Here’s How Alabama Can Make the College Football Playoff 2017—Via Auburn and Ohio State

The College Football Playoff Selection Committee made the only decision available to it on Tuesday night, leaving Alabama looking from the outside in at the top four ahead of the final weekend of the regular season.

The Crimson Tide went on the road to Auburn with a perfect record, and a place in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia on the line. Both vanished at Jordan-Hare Stadium. And the Selection Committee reacted, dropping Nick Saban’s team to fifth in its fifth, and penultimate, rankings for the season. Auburn jumped from fourth to second courtesy of that 26-14 win, while Clemson moved into first place. Oklahoma shifted up from fourth to third. Miami’s bad loss at Pittsburgh sent it tumbling from second to seventh.

The Hurricanes, though, control their own destiny. Beat Clemson in the ACC Championship Game and Miami is almost certainly in the playoffs (and the loser of that is out). The Sooners will be in if they beat TCU for a second time this season in the Big 12 title game at AT&T Stadium.

Neither of those results, whichever way they fall, really help the Tide although the Committee will face some weirdness if Oklahoma loses against TCU. There is hope, though, for Saban in the other two Championship games. “As the Tide spend SEC championship Saturday at home for the first time since 2013, they will be forced to root for their most hated rival: the Auburn Tigers,” Adam Rittenberg wrote for ESPN on Wednesday morning. If that sounds odd then Rittenberg’s logic is simple enough to understand. If Auburn walks off with the SEC Championship then the Tide’s one loss looks much stronger than if Georgia beats the team Alabama lost to one week previously.

That on its own won’t be enough, of course, because of Wisconsin sitting at nNo. 4 in the Selection Committee’s latest rankings. The Badgers’ soft schedule can be quibbled with but an unbeaten season and a Big 12 title will get them in—possibly as the third seed for a Rose Bowl game against Oklahoma, according to Buckys5thquarter, the Badgers blog.

If Ohio State beats Wisconsin to win the Big Ten, though? Then ESPN, for one, thinks the Selection Committee could turn back to the Tide because of the Buckeyes’ blowout at the hands of Iowa on November 4. “If it comes down to Ohio State vs. Alabama for the final spot, the Buckeyes might need a 2014-like smashing of Wisconsin in Indianapolis, plus a Georgia win over Auburn, to get the nod over Nick Saban's team,” Rittenberg writes.

So Alabama needs Auburn to keep Georgia from winning the SEC, and Ohio State to knock Wisconsin out, and then the Selection Committee might have to consider Saban’s one-loss team (and a ‘good’ loss at that, compared to Ohio State’s Iowa shock). This weekend promises to be interesting indeed, even without Alabama playing.

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