Alabama vs. Ohio State: Who Gets the Fourth Playoff Spot?

The top three in the playoff will be 1. Clemson 2. Oklahoma 3. Georgia and either 4. Alabama or Ohio State will be the fourth playoff team.

Before I get into the breakdown between Alabama and Ohio State here’s the way the fourth team will be picked, just ten committee members will rank the teams from 4-6. There will only be ten committee members ranking the teams because three of the 13 committee members will have to recuse themselves from voting — Ohio State and Clemson’s athletic directors because their two teams will be ranked inside the top six and former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer because his son is on the Georgia coaching staff.

This means there is the distinct possibility that the committee could split, with five voting for Ohio State and five voting for Alabama in the fourth spot. If they split like this do you know how the tie is broken? THEY SIT IN THE ROOM AND ARGUE UNTIL SOMEONE CHANGES THEIR MIND.

Seriously, this is the brilliant method we’ve selected to choose four playoff teams. One person could literally just change their mind and that’s how the playoff gets picked.

And if you think that’s crazy here’s something else that’s crazy — the ballots of the voters aren’t made public. Yes, you heard that correct — the ten voters never have to allow their ballots to be seen publicly by college football fans across the country. So there is an incredible amount of corruption that could be in play here. Because we’re talking about tens of millions of dollars to the conference that makes the fourth playoff — either the SEC or the Big Ten.

This is a recipe for disaster.

Now that we’ve got all of that out of the way, how would you assess Alabama vs. Ohio State.

First, and I’ll get to more on the Las Vegas front in a moment, but it’s important to realize that Vegas would favor Alabama by 5.5 over Ohio State on a neutral field. If the goal of the committee is to pick the best teams for the playoff — that’s literally their charged goal — shouldn’t the fact that Alabama would be nearly a touchdown favorite over Ohio State break any close tie?

Second, 11-1 Alabama has the same number of wins against teams with winning records as Ohio State, two more wins against teams going to bowl games, and its single loss will be demonstrably better than Ohio State’s two losses. Bama lost on the road to Auburn, a bitter conference rival, who is undoubtedly a top ten team. Ohio State lost to likely #2 seed Oklahoma at home by 15 and lost by 31 on the road to 7-5 Iowa.

Presently Ohio State has five wins against teams with winning records: Army, Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin. Alabama also has five wins against teams with winning records right now: Fresno State, Colorado State, Mississippi State, LSU, and Texas A&M. (Florida State also finished 6-6, but what would the Seminole record have been without Deondre Francois’s injury? Since the committee considers quarterback injuries for Clemson, shouldn’t they also consider FSU with Francois? Remember, Alabama played FSU with Francois until late in the fourth quarter. FSU with Francois definitely finishes with a winning record, right? They lost games by 6, 4, and 3 this year with a true freshman quarterback. Plus, is it Alabama’s fault that a top five preseason FSU team ended up losing several tight games after their quarterback was injured? The Tide scheduled a challenging neutral site game, which the committee wants to encourage. So it’s not like Alabama dodged anyone on this schedule. In fact, they tried to challenge themselves, which is a clear directive from the committee).

Right now both teams also have three top wins against top 25 teams.

So Alabama has the same number of wins against winning teams as Ohio State and fewer losses. Plus, their loss comes against a better team by fewer points.

Breaking down the numbers more fully, Alabama went 7-1 against bowl teams while Ohio State went go 5-2 against bowl teams. So Alabama played more bowl teams than Ohio State did and won more games against those bowl teams.

How about FBS teams in big five conferences with .500 or better records? Alabama went 5-1 against these opponents while Ohio State went 4-2.

Okay, how about records against FBS teams from big five conferences with winning records? Bama went 3-1, Ohio State went 4-2.

Finally, Ohio State lost by 15 to Oklahoma and 31 to 7-5 Iowa while Alabama lost by 12 at Auburn.

Put simply, Alabama’s record at the top is better and its record at the bottom isn’t as bad as Ohio State’s.

But Alabama didn’t even win its own division or its conference!

Good luck trying this argument, Ohio State fans. Last year you argued the committee should take the better team in this exact same situation.

And the committee agreed with you.

Passing over a two loss Penn State team WITH A HEAD TO HEAD WIN over your Buckeyes. The committee neglected to take the team that won Ohio State’s division and Ohio State’s conference, 11-2 Penn State, in favor of 11-1 Ohio State.

Why did the committee do that? Because they believed 11-1 Ohio State was better than a two loss conference champion, that, may I remind you, had beaten Ohio State head to head. What was one of the reasons the committee cited? Penn State’s getting blown out in a road conference game. Last year 11-2 Big Ten champ Penn State lost 49-10 to a top ten Michigan team and the committee considered that to be a disqualifying loss. So suddenly this year 11-2 Ohio State lost by 31 to a mediocre 7-5 Iowa team and suddenly it isn’t a disqualifying loss?

The same logic should apply this year as applied last year.

As if that weren’t enough, let’s look at Vegas again to compare the strength of the respective conferences. Because, after all, Ohio State fans are going to cite their wins over Wisconsin, Penn State, and Michigan State as huge wins. But are those teams really very good? It turns out, no, many SEC teams Alabama beat would be favored over these teams.

In a top to bottom 1-14 match up the SEC would be favored in 10 games, the Big Ten in three games, and one would be a pick’em.

Included, as noted above, is the fact that Alabama would be favored by 5.5 over Ohio State on a neutral field.

Auburn -5 vs. Wisconsin

Alabama -5.5 vs. Ohio State

Georgia -3 vs. Penn State (assumes Joe Moorhead remained as Penn State OC)

LSU -11.5 vs. Michigan State

Northwestern -2.5 vs. South Carolina

Mississippi State -1 vs. Michigan (assumes a healthy Nick Fitzgerald)

Missouri -6 vs. Purdue (yes, we know they played already spare us the rant)

Iowa -3.5 vs. Kentucky

Texas A&M -10 vs. Nebraska

Ole Miss -9.5 vs. Rutgers

Florida -7 vs. Maryland

Indiana -5 vs. Vanderbilt

Arkansas PK vs. Minnesota (assumes Brett Bielema as head coach)

Tennessee -8 vs. Illinois

When you actually look at all the data, there is no way to favor Ohio State over Alabama.

So will the committee pick the best team or will they pick Ohio State?

We’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning to know for sure. But here’s a final thought for you, would you rather see Clemson against Alabama for a third straight scintillating contest? Or would you rather see a rematch of last year’s 31-0 pasting of Clemson over Ohio State?

Surely, you want the better game against the better team, right?

If you do, that’s Alabama.

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