Stephen A. Smith says, “If USC or TCU lose, Alabama goes in,” says Paul Finebaum, Tide isn’t one of them

When it comes to the college football playoffs, hypotheses are as common as polls, voters, and debate between Paul Finebaum and Stephen A. Smith.

The debate has heated up in recent days.

Who will be No. 5 and have the inside lane when carnage ensues during Championship week?

The CFP’s latest poll airs Tuesday night at 6 p.m. on ESPN. The show is streamed live on fuboTV (free trial).

If USC suffers a loss in the Pac-12 championship game or TCU in the Big 12 championship game this weekend, would Ohio State — which just lost to Michigan — or Alabama — which has two losses — deserve an extra CFP spot?

“Ohio State didn’t lose this past weekend,” Smith said Tuesday. “You kicked your ass.”

Well, we know where the First Take hosts stand on this topic.

“I want to sit up here now — and you know where I’m going — Alabama should come in,” Smith said, adding that the Buckeyes were embarrassed.

“When I think of Ohio State, let me say this about the Ohio State Buckeyes. I understand it was a loss. I understand all this. … Ohio State didn’t lose last weekend. They got their ass kicked. You don’t get to go to the playoffs getting beat like that. Does not work like that.

“In The Greatest Rivalry, have you seen the promos? Have you seen everyone talking about “not even saying each other’s names? They don’t talk about each other’s schools. They hate each other blah blah.’ And you get spanked? Beat up by Michigan? 28-3 in the second half? You get your brains cut off?

“Ohio State doesn’t go in ahead of Alabama after a loss like this if USC or TCU lose.”

you fought You lost by one point. They lost to a last-minute field goal at Summer in Tennessee 52-49. The two lose with a total of 4 points. I’m not saying they deserve to be in it now, but if USC or TCU lose, Alabama goes in. Yes! Absolutely.

However, Finebaum just doesn’t see it.

“I’ve lived in Alabama most of my life and I’m as big an admirer of the program as you are, but I don’t think they belong in the playoffs,” Finebaum shot back. “I’m not crazy about Ohio State, but the only thing Ohio State had to do – whether it was fair or not – was play in the Big Ten against the best team besides them. Alabama did not play Georgia. If they had played Georgia, they would have lost. I don’t think there’s really a debate about it. The reason I say this is because Alabama never hit anyone.

“You can’t find a good win on Alabama’s schedule. How about Texas? They lost four games. How about Ole Miss? They lost four games. You have big losses. You don’t have big wins. At least Ohio State has a good win against Penn State, who will be a top 7 or 8 team this week.

Earlier Tuesday morning, CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm told me on “The Opening Kickoff” on WNSP-FM 105.5 in Mobile that he believes the committee will have Ohio State’s No. 5, one spot ahead of Alabama.

“Alabama will be No. 6 behind Ohio State, three undefeated teams and USC,” Palm said.

The reason is the “dominance” in the course of the season.

“And the out-of-conference win over Notre Dame, which would have been a split if Michigan had been in that situation,” he explained. “I think Alabama would have been ahead of Michigan, but I think Ohio State with just one loss and the other 11 games that’s pretty good and pretty dominant puts Ohio State ahead of Alabama.”

Palm added that the committee “loves” Alabama, but he believes losses are losses whether you’re close to them or not. And while Alabama lost two for a total of four points, he doesn’t think the committee will bring the tide over Ohio state.

Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Heim.