Alabama has one fall to make last four, analyst says

Tuesday night’s college football playoff rankings put Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan and TCU in the same top four as the four teams, while LSU and USC were the top two. However, the Alabama Crimson Tide were ranked 7th, 9-2 overall, and FOX Sports’ Colin Cowherd made the case for Alabama sneaking into the playoffs despite not playing for an SEC championship.

“Bama can still come in,” Cowherd said Wednesday. “Why not? Two close losses, both to good teams, both away, both at the buzzer. They would be favored over every single team above them except Georgia and maybe Ohio State. But I think they would be on a neutral pitch to the Ohio state are preferred the reality is georgia has a chance to roll LSU bye bye michigan will fall behind ohio state have to happen they can’t and could be beaten by ohio state see you michigan usc after his biggest emotional win in eight to nine years is facing a rising Notre Dame. Could they lose? Yes, see you. TCU wouldn’t even need to lose, although they won tight game after tight game after tight game and certainly could lose. But Alabama, the nightmare scenario nobody wants to admit the Final Four is Georgia, Ohio State, TCU and Bama. Now let’s say Michigan lost super, played super close in overtime against Ohio State, maybe they would go three, lose to go four. But generally if there are three of you and you lose, you’re out.”

Ideally, the path to the playoffs for Alabama is when Georgia and Ohio State win and take the top two spots. Michigan could be 11-1 on the outside without a conference championship game.

“Nobody wants to mention that Bama also has an advantage,” Cowherd said. “If you count everything and I count schedules, TCU played a ridiculous non-conference schedule. They played something called Tarleton State. I have no idea and I love the sport. Michigan played Hawaii. Alabama went to Texas… Outside of Georgia, Georgia would be preferred over Alabama, I’m guessing five or six points. Ohio State is a coin toss. I would make Alabama a 1.5 point favorite. I guess I could be totally wrong but they would be favored over Michigan, TCU, LSU. Yes, LSU beat them in the last game at Baton Rouge. If it’s in Tuscaloosa, they don’t win this game. I love USC but I think they are a better story as a team right now. It’s pretty much a two-headed monster of a brilliant trainer Lincoln Riley and an incredibly talented quarterback in Caleb Williams.”

TCU losing a game, whether it’s the season finale against Iowa State or the Big 12 title game, would likely knock out the Horned Frogs. Fourth place would be up for grabs between Michigan, Alabama and USC should the Trojans win and finish 12-1 as Pac-12 champions. But a USC loss would likely knock the team out.

“I criticized (Nick) Saban for years for not taking to the streets to play a game outside of the conference,” Cowherd said. “I tore him up for years. This year he did, so I’d be a hypocrite not to give him credit. That win in Texas means something and I have no problem losing to LSU and Tennessee on the buzzer on the road. They are really good teams.”

In the event that there are two spots open for Michigan, Alabama and USC, a case must be found for a 10-2 Crimson Tide roster that narrowly lost to LSU and Tennessee.

Should TCU come in, like Cowherd’s example of Georgia, Ohio State and TCU in the top three, last place will likely end up being 11-1 Michigan and 10-2 Alabama if USC isn’t in the know. The committee would likely weigh the strength of the schedule, particularly the non-conference list for both.

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The other factor not mentioned by the FOX Sports host is whether Clemson wins and finishes 12-1 as the ACC champion. The Tigers are currently 8th in the rankings and would certainly have an argument to sneak back in as well.