After falling at home to the LSU Tigers, the Alabama Crimson Tide must swallow their pride and root for the Auburn Tigers to beat the Georgia Bulldogs.
In what is the biggest game of the college football season up to this point, the Alabama Crimson Tide lost a shootout at home to the LSU Tigers last Saturday. This defeat was Alabama’s first at home since falling to the Ole Miss Rebels back in 2015. While losing to LSU is about as good of a loss you could hope for, it does make it hard for Alabama to reach the College Football Playoff.
LSU was by far and away the best team Alabama played this year. Alabama’s best win up to this point has to be over a so-so Texas A&M Aggies team. This loss to LSU makes it next to impossible for the Crimson Tide to even reach the SEC Championship, as they would need the Tigers to lose twice in the final three weeks of the regular-season to overcome the head-to-head tiebreaker.
To make matters even worse, Alabama finds itself on the outside looking in at the top-four of the College Football Playoff Rankings entering Week 12. Alabama ranks fifth behind three undefeated teams in No. 1 LSU, the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes, the No. 3 Clemson Tigers and a one-loss No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs team that lost at home in double overtime to the 4-6 South Carolina Gamecocks.
Alabama still has three regular-season games left on the slate, and all of them are certainly winnable. The Crimson Tide are going to beat the tar out of the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville on Saturday. After that, they face the Western Carolina Catamounts and then have a road affair with archrival Auburn down on The Plains. So Alabama can totally get to 11-1 (7-1).
However, that may not be enough to crack the top-four as a one-loss, at-large team in the Selection Committee’s eyes. Alabama’s best win would on the road over a three-loss Auburn team, a team that has already lost to LSU and the Florida Gators. Simply put, Alabama may not have the resume to get in over a one-loss, Power 5 champion or another one-loss, at-large team.
So what is Alabama to do going forward? Beat the ever-living snot out of Mississippi State in Starkville and swallow its pride so that it can root for archrival Auburn to beat Georgia in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. Alabama needs Auburn to be as good as possible if it wants to even dream about making the College Football Playoff as a one-loss, at-large team.
The reason Auburn beating Georgia is so vital is that it would do two things that would significantly help Alabama’s slim Playoff chances. A second loss by the Dawgs to an SEC team knocks them out of serious Playoff contention. Georgia can still reach the SEC Championship with a home win over Texas A&M, but the Committee won’t let a two-loss Power 5 champion in.
The other reason Auburn beating Georgia is key to Alabama realistically getting back into the top four is that Auburn would presumably be a top-10 team when Alabama comes to town. The Tigers would have two signature wins on the year over the Oregon Ducks on a neutral site and at home vs. Georgia. A 9-2 (5-2) Auburn team would be seen as the best two-loss team in the country.
But what if Auburn loses at home to Georgia like it tends to happen from time to time in this cross-divisional rivalry? Can the Crimson Tide still get in for the sixth-straight year? Well, in that case, Alabama will need to win out and hope for pure unadulterated chaos. This would require Clemson losing, as well as the Big 12 and Pac-12 cannibalizing itself.
The Big Ten and SEC are getting a team in, possibly two depending on how the cookie crumbles. Alabama is one of three teams in the SEC that can get in, along with LSU and Georgia, who are on a collision course to meet in Atlanta for the conference championship. While Alabama doesn’t control its destiny, the Committee may find a way to convince itself they’re a top-four team.