Alabama Crimson Tide Or Ohio State Buckeyes: The CFP Committee’s Worst Nightmare

Three of the four College Football Championship Playoff spots are set in stone. It will be Clemson, Oklahoma, and Georgia. The fourth slot, not so much, and it will be torture. It will either be the Alabama Crimson Tide or the Ohio State Buckeyes, and it has become the CFP Committee’s worst nightmare come true.

For some background, the 13-member committee includes five former coaches and five athletic-director types, and three outside dignitaries. They have spent last night, and will all this morning in what one would call hell. The committee has to know the whole three months of strain and the coveted final playoff spot have distilled to an argument between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

There’s no right answer. There’s no wrong answer. One gigantic fan base will get in, the other gigantic fan base will become angry. The argument will persist for years, with no solution. It could be a threat to destroy evenings on debating one supposedly simple slot. General chaos might have been fun; this little pocket of chaos is craziness.

Here are the facts. Alabama (11-1) has the better record. Ohio State (11-2) has the better wins. Ohio State has the conference championship, Alabama does not. Alabama never got throttled at home or annihilated in Iowa City, but Ohio State did. Ohio State never won their rivalry game, Alabama did not. Alabama held down No. 5 last week but didn’t play. Ohio State held down No. 8 but defeated No. 4 Wisconsin, 27-21, in the Big Ten championship game. There has never been a two-loss team or a team that suffered any annihilation at any time, in the playoff; now, the playoff might get both.

It seemed the committee’s choice was going to be simple. Oklahoma handled their business in the Big 12 Championship. Georgia handled their business in the SEC Championship. Clemson handled their business in the ACC Championship. However, once the Big 10 Championship game was over, the simple solution was thrown out the door.

If the committee measures out the wins from during this past season, it will be like looking for a needle in a haystack to decide the fourth team. Ohio State will have beaten teams ranked No. 6 (Wisconsin, neutral site), No. 9 (Penn State, at home) and No. 16 (Michigan State, at home).

Meanwhile, the Alabama Crimson Tide will have beaten teams ranked No. 17 (LSU, at home) and No. 23 (Mississippi State, on the road in a howling din). Alabama will have beaten six bowl teams and one with a self-imposed bowl ban; Ohio State will have beaten four bowl teams. Alabama’s nine Power Five victims have a record of 53-54; Ohio State’s first eight were at 46-50 before Wisconsin ratcheted it to 58-51.

It’s at this point where the committee may make their decision based on the following. When Alabama faced Florida State, they played the number three team in the nation. The Seminoles’ quarterback, Deondre Francois, went down with a season-ending knee injury, and their season spiraled to a 6-6 mark.  Also, even though they defeated LSU, you have to wonder if the Tigers’ loss to Troy early in the season may become a factor in the committee’s thinking. Then again, although Ohio State lost to Oklahoma (a good loss one would say), they suffered that complete drubbing to the Iowa Hawkeyes, who finished their season 7-5.

There is a precedent set by the committee in 2016 when they took a non-conference team over a conference champion. So, who was that team one would ask? Hence, it was the Ohio State Buckeyes. In the end, the committee has a long, hard choice to make. They are in a pickle, and this time, it is a hellish pickle which probably not even a flask of whiskey can fix. Roll Tide or O-H-IO??? We shall find out soon enough.


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Nick Ficorelli

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