Ultimately, where Alabama stands right now in the eyes of the committee doesn't really matter. The message is simple at this point: win and you're in.
If Alabama upsets No. 1 Georgia on Saturday, they will be in the top four of the College Football Playoff final rankings that will be released on Sunday. But until then, Tuesday night offered the penultimate rankings from the committee before conference championship weekend.
The Crimson Tide came in at No. 3 in this week's rankings after a come-from-behind, quadruple overtime win at Auburn in the Iron Bowl. The offense looked dreadful for most of the game, but Bryce Young was able to lead Alabama on a 97-yard drive to tie the game with 24 seconds left before ultimately winning 24-22 in the fourth overtime.
Committee chairman Gary Barta said that Alabama was ranked ahead of undefeated Cincinnati because Alabama has better quality wins than the Bearcats.
Barta also mentioned that Brian Kelly's departure from Notre Dame to LSU could impact the Fighting Irish's position in the final rankings. Since they are not affiliated with a conference, Notre Dame, who is currently ranked No. 6, will not play this weekend and cannot independently affect their resumé.
"Winning a conference championship is an additional part of our protocol that the committee follows when we put together our rankings," Barta said. "It's a reminder -- it's not the only factor we consider but it is an important piece of information. And obviously we'll be able to review that for the first time once the champ games are all done."
Georgia has been ranked No. 1 in every rendition of the 2021 CFP rankings and will likely still be in the playoffs even if they lost to Alabama on Saturday.
Right now, Alabama's best win is over No. 8 Ole Miss. It also has a win over No. 22 Arkansas. The one team that has beaten the Crimson Tide so far, Texas A&M, is ranked 25th by the committee.
Full College Football Playoff Rankings
5. Oklahoma State
6. Notre Dame
7. Ohio State
8. Ole Miss
11. Michigan State
16. Wake Forest
18. NC State
19. San Diego State
25. Texas A&M