Alabama has one fewer loss and a higher ranking than Ohio State, but it may not be safe from the Buckeyes jumping them into the top four.
Alabama wrapped up its regular season at 11-1, but with the recent loss to Auburn, it will not have a chance to add an SEC Championship to its résumé.
10-2 Ohio State has a chance to beat Wisconsin to capture the Big Ten crown, and while the Buckeyes are only ranked No. 8, vs. No. 5 for Alabama, during ESPN’s analysis of the latest rankings, Kirk Herbstreit said that based on the selection committee’s criteria, a conference title could prove to be a “trump card” for the Buckeyes over the Crimson Tide.
Committee chair Kirby Hocutt’s statements after the rankings were released may hint towards a similar conclusion.
Kirby Hocutt: "There's very little separation between teams 5 through 8."
As in, Bama & Ohio State.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 29, 2017
Kirby Hocutt just hinted on how a potential OSU/ALA debate may go. Referred to conf commissioners and selection criteria. Advantage conf champ (which would be OSU)
— Chris Fallica (@chrisfallica) November 29, 2017
Herbstreit did outline how Alabama could hold on to its current edge over Ohio State. As transcribed by Saturday Down South.
“The only way that would happen is if the coaches in that (committee) room said, ‘I wouldn’t want to play them. They’re just that good,’” he said.
However it shakes out, with nine or 10 teams still potentially in contention for the four spots, there should be more intrigue than we’ve ever had for the playoff field to be revealed. Unless the current top four sweeps their conference championship games this weekend, there will be some serious debate raging through Saturday night into Sunday afternoon.