Tuesday night’s College Football Playoff rankings didn’t come with many surprises. The top four reamains unchanged. Alabama, Clemson, and Notre Dame will be in if they win out. The fourth spot will most likely come down to a battle between the Michigan-Ohio State winner and the eventual Big 12 champion. A second “Armageddon” scenario, envisioned by ESPN’s Kirk herbstreit last night, is also possible and it includes Georgia shocking the masses by knocking off the Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game.
I will respectfully disagree with Herbstreit. An Alabama loss to Georgia would be unexpected but, it seems obvious what the committee would do. Undefeated Clemson would be in. Undefeated Notre Dame would be in. SEC champion Georgia would be in. And Alabama would get the fourth spot over Michigan. Wolverines fans won’t like to hear that. But is the committee really going to sit there at the end of the year and say Nick Saban’s side is not one of the four best — and most deserving in the country?
I sincerely doubt it. Michigan’s path to the playoff is to win out and hope for a loss by either Clemson, Notre Dame, or Georgia. Yes, the Irish won the head-to-head but the bodies of works won’t require that data point, at least in my humble opinion.
If an Armegeddon scenario exists, it’s as follows:
- Clemson loss
- Notre Dame loss
- Ohio State wins Big Ten
- Oklahoma wins out, captures Big 12
- Washington State wins out, captures Pac-12
- Georgia beats Alabama in SEC title game
That would leave zero undefeated teams, and six one-loss squads jockeying for the four spots. What then?
My guess: the two SEC teams would be in, with Georgia at No. 1 and Alabama at No. 2. Then it gets extremely messy. Put me down for Oklahoma at No. 3 and Ohio State at No. 4 as the committee falls back on the safety of conference crowns to inform their decision.
Put another way, out of the playoff hopefuls, only Alabama can afford to lose. Clemson would have the next-best chance to sustain a defeat but would then require some help.