TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — After a long day and likely sleepless night for many University of Alabama football fans, it’s down to nail-biting time.
Will the College Football Playoff committee chose the Crimson Tide for the final spot in the semifinals, or opt for Ohio State? The announcement will be made at approximately 12:30 p.m. ET during ESPN’s 4-hour reveal show — and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the committee needs a little extra time.
It just might be that difficult of a decision.
Although No. 5 Alabama (11-1) would be breathing a little easier had some other games gone differently during championship weekend, the Crimson Tide received the one outcome they desperately needed with Ohio State knocking off previously undefeated Wisconsin for the Big Ten title.
While it certainly qualified as a solid victory for the Buckeyes, 27-21, it was also a pretty ugly one, which can only help Alabama’s chances.
Overall, the Buckeyes are 11-2 and Big Ten champions. They previously played three teams that were ranked at the time, defeating then-No. 2 Penn State 39-38 and No. 12 Michigan State 48-3. Both games were at home.
Ohio State lost at home to then-No. 5 Oklahoma, 31-16, and was routed at Iowa 55-24. It had a chance to make a statement against Wisconsin but failed to do so.
Was it enough to get Alabama in? It depends who you ask.
Conference Championships separate teams in CFP? So, Clemson and Miami lose to Syracuse and Pitt (9-15), but still play for the ACC title. Alabama loses to AUBURN and the ACC title is held against the Tide? Nonsensical.
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) December 3, 2017
“Just kind of wait and see what happens,” Nick Saban said on ESPN’s College GameDay on Saturday morning. “I hope everyone wants to put the best four teams in there, that they look at the total sort of value of the total body of work that every team has done. And I think if people do that, we’ll be fine.”
However, here are five important factors that have to be considered:
1) Alabama has been more consistent
Analyst Gary Danielson made this point during the CBS broadcast of the SEC Championship Game, and it’s a good one. Alabama carried the No. 1 moniker from the preseason through 11 games and the bye week. Ohio State stumbled not once, but twice, without anywhere near that kind of pressure.
Moreover, the committee placed Alabama ahead of Georgia in last week’s rankings and they had the same record.
So, Alabama could get bounced because it played in the SEC West, the division that has produced more playoff teams and national champions than any conference over the past 10 years. Moreover, it isn’t receiving the credit it deserves for defeating Florida State and Mississippi State, who saw their starting quarterbacks suffer injuries.
Ohio State’s loss at Iowa on Nov. 4 is glaring. No offense to the Hawkeyes, but which venue is tougher to play, Auburn in a rivalry setting or Iowa? Alabama was also in the game until the fourth quarter. Ohio State was down 31-17 at halftime to a team that lost to Purdue.
3) History, Part I
A two-loss team hasn’t been selected for the national championship game/playoff since 2007, when LSU played eight ranked opponents. Auburn was knocking on the door but had to defeat two No. 1 teams to have the opportunity. Ohio State’s most impressive win was against Penn State, when the Nittany Lions were No. 2, but its overall résumé isn’t on par with those other teams.
4) History, Part II
Ohio State got the nod last year over Big Ten champion Penn State, which had two losses and the head-to-head edge. The precedent has been set.
The committee gave Ohio State the benefit of doubt last year, and the Buckeyes were subsequently blown out by Clemson. It’s not supposed to be part of the selection criteria, but a rematch would likely be a ratings dud. Alabama-Clemson, which played for the last two national championships, would be a huge draw.
While Ohio State coach Urban Meyer called the Big Ten “arguably the toughest conference in America” during the Big Ten postgame celebration, Saban was lobbying on ESPN just after midnight ET.
“I think you should look at the whole body of work,” he said.
Nick Saban to Scott Van Pelt: "I think if we lost to a team by 30 points, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. You wouldn't even be talking to me."
— Marq Burnett (@Marq_Burnett) December 3, 2017
Perhaps the decision comes down to one question: If Alabama and Ohio State were to play, which team would be favored?
It’ll be interesting to see what the committee does.