In the recent College Football Playoffs rankings, Alabama moved up a spot thanks to a tough Tennessee loss to South Carolina. Now at No. 7, the Crimson Tide’s chances of making the playoffs are improving slightly, but not enough to expect an appearance.
A small chance is better than no chance, so let’s see what needs to happen this week to help the tide. Earlier this week, Roll Tide Wire’s Sam Murphy paved the way to the playoffs for Alabama. Here’s what needs to happen this week to pave that path (or just keep it alive).
As Alabama prepares to take on Auburn in the Iron Bowl, here’s a quick list of games for Crimson Tide fans to keep an eye on, and which teams to hope to end the 2022 regular season with a win.
First and foremost: Alabama needs to win big
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No team has ever made it to the college football playoffs with two losses, and there’s a good chance 2022 won’t be their first year, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. One absolute certainty, however, is that when an Auburn team strolls to Tuscaloosa with an interim head coach and a 5-6 record and the Iron Bowl wins. A dominant win for the Crimson Tide leaves the team looking their best in the committee’s eyes.
SOUTH CAROLINA vs. CLEMSON: South Carolina
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Just last week, South Carolina hosted Tennessee and saw the Volunteers leave with a hefty 63-28 loss, knocking Tennessee out of playoff contention and giving Alabama a place to climb. Now the Gamecocks must repeat the impressive performance of a week ago and defeat No. 8 Clemson.
While it could be argued that Clemson isn’t as much of a threat given that the team would have to jump ranked 7th Alabama, it’s important to note that the Tigers will be playing in the ACC championship game. Even if a win over South Carolina Clemson doesn’t bump over Alabama, it will certainly help defeat UNC for a conference title. A Gamecocks victory sealed the Tigers’ fate.
NOTRE DAME vs. USC: Notre Dame
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The Trojans are just one spot ahead of Alabama at No. 6 and, like Clemson, have an additional opportunity to earn bonus points with the playoff committee by competing in the Pac-12 championship.
A victory for Notre Dame here would essentially wipe out USC’s chances of making the CFP and make room for the Crimson Tide to move up the next ladder.
LSU vs. TEXAS A&M: Texas A&M
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Due to the win over Alabama a few weeks ago, LSU will face Georgia in the SEC Championship. Many are expecting the Tigers to lose this matchup, but a fall against Texas A&M this week would prematurely end No. 5 LSU’s hopes and allow the Crimson Tide to move up the rankings before the conference championships begin.
State of Iowa vs. TCU: State of Iowa
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TCU has surprised many with their high level of play this season, but some are still hesitant to say the Horned Frogs deserve a playoff spot. In the final week of the season, TCU hosts the 4-7 Iowa State Cyclones. This would be a pretty big surprise if the state of Iowa pulls it off.
The Horned Frogs will also play in the Big 12 Conference Championship, which could help or hurt this team. For this week, however, Alabama fans need the Cyclones to take down No. 4 TCU.
MICHIGAN vs. OHIO STATE: Ohio State (by many)
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One of the nation’s greatest rivalries will essentially serve as the play-in game for the conference championship and the quarterfinals for the college football playoffs. For Alabama’s sake, Ohio State should be the team to win this game, and it would be best if it wasn’t close.
Why the horse chestnuts, you might ask? Well, it’s clear that Ohio State is considered the stronger team. Though Ohio State is just one spot ahead at No. 2 while Michigan is at No. 3, the Buckeyes were the higher-ranked team going back to the AP preseason poll. I’d argue that a win in Michigan won’t drop Ohio State too far, while a loss to Wolverine, especially by a solid lead, would likely knock Jim Harbaugh and co. out of the top four.
This game could go either way and still help the Crimson Tide, but I’m convinced the committee has a gap between Ohio State and Michigan. Let the stronger of the two programs win to take the weaker team out of the competition.
GEORGIA TECH vs. GEORGIA: It doesn’t matter (but probably Georgia)
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A 5-6 Georgia Tech team upsetting Georgia would certainly make headlines and cause chaos in the top four, but is that really to Alabama’s advantage? Similar to my argument as to why it should be Ohio State over Michigan, let the strong team stay put. A loss this week would not only throw Georgia down a few places, but the team would have an opportunity to make up for it in the conference championship.
Let the teams at the top stay there while the few behind fall away. It will take chaos to get the Crimson Tide in the top four, but too much chaos could see Alabama move up a bit but still lag behind.
Story originally appeared on Roll Tide Wire