The College Football Playoff committee has made it clear. They want Alabama in the final four at the end of the season. Now, it’s up to the Crimson Tide to prove it is worthy of such consideration.

Bama has 3 games left before the committee has to announce its final decision on the Tide, which was ranked No. 2 in the latest poll. Alabama will host Arkansas on Saturday then play at Auburn before playing Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama will be a double-digit favorite against Arkansas and Auburn. I doubt seriously that Nick Saban cares about point spreads, but the national media will take that into account. That same media will help shape Alabama’s image before each and every remaining show by The College Football Playoff committee this season.

If Alabama is going to be included in the Playoff, the Tide need to win and win big. Bama needs to look like 1 of the top 4 teams in the nation against the Razorbacks and Tigers in the next 2 weeks. Then, the stage would be set for Bama to still have a fighting chance at a Playoff spot even if it loses a close game to Georgia. Beating the consensus No. 1 Bulldogs is not out of the question and that certainly would clinch a Playoff spot and likely the No. 1 seed. Saban’s teams typically rise to the occasion and he knows what Georgia coach Kirby Smart is doing on defense almost as well as Smart does.

The committee gave themselves some wiggle room by keeping Alabama at No. 2 on their most recent list. Depending on what happens elsewhere, most notably another Oregon loss, if Bama loses to Georgia in a close SEC Championship Game, then the committee could still drop them 2 spots to 4 and keep a strong television draw in the fold. If the committee does, indeed, want to award Alabama for a good, but not great, season, they lost some of the oomph behind their argument when Texas A&M lost to Ole Miss last week. The Aggies’ resurgence before that took some of the shame off Bama’s loss in College Station on Oct. 9. Now, it’s completely up to the Crimson Tide to pass the all-important eye test. That starts with Arkansas on Saturday.

The Arkansas game is certainly no pushover. The Razorbacks made national news earlier this season when they beat 2 ranked rivals: No. 15 Texas and No. 7 Texas A&M. The Razorbacks weren’t even supposed to be in those games if you asked top college football analysts about them before the season. However, Arkansas won both games and are 7-3 with 2 games remaining. They’re No. 21 in the latest Playoff rankings.

Arkansas has achieved its surprising success with an old-fashioned approach. They actually run the ball. Imagine that. The Tigers’ 234 rushing yards per game is 2nd-best in the SEC. To Arkansas coach Sam Pittman’s dismay, his team isn’t as good on the line of scrimmage defensively. Arkansas gives up 151 yards per game rushing, which is 8th in the SEC. Somewhat surprisingly, the Razorbacks are very good against opponents when they try to throw the ball. The Razorbacks give up just 196 yards passing per game, which is 3rd-best in the SEC.

Alabama will test that, of course.

If the Razorbacks can at least slow down Alabama in the passing game, then the Crimson Tide may have to take advantage of open running lanes. Bama is certainly capable of doing that, but each carry comes with concern. The Crimson Tide has suffered a rash of injuries at tailback and have little depth at the position. The last thing Alabama needs is another injury.

In a perfect world for Bama, the Crimson Tide will be able to throw the ball efficiently and — more importantly — explosively against Arkansas. In that ideal scenario, Alabama will be able to get an early lead, rotate players and let some unproven tailbacks carry the load in the second half and run out the clock. However, if there is one thing we’ve learned this season, it’s that Alabama isn’t perfect. They’re still a team with young players in key positions. That youth had better not show up this week or anytime soon. If so, the committee may be forced to leave Alabama out of this season’s playoff. They’ve clearly shown that is not what they want to do.