Alabama Football: Fourth Playoff Ranking still cluttered through top seven

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Alabama football held serve at No. 5 in the fourth Playoff Ranking. What clues can be found in the clutter around the top seven teams?

With two weeks of games to be played, there is an argument too much clutter exits to draw conclusions. Not many Alabama football fans are satisfied with that perspective. Every Tide fan wants to see a clear path – a statement win over Auburn and LSU beats Georgia and the Crimson Tide is the fourth team.

There is no guarantee it is that simple. The clutter referenced above may need to create some chaos to ensure the Alabama Crimson Tide again makes the final four.

The fourth and current Selection Committee rankings left the Crimson Tide at No. 5. The top two flipped with Ohio State now at No. 1 and LSU at No. 2. Clemson and Georgia held position at No. 3 and No. 4. Unsurprisingly, Utah was No. 6, followed by Oklahoma at No. 7. That should constitute the potential, chaos zone of the rankings. But the Selection Committee is so obviously enamored with Penn State (No. 10) that Minnesota at No. 8 still appears to be a Playoff threat.

Some Alabama football fans are content to just focus on the outcome of the Auburn game, leaving Playoff worries until Saturday night. Nick Saban would doubtless agree. If only life could be so simple. The Alabama Crimson Tide cannot just beat the Auburn Tigers. To secure a Playoff spot (along with some help from LSU) Alabama football needs a statement win over the Tigers. How much of a statement? We have said for several days, a double-digit win is needed and two touchdowns would be far better.

After explaining the flip of Ohio State and LSU on Tuesday night, Committee Chair, Rob Mullens laid out what is needed for a conference non-champion to be seeded above a Power Five Conference Champion. We can be more specific. If either Utah or Oklahoma is a one-loss Conference Champion, Alabama football must convince the Committee it is “unequivocally” the better team. Mullens directly stated every member of the Committee would have to agree.

If the threshold in the sixth and final ranking vote – is 13 out of 13 Committee members deciding the Tide is better – no small win over Auburn will do.

Perhaps enough chaos will ensue, making that final decision easier for the Committee. Oklahoma could lose or be unimpressive again against Oklahoma State and/or the Baylor rematch. Utah may not win the Pac 12 Championship game. Even if the Utes do, Oklahoma is the greater threat to the Crimson Tide.

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A side note on the ESPN broadcast of the new rankings. Through about 95 percent of the ‘show’ there were repeated, and obviously coordinated, statements about why the Tide’s chances are “razor-thin.” Only near the end was a small counter-argument made about a Tide statement win over Auburn. Maybe they all think the Tide cannot make the field this year. Or maybe, they were playing to a Bama-fatigued college football nation. Or maybe it was both.