I'm here to tell you this: Alabama should not receive a College Football Playoff berth — no matter what happens the rest of the season.
As mentioned above, the only school to ever qualify for the playoff after not appearing in its conference championship game was Ohio State, and the Buckeyes squandered that opportunity by losing 31-0 against Clemson in 2016. Heck, Troy played Clemson tougher that year, only losing 30-24 against the Tigers.
And that leads to my next point. Of the top seven teams in the country, only one squad has a less impressive signature win than Alabama.
No. 3 Wisconsin’s best win on its resume was beating Michigan, a hapless 8-4 squad. However, the Badgers are undefeated and therefore deserve a spot, if that remains the case.
Meanwhile, Alabama’s two best wins were against No. 17 LSU and No. 24 Mississippi State. Yes, this is that same LSU team that lost to the aforementioned Troy Trojans at home. Mississippi State didn’t fare much better this season, finishing 8-4 and losing to a 6-6 Ole Miss squad in the season finale.
Now, if No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Auburn win this weekend, the Crimson Tide should have no shot of making the playoff, as all four teams are ranked higher.
However, arguments can be made if some of the above teams lose.
If Clemson loses to No. 7 Miami in the ACC Championship game, the Hurricanes should still make it in before Alabama. The Hurricanes have just one loss, like Alabama, but will have beaten more quality opponents (with a win over Clemson), with wins coming against the top-ranked Tigers, then-No. 3 Notre Dame, and then-No. 13 Virginia Tech. Not to mention, the Hurricanes will have won their conference championship while Alabama players are watching their conference championship on television.
If No. 6 Georgia beats Auburn in the SEC Championship game, the same argument can be made. The Bulldogs will have beaten the team that knocked off Alabama, as well as defeating Notre Dame and Mississippi State.
The wildcards here are Oklahoma and Wisconsin. If either the Sooners or Badgers fall, a spot could open up for Alabama. But even if both teams lose in their last game, No. 10 TCU and No. 8 Ohio State should leap over Alabama because they both won their respective conferences.
Yes, Alabama would have one less loss than TCU and OSU. But, they will have also played one less game than either school.
In some ways, not playing in its championship benefits Alabama because the Crimson Tide cannot lose this week. And being out of your conference championship game should not help a team.
With these four (ACC, SEC, Big 10 and Big 12) conference championship games — each with the potential to decide post-season standing — to be played this week, all eyes will be glued to television sets across the country.
By Sunday, the College Football Playoff will be set.
And, if the committee does its job correctly, Alabama will be sitting on the proverbial sidelines for the first time in the four-year playoff era.