Alabama stuns Georgia, wins SEC title, and leaves playoff selection committee in a pinch
Alabama, Florida State, and Texas are waiting for an answer. One of these three teams will not make the College Football Playoff. Whichever is left out will have every right to be angry, and in the case of two, their absence in the CFP would be unprecedented. Number eight Alabama was the agent of chaos Saturday, upsetting number one Georgia for the Southeastern Conference title and ending the two-time defending national champ's 29-game winning streak. Michigan and Washington appear safe. The final four-team College Football Playoff is poised to be the most controversial yet.
"Georgia was No. 1, right? You beat the number one team, what does that make us?" Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe told reporters.
If only it was so simple.
The final four-team College Football Playoff is poised to be the most controversial yet. Is it too late to fast forward to next year's expansion and implement the 12-team format? The CFP selection committee might wish that was possible right about now as its sorts through a crowded field of contenders at a resort hotel in Grapevine, Texas.
That leaves two spots for the Southeastern Conference champion (Alabama) or the team that beat the SEC champion (Big 12 champion Texas) or an Atlantic Coast Conference champion (Florida State) that lost its star quarterback to injury, but still hasn't lost a game.
If Alabama is left out, it will be the first CFP in its 10-year history without at least one SEC team.
If Florida State is left out it will be the first unbeaten Power Five champion to be passed over. Rarely in the previous nine years the national champion has been decided by a four-team playoff has the bracket failed to fall into place with little debate.
In 2014, Ohio State vaulted over Baylor and TCU and into the playoff with a Big Ten title game blowout of Wisconsin. The Big 12 teams still haven't gotten over it, but the Buckeyes proved it was a justifiable decision by winning it all.
Ohio State has been on the short end a couple of times, too. But this year, the committee could be facing a truly vexing problem or two.
But this year, the best teams just kept winning. There were no big upsets. There were no bad losses. The top eight teams in the country, including No. 6 Ohio State, finished 97-6. Five of those six losses were to other top-eight teams. The other loss was Texas falling to No. 12 Oklahoma.
Last season, TCU lost its conference title game and made the playoff and Ohio State didn't even make it to the Big Ten championship and both managed to make the field.
This year, Georgia's attempt to become the first team in college football's poll era to win three straight national titles appears to be over after a three-point loss to Nick Saban's Tide.
Over the last three seasons, Georgia is 40-0 against not-Alabama and 1-2 against Alabama.
The first two Power Five conference title games of championship Saturday only served to increase the chances of creating tough choices for the selection committee.
The SEC is facing a potential predicament it never has before, getting shut out of an event its teams have won six times looks like a possibility — no matter what its commissioner thinks.
Without Travis, both Alabama and Texas (and Georgia for that matter) can claim that they should be in over the 'Noles. Perfect record bedamned.
"The criteria is not to put the undefeated teams in the four-team playoff," Sankey said.
The CFP's protocol describes the selection committee's mission as both simple and vague: Pick the four best teams.
The job has never been tougher.