Alabama may not have played the conference championship weekend, but Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban was still working hard to work politically for his team to make it to the college football playoffs.
Saban, who appeared on ESPN’s “The College Football Show” with Skubie Mageza and former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron on Saturday, said his team deserves a spot in the playoffs. He claims Alabama has grown from midseason losses to Tennessee and LSU and, more importantly, is healthier now — particularly in regards to quarterback Bryce Young, who won the 2021 Heisman Trophy.
“I think there are some arguments for this team,” said Saban on Saturday. “I think Bryce got injured midway through the season – we started really strong – in Arkansas so you have to look at how teams are playing right now. We finished the tournament 3-0, played some pretty good teams, played Ole Miss away when they were number 9 in the country.
“But Bryce really missed the (Texas A&M) game, we got over that, won that game and came back and didn’t really get to practice for the next month. He had a very low pitch count, couldn’t throw the ball much in practice. I think that affected how we developed offensively.
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Young completed a combined 60 of 103 passes (58.3 percent) for 783 yards and three touchdowns to an interception against the Volunteers and Tigers. Alabama lost both teams away in the last game of the game, which seemed to put the Crimson Tide out of playoff contention.
“We lost two games en route to a top 5 team and a top 10 team in the final game of the game,” Saban said. “But now that he’s healthier and able to train I think we’re a different team and I think you should look at the circumstances around a team that lost two versus a team that lost one and how they’re playing at the end of the season?
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“How are you playing at the moment? And I think our team has played well over time and we’re playing well at the moment. I mean, we’re fifth in the nation when it comes to goals in attack and tenth in goals in defense.”
Losing No. 4 USC and No. 3 TCU during the conference championship weekend are the biggest factors behind sixth-seeded Alabama’s re-candidate for the playoffs. The Trojans were defeated by No. 11 Utah 47-24 on Friday, falling to 11-2 in the season. TCU lost in overtime to No. 10 Kansas State 31-28, although the Horned Frogs’ loss doesn’t necessarily drop them from the top four.
TOP 10 LOSS: USC | TCU
Said Saban of Alabama’s fall to reach the playoffs:
“We had some soft spots in the middle of the season at a difficult part of the year when we had some tough games along the way and got beaten twice in the last game of the game which hopefully we can do better, we can learn from that. But our team showed a lot of stamina to keep going, to end the year the right way, to keep improving and we ended up winning our last three games.
“I think I would ask the question, if we played those teams in question, would we be underdogs in the game or not?” Said Saban. “And that should answer any questions about who are the best teams right now. That’s the way it should be.”
Saban wasn’t the only one arguing for his team to make the playoffs on Saturday, either. Both TCU coach Sonny Dykes and the coach who defeated him, Kansas State’s Chris Klieman, made pleas for the Horned Frogs to be in the top four teams.
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“I think we definitely deserve it. I think the league (the Big 12) is one of the best in the country, to go through the league unbeaten we should definitely get in. I don’t think we should be penalized for coming to the Big 12 championship game.”
“I think we definitely deserved it … I don’t think we should be penalized.”
Sonny Dykes on TCU’s chances of making the college football playoffs. pic.twitter.com/U1B4V2WTZT
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) December 3, 2022
Klieman shared Dykes’ opinion on whether TCU should make the playoffs:
Kansas State Coach Chris Klieman: “TCU should be in the CFP. They are one of the top four teams.”
— Max Olson (@max_olson) December 3, 2022
Regardless of what Saban, Dykes and Klieman may say, the committee is unlikely to consider anything other than Alabama and TCU’s on-field performances for that fourth-and-final place finish.