NEW YORK, N.Y.- What a weekend it was in college football. Two of the initial top four teams in the College Football Playoff went down, including Minnesota upsetting Penn State and LSU defeating Alabama in the “Game of the Century.” The big question after that SEC clash was: “Where will Alabama land after this loss? Are they still deserving of staying in the top four?”
Ultimately Georgia was slotted fourth this week while the Crimson Tide slipped to fifth to the dismay of many. The committee got it right this week, as they valued impressive wins by Georgia over a close loss to the top team with Alabama.
There is a growing notion that a “good loss” can actually boost your resume when it comes to arguing your case to be one of the final four teams. This can absolutely be true when the sole loss can be paired with a few solid wins. When the biggest brag about a team’s resume is that they lost a close game at home to the number one team in the nation, that shouldn’t trump having wins over ranked opponents.
The biggest indictment for Georgia was their home loss to South Carolina, a team that beat the ‘Dawgs with their third string quarterback and likely will finish the season 4-8. An inexcusable loss for sure, but one game doesn’t tell the entire story of their season. The Bulldogs own two top-10 wins this season, defeating No. 7 Notre Dame at home and No. 6 Florida in Jacksonville. Two wins over highly ranked opponents should definitely outweigh a brutal loss.
Alabama’s resume on the other hand is completely different. They have the best loss by far of any one-loss team when they fell to now top ranked LSU. Outside of that, they have nothing else to lean on. The Tide did beat Texas A&M when the Aggies were ranked No. 24, but have since fell out of the rankings. The only chance ‘Bama has left of notching a ranked win will be in the Iron Bowl at Auburn, who could have three losses if the Tigers fall to Georgia this weekend.
Alabama’s ranking will be a hot button topic for the rest of the season because of their resume, or should I say, lack there of it. Owning the best loss is helpful, but can only take you so far, especially when teams behind the Tide have opportunities to pad their resumes. Oregon and Utah, should they win out, will face each other in the Pac-12 title game and the winner will own a conference title and a win over a top 10 team, neither of which Alabama can claim. Minnesota still has two ranked opponents left on their schedule in Iowa and Wisconsin plus gets a shot at most likely Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship should the Gophers make it. Penn State has a chance to avenge its loss by traveling to Columbus to play the Buckeyes next week. Oklahoma and Baylor play each other this weekend and most likely again for the Big 12 title, helping to boost one of their resumes.
Since the College Football Playoff has been implemented, two teams have made it without winning their own division: 2016 Ohio State and 2017 Alabama. The common dominator with both were their big wins throughout the season as the Buckeyes captured three wins over ranked opponents, including No. 3 Michigan while ‘Bama opened the season with a win over third ranked Florida State and tallied two other wins over ranked opponents. Their impressive victories were the reason they made the final four in those respective seasons, not their “good losses.”
This may seem like I’m just picking on Alabama, but the truth is you could insert any team with the Tide’s resume and the argument would be the same. I understand the eye test is a big component of what the committee factors in when they are judging teams, but the body of work can’t be ignored either. Wins have to matter in college football. If they don’t why are we even playing the games?