The week 13 rankings are out, and Alabama has held its position across the board: #5 in the AP top 25 and the Amway coaches’ poll, second in SP+ and third in FPI.
There was no shakeup in front of Alabama as the top four all held serve, but there was major movement behind them as last week’s #6 Oregon and #8 Penn State lost. Utah now sits at #6 in both, followed by Oklahoma.
Lower in the polls, we see that the second tier of the SEC continues to be undervalued due to the strength at the top. Auburn is #16 in both polls because they have three losses, but those losses were all competitive to #1 LSU, #4 Georgia, and #8 Florida. Meanwhile, Texas A&M remains unranked despite whipping South Carolina 30-6 last week and giving #4 Georgia all they could handle in a 19-13 affair on Saturday. The Aggies have lost only to #3 Clemson, #4 Georgia, #5 Alabama, and to Auburn, which was another competitive affair. For comparison’s sake, SP+ and FPI, which are more about how a team played in all games vs. how many they won or lost, have Auburn at a respective #11 and *8, while the Aggies check in at #15 and #16.
So, to recap: Oklahoma defeated a 5-5 TCU squad by four points and rose in the rankings, while Texas A&M lost by six points to #4 Georgia and fell out of the rankings altogether. If you look at nothing more than the scores of the games, which is exactly what resume voters would have us do, who was the better team on that day, the team that got a close win over a mediocre squad or the one who suffered a close loss to #4?
In any case, Alabama still sits in a great spot. If they can whip Auburn next Saturday, the committee will likely be deciding between the Tide and Utes, who currently check in at #8 in SP+ and #11 in FPI with little time to move the needle. At this point the pollsters are viewing Oregon and Auburn very similarly, catching up to the advanced metrics that have all along. It’s clear at this point that leaving out an 11-1 Alabama team would be a political decision, and thus far the committee has not succumbed to that. The Tide has to feel good about its chances, but there is no room for error.
Just win, baby.