The College Football Playoff field was announced today and, despite the best efforts of politician extraordinaire Nick Saban, Alabama was the first team out.
After not playing in a conference championship game, the Buckeyes (11-1) moved up one spot following USC’s loss in the Pac-12 title game Friday to give the Big Ten two playoff teams for the first time in the format’s nine-year history.
There was little controversy as it turns out. The top three seeds went into championship weekend unbeaten, and the outcome of the games didn’t change anything. TCU’s overtime loss to Kansas State was not enough to drop them out of the 3rd slot, let alone out of the playoff altogether.
It may be nothing more than semantics, but committee chair Boo Corrigan spoke about getting the “four teams right” rather than the “four best teams” as explained by then-chair Kirby Hocutt in 2017, when Alabama went over Ohio State. The one constant is that the two loss team is left by the wayside. Nothing in the rules or methodology states that a second loss is a disqualifier, but thus far it has been just that. It is easy to make an argument that TCU has the better resume, but few people believe that they have a better football team than Alabama.
Since they stayed in the 3rd slot, there was likely never a question to begin with.
The postmortem on this 2022 Alabama season will be that of a team that, while below the standard of some of Saban’s prior teams, played like a top 3 team in the nation from an efficiency standpoint. They played a top ten schedule, controlled games better than either Ohio State or TCU, and finished among the top 4 in virtually every advanced metric out there.
But they came up short, twice, and it cost them.
The Tide will now move on to a breakfast slot in the Sugar Bowl against the Kansas State team that beat TCU in the Big 12 Championship Game. Odds are strong that the team will look quite different than the one that beat Auburn, and the Wildcats will serve as a good test for the players who plan to return next season.