Thirsty Alabama fans watching conference championship games remotely this weekend should consider saying these words to their bartender: “I’ve got a boilermaker, please.”
A drink that doubles as the Big Ten mascot could be just the luck the Crimson Tide needs to enter the College Football Playoffs picture.
No. 6 Alabama’s mayhem-needed Hail Mary hope of making the playoffs could benefit from the unranked Purdue Boilermakers (8-4) beating Michigan in the Big Ten championship — in blowout fashion.
Astute readers of this column will know my take on Alabama’s playoff resume. In short, one is missing.
We’ve been through this: The Tide’s best win came at No. 20 Texas, who played their backup quarterback in the last three quarters. Alabama (10-2) lost to teams with five total losses. It didn’t play the SEC’s toughest team, No. 1 Georgia, but still finished second in the conference’s weaker division.
Alabama’s credentials are worthy of a New Year’s Six Bowl, not the playoffs.
If No. 4 Southern Cal (11-1) stumbles in Friday’s Pac-12 championship, No. 5 Ohio State (11-1) is appropriately first to replace the Trojans.
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As I opined Sunday, #1 Georgia (12-0), #2 Michigan (12-0), and #3 TCU (12-0) should become playoff qualifiers even if a conference championship game is lost. Perhaps a blowout loss of epic proportions could beat TCU, but I believe the committee will aim to keep the three Power Five teams, who went unbeaten in the Conference Championship weekend, in the playoff field.
So case closed, right?
Even if USC loses to Utah, Ohio State moves in and Alabama stays out, right?
Wait a second.
The faintest glimmer of hope may remain, after CFP selection committee chairman Boo Corrigan said following Tuesday’s unveiling of the rankings.
Corrigan has been asked multiple times if the order of the teams is right behind USC — Ohio State, Alabama and No. 7 Tennessee – be fixed.
“Not necessarily,” Corrigan said.
Neither OSU, Alabama, or Tennessee are playing this weekend, so under what scenario could Alabama skip Ohio State and make the playoffs?
Well how is this:
1. Utah beats USC for a second time, knocking the Trojans out of the playoffs.
2. Purdue beats Michigan. Let’s call the final score 42-17.
3. The possible playoff field: #1 Georgia, #2 TCU, #3 Michigan, #4 Alabama.
Why would it matter that Purdue beat up Michigan?
Part of Ohio State’s stronger resume compared to Alabama’s rests on the Buckeyes suffering just one loss — to the undefeated Wolverines. OSU also boasts a marquee win over No. 8 Penn State. The Buckeyes should definitely be ranked ahead of Alabama by the looks of it.
But in the unlikely event that Purdue skunks Michigan, that would compound Ohio State’s home loss to the Wolverines by eroding Michigan’s standing. And a Purdue win would challenge the legitimacy of the Big Ten East.
Would that be enough to elevate Alabama beyond the state of Ohio?
Not in my eyes. The Crimson Tide remains strapped with two losses and missing a signature win.
But I’m not a member of the selection committee, and Corrigan’s words gave the committee room to wiggle.
emails of the week
Judi writes: You are an idiot and a typical bama hater, you will never have the class to be a bama fan.
My answer: It takes a lot of class to call someone an idiot.
Gary writes: You definitely lit (Hugh) Freeze. Totally disagree with your saccharine opinions.
My answer: My opinion is not embellished. It is my opinion. I’m not going to write a made up opinion just to appease angry tweeters. I destroyed Grambling State when it tried to hire Art Briles. If you want to put Hugh Freeze in the same unadjustable category as Briles, fine, but I don’t see it that way.
James writes: Hypocrite. So Mr. Perfect writes a column about some coaches’ problems in their past as if he were without sin. Better watch out, young man. If this comes back to you, you might learn to be a little more forgiving.
My answer: You and Gary need to get together and decide if I was too soft or too hard on Auburn’s lease of Freeze.
Three and out
1. If Georgia beats LSU in the SEC championship, I would vote for Kirby Smart for SEC Coach of the Year. Fifteen Bulldogs were drafted from last year’s national championship team, but the Georgia machine keeps thrashing. That is commendable. Coaches of teams that placed highly in the previous season should not be disqualified from the award.
2. The CFP top five includes No. 2 Michigan, No. 4 USC, and No. 5 Ohio State. That’s two Big Ten teams plus one more destined for the league in 2024. B1G stuff. Will we hear chants of “Bee-One-Gee! Bee-One-Gee!” during the playoffs?
3. Looking ahead, here are my top 4 SEC trainer rankings for 2023: 1st Kirby Smart, 2nd Nick Saban, 3rd Brian Kelly, #4 Hugh Freeze. With one attitude, Auburn regained chutzpah.
That “Topp Rope” is his biweekly SEC football column that airs throughout the USA TODAY Network. If you like Blake’s reporting, consider it a digital subscription so you can access everything. Also check out his podcast, SEC Football Unfilteredor access exclusive columns through the SEC Unfiltered Newsletter.