The penultimate version of the college football playoffs was bittersweet for Alabama.
The Tide fell out of the top four after their 26-14 Iron Bowl loss at Auburn, but only outside at No. 5. Alabama's opponents in their two best wins this season – LSU and Mississippi State – both They remained in the ranking in 17th and 23rd respectively. Alabama has another victory over an opponent rated Fresno State, revived by first-year coach Jeff Tedford, made his qualifying debut at No. 25 (the Bulldogs visit Boise State in the Mountain West championship game this week) .
(All the time ET)
• 9 a.m.-noon: Championship Drive Presented by Northwestern Mutual (ESPN2)
• 12:00 a.m. 4:00 pm.: Presentation of college football Playoff selection presented by AT & T (ESPN)
• 6 pm-8 pm.: SEC Now: Bowl Special (SEC Network)
• 6 pm-8 : 30 pm.: Championship Drive Presented by Capital One (ESPN2)
• 8:30 pm-11 pm.: Championship Drive: Who's in Presented by Capital One (ESPN)
This board looks really sweet to Alabama. So, what is bitter?
As Tide pbades the SEC championship on Saturday at home for the first time since 2013, they will be forced to search for their most hated opponent: the Auburn Tigers. Auburn climbed to No. 2 after beating Georgia and Alabama in a span of three weeks. The committee clearly values what Auburn has done lately, placing the Tigers of two losses ahead of undefeated Wisconsin (now at No. 4) and an Oklahoma team with a defeat with wins over Ohio State, TCU and Oklahoma State. .
So Auburn is an excellent loss for Alabama. The Tide, painful as it is, wants to keep it that way. A Georgia victory over Auburn in Atlanta slightly devalued Alabama's defeat in the Plains, and a win at Auburn strengthens Tide's case to be in the top four.
If pulling to Auburn is not uncomfortable enough for Alabama fans, they should also root for Ohio State this weekend. They need a place in the top four to clear, and unless TCU defeats Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game, a favorite Buckeyes victory over Wisconsin No. 4 in the Big Ten championship is Tide's best bet.
Ohio State can not feel good about its postseason opportunities after Tuesday's ranking. If the Buckeyes beat Wisconsin, they would have three victories: No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 9 Penn State and No. 16 Michigan State, stronger than Alabama's best victory, but the committee clearly doubts because of the 31 points from Ohio State. route defeat in Iowa, which ended 7-5.
If it's Ohio State vs. Alabama for the final place, the Buckeyes may need a crush similar to 2014 at Wisconsin in Indianapolis, plus a Georgia win over Auburn, to get the nod over Nick Saban's team. And to be sure, the Buckeyes should also root Clemson, the team that humiliated them in the semifinals of last year's playoffs, to beat No. 7 Miami in the ACC championship.
The committee clearly loves Clemson's profile, which includes big profits both at home and on the road. Even NC State surreptitiously entering the ranking in 24th position helps Clemson, who won in Raleigh on November 4. If Clemson loses a game close to Miami, would the committee consider putting the Tigers ahead of the Big Ten Ohio State champion? It can not be ruled out.
If Tuesday was bad for Ohio State, it was worse for TCU, which has never had much echo on the committee this year. The frogs climbed only one place at n. 11. Even if they beat n. 3 of Oklahoma, would need complete chaos to advance to the first four places. The committee is still a bit depressed in the Big 12, for whatever reason.
Another loser on Tuesday night was UCF, who also climbed a spot to No. 14 despite his best win of the season on Friday against the USF. Complaints from Mike Aresco, commissioner of AAC, clearly did not help, and UCF athletic director Danny White expressed his displeasure after qualifying. UCF is a great team that will win a New Year's position if it beats the No. 20 Memphis this weekend, but it must be disheartening to have 11-0 and behind Stanford with three losses, which climbed to number 13 after its win Notre Dame. Coach Scott Frost adores him at UCF, but the reality of the rankings provides another reason why he has to take a Power 5 job this year, most likely at his alma mater, Nebraska.
It has been thought that the Pac-12 is out of the race, and the clbadifications on Tuesday did not change the view. USC climbed to a place at No. 10, but a second victory over Stanford will probably not move Clay Helton's team much in the final standings.
Miami justifiably dropped five spots to No. 7 this week after its defeat on Friday at 4-7 Pitt. The profile of the Canes seemed to be overrated before the Pitt game, and the defeat of Notre Dame by 18 points against Stanford, and the subsequent fall from the 8th place to the No. 15, does not help the U. The good news is that if Miami defeats Clemson in the game for the ACC title, he will reach the postseason.
The final standings are only five days away, and after several boring championship weekends, we finally have an exciting list of team games with everything in the line. Alabama is encouraging Auburn and the state of Ohio. The state of Ohio is encouraging Clemson.