There’s a doomsday scenario that has the college football world buzzing.
I won’t lie. It’s intriguing. It would definitely prompt more debate than we’ve ever seen come Selection Sunday. Do I think it’ll happen? No. But am I going to dissect it endlessly as if it’s going to happen? Sure. What else do I have to do?
If you haven’t seen this scenario, here it is: Undefeated Alabama loses to 1-loss Georgia in the SEC Championship, and basically, all hell breaks lose.
Only 4 teams can get in:
- 12-1 Alabama
- 12-1 Georgia (w/ SEC Championship)
- 12-1 Michigan (w/ Big Ten Championship)
- 12-1 Oklahoma (w/ Big 12 Championship)
- 13-0 Clemson (w/ ACC Championship)
- 12-0 Notre Dame
Again, it won’t happen. It’s still early November. It never happens like this.
So who gets left out in that scenario? My guess is Michigan and Oklahoma. A lot of people would say that the only nonconference champ with a loss (Alabama) should be left out. I’d disagree with that.
That’s because after what we saw the Tide do Saturday night in Baton Rouge, nobody deserves to have a loss to give more than Nick Saban’s squad. That’s not because it won a national title last year despite the fact that it neither won its conference or even its division.
This is about résumé. Right now, Alabama’s dominant win at LSU is a major trump card. No team in America has a better win. Period. I’d argue that because it was a true road game, no conference championship outside of Georgia taking down Alabama would be a better résumé-boosting victory.
I realize this is even strange to talk about considering we have yet to see a 1-loss Power 5 conference champ get left out of the field. You’ll notice that I didn’t even include Washington State in that discussion because with how awful the nonconference slate was, I don’t think the selection committee would reward the Cougars instead of any of those aforementioned teams.
But 1-loss Alabama is the team that can be favored ahead of a 1-loss conference champ for a variety of reasons.
The fact that the Tide came in at No. 1 before the LSU game shows that the selection committee was amazed by the level of dominance in the first 2 months. As it should have been. We’re talking about a team that has won every game by at least 22 points, 6 of which were against Power 5 teams (before LSU). Forget the cupcakes. Alabama is +243 in 7 games against Power 5 teams this year. That 2016 team — widely considered one of the most dominant ever up to the title game — was +233 in 9 games vs. Power 5 teams going into the SEC Championship.
Perspective is key with all of this. Remember 2001 Miami? Some believe it was the best team of all-time. That group had an average margin of victory of 33.1 points vs. Power 5 teams (the Big East wasn’t the SEC, either). What about 2004 USC? That group was only at 22.4.
Alabama is at 34.7. You’d probably have to go back to 1995 Nebraska to find a team more dominant.
That’s worth something. When you consistently beat Power 5 teams like a drum — even better if they’re ranked and on the road — the selection committee notices. Not to pick on Notre Dame, but beating Vanderbilt by 5 at home isn’t the look of a Playoff team. Going into Death Valley and pitching a 29-0 shutout is.
Don’t tell me that margin of victory is useless. It’s part of it. There’s a reason that Saban said after the LSU game that his team wanted to “make a statement” to those who were questioning their schedule. In the biggest game of the college football season, his team did just that.
The loudest possible statement that Michigan can make is going into Columbus and dropping the hammer on the Buckeyes. It would be a loud statement just to win, but would it be like what Alabama did at LSU? Given the flaws of an Ohio State team that isn’t very battle-tested — unlike LSU — I’d say it’s not. And Michigan won’t move the needle by beating Northwestern in the B1G Championship.
Remember that we’re talking about a scenario in which Alabama, Michigan and Oklahoma all have 1 loss. With Alabama potentially able to rack up at least 2 more wins vs. ranked foes (assuming 1 of 3 potential Top 25 matchups is a loss), it’s not like we’ll be talking about LSU as its lone quality win. Either way, that’ll still count for a whole lot considering the committee had the 1-loss Tigers ranked ahead of unbeaten Notre Dame.
Alabama already disproved the notion that a November loss is a Playoff death sentence, and the fact that teams with losses to mediocre opponents have still made it in should squash any notion that a stunning loss to a ranked Mississippi State team would be a deal-breaker.
So yeah, let’s cool it on that before it starts.
This is all a conversation worth having because of last year. Last year, Saban had to sweat out watching his team lose 1 game and sit idle without a chance to improve the Tide’s résumé in the final weekend. That’ll be different this year. That much we know.
What we don’t know yet is what an Alabama earthquake would register on the Playoff Richter scale. Better yet, we don’t know if an Alabama earthquake is coming at all. Nothing suggests that’ll happen before the Playoff field is announced.
But earthquakes come when you least expect them. They’re brief, stunning and can leave a lasting impact.
Call me crazy, but I can’t imagine one earthquake demolishing the mansion that Alabama built so far.