Projecting the CFP Rankings and What It'll Mean to Alabama

Alabama Athletics
Christopher Walsh

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Orange, Cotton, Sugar or Citrus. Each bowl remains a possibility. 

About the only thing Alabama knows for sure is that it won't be playing until at least Dec. 28. 

However, it'll get a good idea of where when the latest College Football Playoff rankings are announced tonight.

The key for Alabama is how far it drops, especially in relation to Florida. The Gators defeated rival Florida State 49-17 last week, although the Seminoles had already dismissed Willie Taggart as head coach. 

The polls have Florida ahead of Alabama, with both the AP Top 25 and the coaches placing the Gators at No. 7 and the Crimson Tide ninth.

However, that's unlikely to happen with the selection committee. 

Last week it had Florida 11th, behind Minnesota, Baylor and Penn State. Granted, the Gophers lost to Wisconsin, but Baylor and Penn State both managed to avoid upsets against Kansas and Rutgers, respectively. 

In most years, a win over Florida State could mean a significant jump in the rankings, but not this one. 

The guess here is that the committee will slide Alabama between 11-1 Baylor and Penn State. The Nittany Lions lost to then No. 2 Ohio State and No. 17 Minnesota  so we're splitting hairs here, but it may not matter. 

Here's what it means for the Crimson Tide:

If LSU beats Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, the Tigers go on to the playoff.

The next slots to be filled would be the contract bowls including the Rose, Orange and Sugar. In this scenario Georgia would go to the Sugar Bowl and Penn State to the Rose Bowl, although it's not guaranteed.

Here's why: Per the Rose Bowl selection process, "Should a team from the Big Ten or Pac-12 be selected to go to the College Football Playoff, the Tournament of Roses will traditionally select the next-highest CFP-ranked team from that conference. There is, however, a caveat to that clause in the contract.

“If the next-highest ranked team is in a ‘cluster’ of teams, meaning there is another team or teams from the same conference ranked within several spots of each other, the Tournament of Roses will select the team from that cluster that will result in the best possible matchup for the Rose Bowl Game,” said Rose Bowl Management Committee Chair Scott Jenkins.

Regardless, the Orange Bowl would subsequently be obligated to take the highest-ranked non-champion team from the Big Ten and SEC, assuming they're ranked higher than Notre Dame, to face an opponent from the ACC. 

That would be Alabama. Otherwise the Crimson Tide would slide to the next game on the priority list, the Cotton Bowl — probably against Memphis. 

Should Georgia beat LSU, both would likely be in the playoff and Alabama, assuming it's ranked higher than Florida, goes to the Sugar Bowl — against either Baylor or Oklahoma.  

If for some reason Florida is ranked higher than Alabama the Crimson Tide could slide all the way to the Citrus Bowl and the committee would have some serious explaining to do.  

Projected CFP Top 25 

1 Ohio State (19) 12-0

2 LSU (40) 12-0 

3 Clemson (3) 12-0 

4 Georgia 11-1 

5 Utah 11-1 

6 Oklahoma 11-1 

7 Baylor 11-1 

8 Alabama 10-2

9 Penn State 10-2 

10 Florida 10-2 

11 Wisconsin 10-2 

12 Oregon 10-2 

13 Auburn 9-3 

14 Minnesota 10-2 

15 Notre Dame 10-2

16 Michigan 9-3 

17 Iowa 9-3 

18 Memphis 11-1 

19 Cincinnati 10-2 

20 Boise State 11-1 

21 Southern California 8-4 

22 Appalachian State 11-1

23 Virginia 9-3 

24 Navy 9-2 

25 Air Force 10-2