It isn’t uncommon for the Alabama Crimson Tide to be the center of controversy. After delivering a thriller 24-21 win over No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs, the Crimson Tide had to wait until Sunday at noon ET to figure out their destination for the postseason. Alabama found itself ranked fourth in the latest college football playoffs polls ahead of an undefeated Florida State team. While this caused much controversy and potentially damaged the spirit of the game, the decision to put Alabama in the top four was correct.
Alabama Took Care of Business Against Georgia
Alabama needed help to get into the College Football Playoff, but first, it needed to take care of business against Georgia. After the first score from the Bulldogs, the Tide scored and took control of the game from start to finish. While they didn’t dominate the Bulldogs, Alabama made the case that it was ready and better than the reigning two-time National Champion Bulldogs, who were on a 29-game win streak. Alabama’s defense was MVP of the game. The unit held Georgia to 321 yards. Further, the group was able to take Georgia quarterback Carson Beck and star tight end Brock Bowers largely out of the game. Tide quarterback Jalen Milroe wasn’t perfect, but he maximized the opportunities that Georgia gave him and didn’t turn the ball over. Finally, wide receiver Isaiah Bond was a game-changer in the second half.
The same couldn’t be said for the No. 4 Florida State Seminoles who defeated No. 15 Louisville 16-6 in the ACC Championship Game. Florida State had to show that it was capable of overcoming the obstacles of having a third-string quarterback to beat a team that lost to Kentucky the week before. Unlike the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes, the Seminoles won despite underwhelming quarterback play averaging just over two-and-a-half passing yards per completion. It is unlikely that having Tate Rodemaker back for the CFP would make much difference. The team is too different without Jordan Travis leading the offense. Under Travis, the Seminoles are dangerous and would be one of the best four teams. However, that is not a possibility for the remainder of this season.
Strength of Schedule and Big Wins Still Matter
There is no doubt that an undefeated schedule matters. There is, however, a matter of fact that the ACC has been among the least effective power five conferences within the last three seasons. Florida State being out of the CFP means that the ACC is out of the CFP for the third consecutive season. The Seminoles have the 55th-best strength of schedule as a result of a weaker ACC conference. Georgia Tech was the ACC team with the best strength of schedule at 40 because of strong non-conference play. Georgia Tech suffered losses at No. 17 Ole Miss and home losses to No. 1 Georgia.
Alabama had the fifth-best strength of schedule. A tough SEC schedule and the non-conference game with Texas help bolster the Tide’s resume. Alabama was also fifth in ESPN’s Power Football Index and seventh for in-game control. The Seminoles were ranked 11th and 14th in those same respective categories. Finally, Alabama possesses the win over the former No. 1 team in the nation. In addition to four overall wins over top 25 teams. Florida State had three wins over top 25 teams this season.
Alabama is Capable of Winning a National Championship
Throughout the SEC Championship, the Crimson Tide was rising in the odds to win the national championship. After the game, there was a clear debate about who was the most deserving. Either the Seminoles or the SEC Champion Crimson Tide. FanDuel has Alabama with the second-best odds to win the title at +210, only behind Michigan (+175). Further, BetMGM also has Alabama second at +190 to Michigan at +170. Texas follows at +310.
BetKentucky had Georgia (+190), Michigan (+190), Oregon (+500), Texas (+900), and Alabama (+1000) as the five teams with the best odds for a national title before Conference Championship weekend. Washington (+1800) and Florida State (+2800) were the teams that followed. By Conference Championship week, there was more faith for any other team than FSU in the top eight except for Ohio State.
The announcement that Florida State is slated as a 13.5 underdog to Georgia in the Orange Bowl, according to ESPN Bet doesn’t bode well for the Seminoles either. No. 4 Alabama is only a two-point underdog to No. 1 Michigan in the Rose Bowl.
The College Football Playoff Isn’t a Participation Trophy
This choice by the College Football Playoff Committee likely wasn’t easy to make. If they left out the SEC with Alabama or Georgia, then the most accomplished conference in the short span of the CFP would be left out. Alabama and Georgia also have a better resume than most of the current playoff teams. Instead of leaving out a team that is the SEC Champion and has the best overall win, the committee left out an undefeated Power Five conference champ for the first time in the CFP. While this isn’t fair, the committee has to live with the mistake of not removing Florida State from the top four after the injury to Travis to begin with.
The Seminoles are the most deserving team for the College Football Playoff, but so are four other teams. Florida State won in the weakest power five conference and not in the most dominant way. There is a clear difference between the Seminoles and the 2014 Buckeyes and how they persevered through injuries. Ohio State thrived while Florida State held on for a small victory. The goal is to find the best teams in College Football. Florida State should be praised for its season, but automatically given the chance to play in the CFP is not the spirit of the playoffs.