- There were no surprises in the last College Football Playoff ranking before the playoff teams are announced.
- Alabama is the biggest loser as they are the only team in the top seven that does not still control its own destiny.
- Alabama needs Oklahoma or Wisconsin to lose to get in.
The top four teams were as we predicted, with Clemson as the new top-ranked team and Wisconsin finally jumping into the top four with their undefeated record. Likewise, the first three teams outside the top four — Alabama, Georgia, and Miami — were also as we expected.
The important take-home from the latest ranking is that six teams still control their own destiny, including Georgia and Miami. That means the actual order of the teams ranked 5-7 means little, and Alabama, despite being ahead of Georgia and Miami, is the biggest loser this week thanks to their loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
Alabama needs help from the Big 12 or Big Ten.
If the top four teams win their conference championship games, they're in. But we also know that if Georgia and Miami win in the SEC and ACC, respectively, they're both likely to jump into the top four.
Alabama's best hope for the playoff was to stay in the top four, which didn't happen. Now they need help. Miami and Georgia both have a shot this weekend to add an impressive win over a top-four team and a conference championship. Alabama will be sitting at home and can't add anything to their resume. If Georgia or Miami win, they will leap-frog Alabama.
Bama needs things to get muddier, and that happens if Wisconsin or Oklahoma lose in their title games. Presumably, a loss by either team is Alabama's best path back into the playoff, and certainly not impossible as Wisconsin is actually an underdog against Ohio State.
Ohio State is still looming behind Alabama.
One thing that could trip up Alabama is if the committee took Ohio State over Alabama. The Buckeyes would have two wins over top-ten teams and a conference championship. Bama would have no huge wins and no championship. On the other hand, Ohio State also has two losses, including an embarrassing 33-point loss to Iowa.
But at the end of the day, an Ohio State win over Wisconsin might not be enough for the Buckeyes to leap-frog Alabama all the way from No. 8 and into the playoff. Keep in mind, this committee hasn't thought well of Wisconsin all season. The Badgers are an undefeated Power 5 team and they are still behind three teams with losses, including one team with two losses. A Wisconsin loss may just serve to justify what the committee already thought about them.
Another wild card working against Alabama is the ACC championship game.
What happens if Clemson loses to Miami in the ACC title game? It would only be mildly shocking if the committee took both ACC teams.
As we have noted several times, it is clear the committee is ignoring Clemson's loss to Syracuse. Not only did their starting quarterback get injured, it was on the road, Clemson has other strong wins on the road, and has looked like one of the two best teams in the country over the last month.
If the committee did take two ACC teams, that would mean the committee would have chosen lower-ranked Miami, a two-loss Clemson, and possibly a two-loss Auburn over one-loss Alabama, a team that has won four of the last seven championships.
In other words, Alabama may still need help from the Big Ten or Big 12, even if Clemson loses.