Alabama's Playoff Chances Trending Upward
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama football team has known for a while that it would need help in order to make the College Football Playoff this season.
On Saturday, it got some.
With both No. 6 Oregon losing at Arizona State 31-28, and No. 8 Penn State falling at No. 2 Ohio State, 28-17, the Crimson Tide no longer has to worry about either school potentially leapfrogging it by winning its conference championship.
That's not to say that it can't happen, or not with another school, but it's not as plausible. The CFP selection committee hasn't been overly impressed with either No. 7 Utah or No. 9 Oklahoma even though both will obviously move up this week.
Despite being without injured quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (hip), Alabama defeated Western Carolina 66-3 on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide's spot in a semifinal may be as simple as this: Beat Auburn next week and No. 4 Georgia takes another loss.
Although the Bulldogs have played a monster schedule this season, they haven't been overly impressive down the stretch. Saturday, Georgia held on at home on to defeat unranked Texas A&M, 19-13.
Georgia has two games to play, both in Atlanta. Next week it's at Georgia Tech (3-8), followed by the SEC Championship Game. No. 1 LSU clinched the SEC West on Saturday.
Should Georgia win out, the selection committee would almost certainly keep LSU ahead of Alabama due to the Tigers' 46-41 victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Nov. 9.
LSU hosts Texas A&M next week. Last year the teams played to a 74-72 final in seven overtimes.
All this assumes that No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Clemson win out as well.
The Buckeyes visit No. 13 Michigan next week and followed by the winner of No. 12 Wisconsin at No. 10 Minnesota in the Big Ten Championship Game — meaning Ohio State will be facing three top-15 opponents in as many weeks.
Clemson visits South Carolina next week followed by the winner of Virginia Tech at Virginia in the ACC Championship Game. The Tigers are currently the league's lone ranked team. \
Even if it's just to be on the safe side, Alabama fans should continue to root the against one-loss teams ranked in the top 10.
Utah has to win against Colorado next week to play Oregon in the Pac-12 title game.
Oklahoma travels to Oklahoma State for its Bedlam rivalry game, followed by a rematch with Baylor in the Big 12 title game. The Sooners squeaked out a 34-31 victory in Waco last week, and one has to believe the Bears will be eager for another shot.
The next playoff rankings are set to be released Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT.
The CFP semifinals are set for Dec. 28 at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta and the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.