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College Football Playoff: Comparing TCU’s resume to Alabama’s

Two weeks ago this time, it seemed like Alabama’s hopes of making the college football playoffs were nonexistent.

Since then, chaos has reigned over the course of Rivalry Week and the Conference Championship weekend, raising questions about whether the Crimson Tide can become the first two-losing team to make the playoffs. Losses by No. 4 USC and No. 3 TCU have at least made it a topic of conversation.

The question now is whether Alabama, which started sixth in the final week of play, can jump into the top four with losses to the Trojans and Horned Frogs. It appears Nick Saban and co. will move up at least one spot to No. 5, considering USC (11-2) was blown out in the Pac-12 championship, giving it two losses and no conference title.

MORE: How to watch the CFP Selection Show

The case for Alabama vs. TCU isn’t as adamant. The Horned Frogs lost a hard-fought game to No. 10 Kansas State on Saturday, overcoming an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter with a heroic performance from quarterback Max Duggan before falling in overtime.

TOP 10 LOSSES: OSU | LSU | Klemson | USC | TCU

Despite the loss, the Horned Frogs still have a better record (12-1) and they have an impressive record going into the Big 12 title game. The CFP Committee may decide not to penalize TCU in favor of a team that didn’t even play on Saturday.

The Sporting News breaks down how TCU’s college football playoff resume compares to Alabama’s and which team has the best chance of making it to the postseason:

College Football Playoff References: TCU vs. Alabama

overall record

team recording CFP ranking conference title game
TCU 12-1 3 Lost
Alabama 10-2 6 Didn’t qualify

The Horned Frogs still have the better record after losing Saturday’s Big 12 title game. The question is whether the timing of TCU’s defeat will sway the committee in favor of the Crimson Tide, whose most recent defeat was on November 5th.

MORE: Sonny Dykes explains why TCU didn’t attempt a field goal in OT loss to Kansas State

“Best” losses

Rankings are at the time of defeat.

team Opponent score
TCU against No. 10 Kansas State 31-28 (AT)
Alabama at No. 6 Tennessee 52-49
at No. 10 LSU 32-31 (AT)

In terms of rankings, Alabama has the “better” loss: 10-2 Tennessee, then ranked sixth nationally. at Neyland Stadium. The Crimson Tide also have a top 10 loss to LSU, also on the road.

Notable in those losses: Alabama was defeated in every game in the final game: a 44-yard field goal from Tennessee and a successful 2-point conversion by LSU in overtime. Those losses came by a combined four points.

TCU, meanwhile, lost by three points to a walk-off field goal against Kansas State in overtime. The Horned Frogs defeated the Wildcats in the regular season, coming from a 28-10 deficit and winning 38-28 in Fort Worth.

MORE: How TCU and USC losses affect Crimson Tide odds in 2022

Wins over ranked opponents

Rankings are at the time of victory.

team Opponent score
TCU against No. 18 Oklahoma 55-24
at No. 19 Kansas 38-31
against No. 8 Oklahoma State 43-40 (AT)
against No. 17 Kansas State 38-28
at No. 18 Texas 17-10
Alabama at No. 20 Arkansas 49-26
against No. 24 in the state of Mississippi 30-6
at #11 Ole Miss 30-24

TCU claims more ranked wins and the top tier win. It also boasts a streak of four consecutive ranked wins, over Oklahoma, Kansas, Oklahoma State and Kansas State. The last ranked win was on November 12 in Texas, a team that was then No. 1. 1 Alabama beat Austin 20-19. The Longhorns were unranked at the time and lost most of that game to QB Quinn Ewers.

Alabama’s three ranked wins came against Arkansas, Mississippi State and Ole Miss, with Arkansas and Ole Miss on the road.

MORE: Who are the top four teams in the fifth CFP poll of 2022?

Strength of schedule, strength of record

team SOS rank SOR rank
TCU 25 2
Alabama 9 5

Those rankings and ESPN’s FPI rankings are about the only advantages Alabama can claim over the Horned Frogs. The Crimson Tide have a much tighter schedule than the Horned Frogs.

However, the Horned Frogs’ success against their schedule is greater than Alabama’s against their schedule. Despite the weaker overall schedule, their better record gives TCU the No. 2 record strength behind only Michigan.

FPI rating

teams FPI rank
TCU 16.0 10
Alabama 26.1 2

ESPN defines FPI as “a predictive scoring system that uses advanced analytics to assess team strength.” Essentially, a higher rating equates to a “stronger” team.

Alabama ranks only behind first-place Georgia on this metric. TCU ranks second in its conference behind Texas, which ranks sixth nationally with 19.9.

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