Alabama Football: ESPN projects Tide with 6th-best chance to make Playoff

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

There are two big questions on the minds of Alabama football fans this week. One supersedes the other and that is will the Crimson Tide beat the Georgia Bulldogs. The secondary question is also a matter of considerable import. What are the odds that Alabama Football will make the CFB Playoff final four?

There is a wide range of opinions on each question. Many opinions are driven by passions for and against the Crimson Tide. Some opinions carry claims drawn from facts. The reality is no one knows what will happen and computer algorithm projections may well provide the best insight.

According to ESPN computer projections the Alabama Crimson Tide has a 47.9% chance to beat the Georgia Bulldogs and win the SEC Championship. Though not presented in a percentage, Jeff Sagarin’s Team Ratings indicate only the slightest difference between the two teams. Sagarin has Georgia as college football’s No. 3 team, with a rating of 94.62, with Alabama as the No. 5 team with a rating of 94.35.

Per Sagarin, on a neutral field, Georgia is less than a half of a point favorite over the Crimson Tide. If Atlanta’s proximity to Athens gives the Dawgs another point or two advantage is not known.

Alabama Football and Playoff Chances

ESPN’s Playoff projections may or may not provide accuracy. The algorithm has never been fully explained. As of Sunday night, ESPN’s calculation of the top eight Playoff contenders is listed below.

  • Michigan Wolverines – 93.1%
  • Oregon Ducks – 69.8%
  • Florida State Seminoles – 69.7%
  • Georgia Bulldogs – 56.2%
  • Texas Longhorns – 48.1%
  • Alabama Crimson Tide – 28.4%
  • Washington Huskies – 26%
  • Ohio State Buckeyes – 8.6%

Using ESPN’s Playoff Predictor with a scenario of Alabama, Michigan, Texas, Florida State and Oregon becoming the Power Five conference champions, the Crimson Tide ends up on the outside looking in – as do the Georgia Bulldogs.

ESPN also projects the chance of those five teams becoming the Power Five Champions at 22%.

What if anything do the projections mean?

Most importantly what they mean to everyone inside the Alabama Football program is nothing, nada, zero. If Nick Saban had the time and inclination to rank them on a list of hypotheticals, computer projections would be one of his worst sources of meaningless clutter.

Computers, even with the best-designed algorithms do not win or lose games. The Crimson Tide’s full focus will be on beating Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs. What follows carries no weight this week in Tuscaloosa.

A question Alabama football fans would like answered by ESPN is how if at all, their algorithm calculates expected decision-making by the Selection Committee. As in, does the algorithm adjust for FSU not having its starting quarterback for the Playoff?