At this point, Alabama controls its own Playoff destiny. If the Crimson Tide win their remaining three regular season games (at Mississippi State, vs. Charleston Southern, at Auburn) and then top Florida in the SEC Championship Game, No. 2 ‘Bama will certainly earn one of the committee’s top four spots.
But if — Bear forbid — Alabama drops one of its remaining games, what will need to happen for the Tide to get into the Playoff field?
We’re pretty certain that a two-loss Tide team that doesn’t play for an SEC championship will be out. So if the loss comes against Auburn, then ‘Bama will need help in the form of losses by both LSU and Ole Miss.
If Alabama falls this weekend, then it will need losses by LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State to climb back into the West driver’s seat.
If the loss comes against Florida in the championship, then ‘Bama would still need some serious outside help to sneak in. Basically, Crimson Tide fans should be rooting for total chaos both inside and outside the SEC, so long as those upsets don’t involve Alabama.
Knowing this, here are the teams Tide fans should pull for this weekend:
No. 8 Oklahoma State at Iowa State (3:30 pm ET, ESPN)
Root for: Iowa State. Remember this matchup in 2011? Oklahoma State was undefeated and No. 3 in the country. A win in Ames likely would’ve put them in the national title game. But the previously lifeless Cyclones ruined the Cowboys’ dream season with a double-overtime victory. The Big 12 might need an undefeated champion in order to grab a Playoff bid; an OSU loss would leave Baylor as the only remaining option.
Arkansas at No. 9 LSU (7:15 pm ET, ESPN)
Root for: Arkansas. The Razorbacks have three SEC losses, while the Tigers have one. Alabama owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over LSU, so if the Tigers lose again, they’ll need ‘Bama to lose its final two SEC games to have any chance at the West.
Oregon at No. 7 Stanford (7:30 pm ET, FOX)
Root for: Oregon. Usually, Stanford is the team vying to ruin Oregon’s season. Not this year. The Cardinal are trying to stay alive until their rivalry game against Notre Dame on Nov. 28. If both Stanford and ND can survive until then, the winner will be a heavy Playoff favorite.
No. 12 Oklahoma at No. 6 Baylor (8:00 pm ET, ABC)
Root for: Oklahoma. While the Sooners have been white-hot as of late, they still have a loss to their name. Baylor does not. The “sooner” the Bears go down, the better.
No. 10 Utah at Arizona (10:00 pm ET, FS1)
Root for: Arizona. If Stanford can’t close the deal in the Pac 12, Utah will be waiting in the wings. The Utes were a Playoff favorite earlier this year, and would command the committee’s attention by winning out. Looking past 5-5 Arizona would be a horrendous mistake, however.
Other rooting interests: Illinois over No. 3 Ohio State, Wake Forest over No. 4 Notre Dame, Minnesota over No. 5 Iowa, Maryland over No. 13 Michigan State, Indiana over No. 14 Michigan, Kansas over No. 15 TCU.