Two-time reigning national champion Georgia is officially at the mercy of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee after the No. 1 Bulldogs were defeated by No. 8 Alabama Saturday in the SEC Championship Game. The loss was the first for Georgia since it lost to Alabama two seasons ago on the same stage. Despite the Bulldogs now sitting amid a logjam of 12-1 teams and with no conference title to show, Georgia coach Kirby Smart believes his team has still done more than enough to secure a playoff berth after entering Saturday 12-0 and atop the polls.
"Bill Hancock said, 'It's not the most deserving, it's the best four teams,'" Smart told CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd after the SEC Championship Game loss. "If that [Georgia] ain't one of the best four teams out there, I don't believe any man or woman sitting on the committee does not believe that's one of the four best teams coming into it."
While the Bulldogs can rest in the fact that the SEC has never missed the playoff, and both Georgia and Alabama have twice qualified for the CFP in the same season (2017, 2021), the Bulldogs are still anything but a lock exiting the loss to the Crimson Tide. Washington is the only Power Five team to finish as an undefeated conference champion after winning the Pac-12 Friday, and could be joined by No. 2 Michigan out of the Big Ten and No. 4 Florida State out of the ACC in that regard. An undefeated Power Five team has never been excluded from the playoff.
If that scenario unfolds, it would presumably leave one spot remaining for a 12-1 team. That's where it gets complicated. Alabama has both the head-to-head and the conference title over Georgia, but the Crimson Tide's lone loss of 2023 came to No. 7 Texas, which emerged as a 12-1 conference champion Saturday after beating No. 18 Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Although Smart's assertion is correct that the committee is tasked with selecting the four "best" teams, the committee's listed criteria to choose that group explicitly states head-to-head results and championships are given considerable weight. Georgia can't claim a championship or head-to-head victory when compared with Alabama and Texas. The SEC grind may be of some saving grace, but the Dawgs still find themselves likely needing some chaos to unfold elsewhere Saturday night to feel good about its chances.