Oh, ye of little faith. When the analytics are in your favor, you ought to trust them.
Improbable though it seems after a season where it was nigh impossible to get everyone on the same page at the same time, it finally clicked in Atlanta, with a resounding 41-24 thumping of the “historic” Georgia Bulldogs. It wasn’t just the win that will move the Tide up, or a few plays here or there, it was how the Tide dominated that shocked most — with the much-maligned offensive line holding back the best front seven in America, sealing an almost-certain Heisman Trophy victory for Bryce Young after he put a helluva exclamation mark on the season.
The bad loss (and it was a very bad loss, only made palatable by Alabama taking its foot off the gas early in the third), left many wondering about the fate of the Bulldogs. Just how good is this team, after all? It has beaten exactly zero elite teams this season, with its best victories coming against 4-loss Arkansas, 3-loss Clemson, and 3-loss Kentucky. That’s it. That’s the resume, in an SEC East that was down even by the low bar of the SEC East.
Might that open the door for No. 6 Notre Dame lying in wait? The Irish are always a draw for our ESPN overlords. And, can you really say that the Irish aren’t a better team? Their resume is as thin as Georgia’s and both sport home thumpings by Top 4 teams as their lone blemish.
And, Alabama was not the only team that silenced doubters. After two solid months of imitating the Crimson Tide in playing down to their foes, the Cincinnati Bearcats absolutely unloaded on an excellent Houston team that had won 11 straight before yesterday, finally showing the team that many had been high on for the past two years. Have they done enough? Like Notre Dame, the Bearcats resume is thin owing to a more down-than-usual AAC. But UC ran the table, scheduled big boys, and the blasted Notre Dame under the watchful eyes of Touchdown Jesus. If the committee regards the Irish as a serious contender, than it cannot ignore that win, right?
Michigan too erased its doubters, capping off its best season in nearly 20 years, with a thumping of the Iowa Hawkeyes to claim their first Big 10 title since 2004. Harbaugh shaking up the defensive scheme, one that hides athletic liabilities, and a move towards more spread concepts, seem to have been the missing ingredients all along. This was a dinosaur that many thought would never modern-up. But even Harbaugh knows that an elite defense is there to get just enough stops for an elite offense to win titles. But, really, is that an elite offense? At times, the Wolverines have appeared to be so. We’re about to find out. And, given the Committee’s love for the Big 10, Could Michigan be moved to No. 1 overall? Or do Alabama and Georgia just swap positions?
What do we think about Baylor? Might a 2-loss conference champ, with two Top-10 wins in three weeks, get the nod over a Power 5 runner-up? Or over a G5 with the worst SOS since the Playoff’s inception? You can make that case, right?
We know two things after yesterday, and only two things: The two teams that needed to win, that controlled their own fate, did exactly what was asked of them: dominated their conference title game and walked out Champions. Alabama and Michigan are in. That’s all you can say for certainty.
Let’s tune in and see who else joins these two storied programs. Noon Eastern Standard on ESPN
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Predicted Field and Seeds: