Championship Game in Arlington, Texas. No. 6 Ohio State probably won’t have the résumé to get in, even if it wins the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis over the Northwestern Wildcats. Northwestern didn’t win a non-conference game this season.
Let’s not forget that both No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Notre Dame were a perfect 12-0 entering play on Saturday. Notre Dame doesn’t have a 13th data point to include in its Playoff push. That being said, it would be awfully hard for the Selection Committee to hold a huge national independent brand like Notre Dame out of the Playoff, especially after it navigated its regular season to perfection.
Realistically, Georgia’s best bet is to hope that Clemson loses the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte to the Pittsburgh Panthers. However, that is very unlikely, as Pittsburgh won the ACC Coastal Division despite having five regular season losses on the year.
Overall, Georgia’s loss to Alabama is probably the best loss any team has in the Power 5 this season. That being said, the Dawgs’ loss to LSU back in early October in Baton Rouge was an ugly one. Is Georgia one of the four best teams in the country? One could argue that.
Unfortunately for Dawg Nation, Georgia is not one of the most deserving teams to get in. Two losses and no conference championship will likely keep them out. It’s not a certainty that the Dawgs aren’t getting in, but they are more likely to play in the Allstate Sugar Bowl in the New Year’s Six versus Texas than they are to hold on to the No. 4 spot and get in for the second straight season.