From the moment Kansas State kicker Ty Zentner's 31-yard field goal sailed through the uprights to give the Wildcats the Big 12 title and hand TCU its first loss of the season, the all eyes turned toward Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In that moment, the No. 6 Crimson Tide's hopes of making the College Football Playoff heated up. With two-loss Alabama being forced into the discussion, Nick Saban began lobbying for his team to be considered for the final spot in the field, even joining the broadcast crew during halftime of the Big Ten Championship Game to state his team's case.
Some flaws in Saban's arguments were evident, however. So let's break down some of the factors that prevent Alabama from joining the four-team College Football Playoff field in relation to Saban's arguments.
It doesn't have a quality win
"We lost two games, on the road in a tough league, to top-10 teams -- one top-five team on the last play of the game."
Alabama's best win is a one-point victory over No. 20 Texas in Week 2, and that win included 15 accepted penalties, plenty of miscues and an inability to move the ball on a consistent basis despite having Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young -- who was healthy at the time -- taking the snaps. Is there another quality win? The only other ranked victory is a 30-6 decision over No. 24 Mississippi State. Let's be real, if we're talking about a win over Mississippi State being one of a team's signature wins, that speaks volumes on how easy this trek should have been.
The committee does talk about "game control", and Alabama didn't exactly shine in that area either. A very mediocre Texas A&M team had a shot at the end zone to spring a potential upset in Tuscaloosa as time expired, and Ole Miss had a similar chance to tie -- and win with an extra point -- in Oxford, Mississippi. Let's not forget the Arkansas game that, despite the 49-26 final, was way closer than the score indicates. Alabama's case for the CFP really centers around quality losses to No. 7 Tennessee and No. 14 LSU. If a team's primary argument is its losses, that speaks volumes.
Other teams have better cases
"We shouldn't just be looking at metrics of one loss and two losses. Who are the best teams?"
TCU lost in overtime to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game in what was the Horned Frogs' first loss of the season. What makes its case unique is that it already beat every team on the schedule -- including this same Kansas State team in the regular season. Essentially, they played their way into a chance to lose in a rematch. TCU's quality wins include the victory over Kansas State and a seven-point win over Texas in Austin, Texas -- a comparable result to the one-point win Alabama had in the same building. Oh, and there's the obvious fact that a one-loss team has one fewer loss than a two-loss team, but that's just basic math.
Ohio State has a much better case on top of that same super-complicated math above. The Buckeyes' signature win is a 44-31 win at No. 8 Penn State, which the committee obviously loves. It also has that 11-point win over No. 21 Notre Dame, a team which will probably find itself in the top 20 in the final rankings on Sunday. Sure, the 45-23 home loss to Michigan last week wasn't great, but the Wolverines are the second-ranked team in the country. If we are judging losses, one loss to the second-ranked team in the country is still better than two losses to Tennessee and an LSU team that could fall out of the top 20 after a 50-30 drubbing at the hands of Georgia on Saturday in the SEC Championship Game.
In reality, Tennessee has a better case than Alabama. Aside from the obvious heads-up win over the Crimson Tide, the Volunteers stomped LSU 40-13 in Baton Rouge, Looisiana, the same place in which Alabama lost to those same Tigers.
Vegas odds don't matter
"If we played any of these teams that are on the edge of getting in, would we be the underdog? Or would we be the favorite?"
Saban lobbied for his team using gambling odds. Seriously? We're going to use gambling odds to try to make a case? Game lines are used to make money for oddsmakers, which means it tries to get comparable money on both sides. Yes, Alabama is favored quite a bit because -- breaking news here -- it is a pretty good team. But the name-brand of Alabama also matters a lot to people who dabble in investing.
Plus, it stands to mention that Alabama is 3-5-1 against the spread against Power Five opponents this year, so it's not like you can trust the Crimson Tide to actually match that Vegas hype.