Can Georgia still make the playoffs after a huge loss to Alabama?

Alabama have kept their playoff hopes alive by beating reigning college football champions, the Georgia Bulldogs.


Can Georgia still make the playoffs after a huge loss to Alabama?

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban objects to an officials call at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Image via IMAGO)

The Alabama Crimson Tide beating the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC championship game on Saturday night did more than just deliver head coach Nick Saban‘s eighth conference title in 12 seasons. It also kept them alive for the college football playoffs.

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Alabama’s 27-24 win over Georgia at Falcons Mercedez Benz Stadium ended the Bulldogs’ 29-game winning streak. Not only that, but it also stopped them from equaling Minnesota’s (1930) feat of winning three back-to-back championships. It would go down as one of the greatest seasons in college football history for the Tides. Besides winning four conference titles, they end this season with a 12-1 record.

But will it be enough to catapult them to the CFP this season? Winning the SEC does make a good case for Saban’s side, but then again, their future is not in their hands. Several variables must be taken into account before considering them as one of the playoff contenders, like Georgia.

Can Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide make it to the college football playoffs?

The positive variables

Let’s make one thing clear at first: beating the Bulldogs does not guarantee a pathway to the CFP for the Tide. But it has given them a chance to be in the thick of it and make the committee sweat bullets.

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Can Georgia still make the playoffs after a huge loss to Alabama?
Nick Saban
Alabama Crimson Tide QB Jordan Milroe (Image via Sporting News)

According to the most recent poll from the college football selection committee, Alabama was ranked 8th. It put them behind several Power Five teams with fewer than two losses this season. This means that for them to qualify for the playoffs, they have to leapfrog a handful of teams. It’s easier said than done.

What helped them was the win over Georgia. Not to forget No. 5 Oregon Ducks’ loss to the Washington Huskies in Friday night’s Pac-12 championship game ended Oregon’s chances of qualifying as they dropped to 11-2 for the season.

The negative variables

However, here comes the first of two hurdles that could prove to be pivotal in Alabama, making it to the top four. Before the Tides-Bulldogs even took a snap, the game between the #7 Texas Longhorns and #19 Oklahoma State Cowboys (Big 12) had already wrapped up at Arlington. It ended in favor of the Longhorns, 49-21, which means they finished the season with a 12-1 record, the same as Bama.

The second blow to Tide’s hopes came in the form of the #4 Florida State Seminoles defeating the #15 Louisville Cardinals 16-6 in the late kickoff on Saturday night. Florida State won by fielding their backup quarterback, Tate Rodemaker (QB#1 Jordan Travis), out through injury). FSU is one of the three teams to go unbeaten this season (Michigan Wolverines, Washington Huskies, and now FSU).

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Playoff picture

It would have been easier if Florida had lost the game against Louisville. Then Bama would have gone through to the playoffs by being part of the SEC (considered the best conference by the committee). FSU’s win makes the situation tricky.

According to ESPN Playoff Predictor, Bama had a 9% chance of qualifying for the CFP before the FSU game took place, but that went down even further as the game ended. If Oregon had not lost to Washington, then this conversation would never have taken place.

It all comes down to the head-to-head record between Alabama and Texas. Notably, the Longhorns edged past the Tides 34–24 in September. Here’s what Alabama’s head coach, Nick Saban, had to say after beating Georgia.

We beat 4 out of 5 who are in the top 15. We won the SEC. We beat the best team the committee said was the best team (Georgia).

Now everything rests with the college football committee. They will announce the final four on Sunday. It will be interesting to see who finally makes it. Whoever it is, there will be a new name on the podium after three years.

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