After focusing on the NFL for most of the season, while doing my work on college football and watching all the games in the background, I decided to take a look at the next two weeks and how they will impact the race for the national championship. Now heading into rivalry week and the ensuing conference championship games, I wanted to go through different game results and how they could affect the playoff picture, plus a prediction of what I think will ultimately happen.
We have seen the committee show a lot of inconsistency and rank teams specifically to push those ones they are putting higher than the AP or Coaches Poll. So nothing is impossible at this point, but here is what I would think depending on how the following games turn out.
#1 Alabama blows out Auburn in the Iron Bowl
War Eagle is the highest-ranked three-loss team in the country at No.15, because they have probably had the toughest schedule in the country. They started the season with a matchup against the 11th-ranked Oregon Ducks – which they won – and then they have gone to Texas A&M, Florida and LSU before hosting Georgia two weeks ago.
And their three losses have come by an average of less than a touchdown. So going there for this rivalry should be a big test for the Crimson Tide with Tua out for the season, after a gimmie against the Western Carolina Catamounts, whose only game against an FBS team came in a 41-0 loss to N.C. State.
Mac Jones has looked pretty good in mop-up duty late in games and in his only other start versus Arkansas, but we have yet to see him go up against any competent defense, much less one of the best ones in the country in Auburn’s. With that being said, Alabama is so talented at the skill positions that it might just be enough.
Najee Harris has been running all over defenders like a mad truck these last few weeks and they throw a bunch of quick screens to their arsenal of receivers. Nick Saban’s defense is what I am more concerned about because they have not even been close to anything they were in the last decade, which was most obvious when they gave up 46 points to LSU at home, and Gus Malzahn seems to always create problems for them with unique formations and trick plays.
If Bama loses this game they are obviously out of the mix, but even if they win a nail-biter, they are far from being a shoo-in for the playoff. If Georgia wins the SEC, I can’t see the committee putting the Tide in favor of LSU, who already beat them in Tuscaloosa, and a one-loss Pac-12 champion in Utah might have a bigger argument as well.
The only way this group has a decent shot at being among the final four is by winning the Iron Bowl in decisive fashion.