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Losing TCU earns Tide one last look, but Frogs should be there

Alabama will get one last look from the College Football Playoff selection committee.

Whether the Crimson Tide deserves it is debatable at best, but according to both TCU (12-1) and Southern California (11-2) lost Come championship weekend, the committee at least needs to talk about making Alabama (10-2) the first team to make the playoffs with two losses.

The field of four will be announced on Sunday.

TCU coach Sonny Dykes said Saturday he was concerned about the Frogs’ playoff status but also had faith in the committee.

“Of course I do,” Dykes said when asked if he thought the Horned Fogs deserved to be there.

Friday’s loss of No. 4 USC to No. 12 Utah in the Pac-12 championship pretty much ended the Trojans’ playoff hopes.

This was big news for Ohio’s #5 state. A week after the Buckeyes (11-1) were beaten at home by No. 2 Michigan, fans in Columbus were riveted to events in Las Vegas and got the result they needed — and maybe a rematch with the Wolverines in theirs Future.

On Saturday, the third-ranked Horned Frogs fell to 13th-ranked Kansas State in the Big 12 title game. As it has been all year, it was a wild ride for the Hypnotoads. They erased an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter after a heroic performance from Max Duggan before losing in overtime.

They go to the clubhouse after beating every team they’ve played against, with many close decisions and comebacks, but no conference championship.

There is precedent for undefeated teams losing their conference title games and remaining in the top four. Georgia was No. 1 when it happened against Alabama last year and dropped to No. 3.

In 2020, Notre Dame lost a rematch with Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game, rising from 2nd to 4th.

There’s no previous case to help Alabama make the playoffs under these circumstances, but that system has only been around for nine years. So don’t get too hung up on past results that predict future board performance.

The tide has its followers.

“I’m no expert but no one can convince me that @AlabamaFTBL isn’t any better than these teams I’ve watched despite two heartbreaking Ls. If the rule is BEST 4 for the playoffs, BAMA should be in it,” tweeted ESPN collegiate basketball analyst Dick Vitale.

So that’s what ‘Bama has to offer.

The 13-member panel has already made a questionable decision that went Alabama’s way when it finished sixth on the Tide last week and Tennessee, which defeated Alabama in October, finished seventh.

The committee chairman cited Alabama’s narrow losses compared to the Volunteers (10-2), who were clearly beaten in the two games they lost.

Alabama lost twice in the last game of the game, three times in Tennessee and one in LSU (9-3), who played No. 1 Georgia (12-0) in Saturday’s Southeastern Conference championship game.

Good losses indeed, but Alabama has had its share of big escapes too. Games against Texas and Texas A&M came down to the last play. Alabama’s best wins? Probably against Mississippi State, Mississippi and Texas, all 8-4.

TCU’s résumé is built primarily on the premise that the Big 12 is a conference with no slight failures. Oddly enough, the Frogs’ best win got better on Saturday when they lost a rematch to Kansas State, which was already in the committee top 10.

The best argument for Alabama comes from advanced metrics. This weekend, ESPN’s SP+ had the Tide in fourth place and its FPI had Alabama in second place. FEI, fielded by Football Outsiders, finished fifth with Alabama.

A Compilation of popular computer formula rankings had Alabama third and TCU eighth. These are the type of forward-looking metrics used by odds makers. Put the Tide and Frogs in a game on neutral field and Alabama will be favored by about a touchdown.

Recruitment rankings also give Alabama an edge. The Tide has the second most talented roster in college football after Georgia when counting the stars. TCU is 32.

But games and results have to matter, or why let Alabama play at all?

As it is the tide, and Ohio State essentially benefited from not winning their divisions and sitting out the championship weekend while USC and TCU had to prove themselves once again.

Making the playoffs should be a reward for the season, and what has Alabama done to earn that reward aside from losing its two toughest games?

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com

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