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2018 College Football Playoff Scenarios: Assessing Georgia’s Odds After Loss to Alabama

Dec 02, 2018 10:40 AM EST
  • Can Georgia still make the 2018 College Football Playoff after losing to Alabama? Here are the possible scenarios.
  • Oklahoma is likely going to be the No. 4 team in, since the committee has favored one-loss Power 5 champions over "better" teams with more losses.

Georgia lost a heartbreaker to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, which most would think crushed the Dawgs’ hopes of reaching a second straight College Football Playoff.

But Georgia hung with Alabama on a neutral field, and proved it’s probably one of the four best teams in the country. The national media is clamoring for UGA to get a shot.

Could the Dawgs still get in? I think it’s between them and Oklahoma, but the Sooners will get the final spot.

2018 College Football Playoff Scenarios

The committee has certain criteria for selecting teams, though it doesn’t lay it all out specifically. Here is some of it, from the committee itself.

When circumstances at the margins indicate that teams are comparable, then the following criteria must be considered:

  • Championships won
  • Strength of schedule
  • Head-to-head competition (if it occurred)
  • Comparative outcomes of common opponents (without incenting margin of victory)

Georgia had a better strength of schedule than Oklahoma, but fewer championships won. And one more loss. That’s the key. Wins and losses have to matter, and the committee has made that clear in the past.

The only argument you can make for Georgia is circumstance. Georgia had to play Alabama because of its conference affiliation, so Saturday’s loss shouldn’t be held against the Dawgs. It should be, and I think it will be.

Oklahoma Has to Get in, Right?

A two-loss team that didn’t win its conference championship is going to have a hard time making a case for the playoff when there are three unbeaten or one-loss conference champions and an undefeated Notre Dame. In a year with more chaos — Texas beating Oklahoma, and/or Northwestern beating Ohio State — a two-loss Georgia would have a great shot.

A two-loss team has also never reached the College Football Playoff. It’s not impossible, but when there are one-loss Power 5 champions to pick from, it seems unlikely.

People seem to be treating Georgia like it’s 12-1. But it’s not. That LSU loss looms large.

“Best” Team vs. “Most Deserving” Team?

It’s pretty clear that Georgia is one of the four best teams in the country (have you seen Oklahoma’s defense?) but the committee has favored the most deserving teams over the “best” teams during the first four years of the College Football Playoff. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Wins and losses need to matter.

The committee takes the entire season into account, so Georgia’s blowout loss to LSU hurts. The lose to Alabama obviously hurts. Oklahoma had a last-second loss on a neutral field to Texas.

Two years ago, Penn State was playing better than almost anyone in the country when it won the Big Ten. But because it had a loss to Pitt early in the season, Ohio State got the nod over the Nittany Lions, even though they beat the Buckeyes head-to-head. That same year, three-loss USC was maybe the hottest team in the country and would have been favored on a neutral field over almost anyone. But it had three losses. That matters.

Ohio State Is Probably Out

I don’t think there’s any way Ohio State gets in, regardless of how the Buckeyes play against Northwestern tonight.

The committee judging the whole body of work is why Ohio State got left out as a two-loss Big Ten champion last year. Getting routed by Purdue and struggling through much of their schedule can’t be offset by blowouts of Michigan and Northwestern, if that’s the result tonight.

What If…Clemson Loses?

I think the Tigers still get in if they somehow lose to Pitt as a nearly four-touchdown favorite. Their seeding might change — they’d play No. 1 Alabama in the semifinals — but that’s about it.

Credit:

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jake Fromm

Follow Steve Petrella on Twitter
@steve_petrella

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