Alabama debuts at #6 in new playoff poll

ITKAny questions regarding how the new playoff committee would address one conference’s dominance against the landscape of college football were answered Tuesday night as the committee placed three teams from the SEC in its initial four team playoff scenario.

And not only from the SEC, but the SEC West.

Of course, some of it may have been window dressing. Top ranked Mississippi State still must play #6 Alabama and #4 Ole Miss. #3 Auburn plays #4 Ole Miss this Saturday, then of course closes the season with a loss at #6 Alabama. Meanwhile #2 FSU is sitting pretty, with more cupcakes than a GiGi’s sampler box just ahead. The Criminole’s only real test comes Thursday night at (yawn) Louisville.

Meanwhile, the four teams mentioned in the SEC West will most assuredly cannibalize themselves in the final weeks of the season. However, with the poll’s release, there is a good shot that a second team from the West could make it in.

If you think about it, that is pretty hilarious, because that’s where this all started. Cries of desperation for change came in 2011 when Alabama was the best team in the country, yet toted a loss to LSU. The BCS system got it right, and Bama went on to win the National Championship with a 21-0 drubbing of the corn dogs in the rematch.

There was nothing wrong with the old system. In my opinion, if you wanted a playoff, it should’ve been kept with the top four teams in the BCS being gathered for competition. And we all know it’s only a matter of time before the “top 4” becomes the “top 8.” It’s human nature to believe there’s something better out there. Contentedness isn’t exactly a common human trait.

From an Alabama perspective, Alabama is in the best possible position heading into the final stretch. I totally agreed with Alabama analyst and Reese’s Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage prior to yesterday’s release of the first poll:

“For my @AlabamaFTBL followers, sort of hoping #Tide will be 5-6-7 in inaugural #CFP ranking. Earn rather than maintain top 4 status in Nov.”

Bama has rarely been given the privilege of playing the part of the hunter in recent years, or in its storied history for that matter. Rather, the Tide has had to bear the burden of being the hunted, an entirely different animal. Teams playing that role currently are those that haven’t exactly displayed the fortitude to keep it up. It’s one thing to lurk in the shadows. It’s another to stand up in the spotlight and perform.

One of those teams will go down this Saturday in Oxford, being wiped from the 2014 mix with the setting Mississippi sun. Either outcome is a win-win for Alabama.

For at least two of the top 3 SEC teams in the initial poll, a premature celebration will be all they’ll be able to claim in 2014. But given the fan bases we’re talking about, hardware at seasons’ end is hardly ever the goal. Rather, a toe-dipping in the college football pool of success is usually more than enough. And for Mississippi State, Auburn and/or Ole Miss, with this first poll, consider it mission accomplished.


(Follow ITK on Twitter for Bama news, commentary and smack.)

8 Comments

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  1. 1
    nope

    I thought Alabama’s rank was just right.

    Injury seemed to be a complete non-issue for the committee, and at least as big of an issue as suspensions, which I certainly did not expect.

    But while Ole Miss is a great football team, they’re fourth? And LSU is barely in the top 20? I kinda have to disagree with both.

    I think they’re giving Ole Miss a big nod for beating Alabama…but they beat Alabama only after injuring no less than three starters in the first quarter alone, including the center who was replaced by a freshman who contributed to penalties and at least one turnover?

    Then they forced the 19th-best team in the country to fumble the ball five times…but they couldn’t score on any of them? And as a result, they dropped from, what, 2nd or 3rd to…fourth? LSU, for the record, isn’t what I would call the 19th-best team in the country. I think they’re much better than that. I get the nod for Auburn winning on the road at Kansas State, but Ole Miss got huge props for barely beating a decimated Alabama team on their home field in the biggest crowd they’ve ever had. Strange is all.

    For example, now the #3 and #4 teams play this weekend. Whoever wins, shouldn’t that team jump up to, say, #2? Or what, they stay at #3 at best because they have a loss and the top-two don’t? But then how far can the losing team possibly drop? Fifth? Sixth? A two-loss SEC West team from that game would still be staying in the top ten for sure, right? Yikes.

    And that would put Alabama (on a bye-week, no less) up to what, fifth? Or stay at 6th and let the loser of that game stay ahead because they either won (regardless of any other determining factors) or will play each other later in the year?

    Alabama controls its own destiny, absolutely. They are simply one of the best teams out there and can’t be overlooked. But that’s what I noticed about Ole Miss—-the committee considers Alabama one of the best teams in the country and beating Alabama still pretty much matters more than beating anyone else, even with a deluge of injuries, a brand new QB in his first-ever road game, and, once again, missed field goals (for which the same doesn’t seem to be true for Oklahoma this season).

    Think about it—-Notre Dame nearly beat FSU, but if they had, would Notre Dame not be ranked #2 in the nation right now? ND is a great team, believe it or not, but I can’t imagine them being better than Auburn or Ole Miss right now, not at all, let alone Alabama or Mississipi State or Oregon, and the difference wasn’t just that one penalty; it’s worse. It was several unforced penalties they could have won the game on. To say Notre Dame could have beaten FSU isn’t a stretch by any means, but they were remarkably close on more than simply that final go-ahead touchdown penalty…but that doesn’t make them the better team at all, apparently. Worse, that makes them essentially incapable of controlling their own destiny?

    Bottom line, wins matter more to the committee than pretty much anything else, and wins over teams like Alabama matter more than most no matter what condition the team is in.

  2. 2
    peachy

    Ole Miss should have beaten Alabama by a much wider margin. The missed facemask was huge.

    And dont whine about injured players. Thats just sad.

    • 3
      nope

      Not whining, peachy. You’re an ass more than I’m whining.

      A “much wider” margin? I actually agree. If they’re the 4th-best team in the country, they should have beaten an injured Alabama team at home by many more points than two missed field goals. Good point, Peachy.

      Again, Alabama controls its own destiny outright. The point about the injury is only because the committee made a point very early on to distinguish between injury versus suspension. They said they consider injury by comparison, but suspensions are “your problem,” as they put it.

      Look at FSU and how they lost their star QB for the Clemson game. The result is the same as an injury would have been, if not actually worse when you think about it, but it’s hard to overstate the importance of losing so many players in a single quarter, particularly the center and replacing him with a freshman, only now we know the committee doesn’t see it that way. It’s not crying—-it’s talking about what we learned about how the only poll that matters works after the first ever poll of its kind.

      What that means is Alabama, even as one of the youngest and most experienced teams in the country, is still simply perceived as one of the most impressive teams to beat. Doesn’t that make sense? Yes, it’s hard for a freshman center to perform flawlessly by surprise in his first game ever, let alone on the road and at Gameday, but the argument is now “he’s at Alabama so he should be prepared to start.”

      I don’t think that works out well for Alabama against LSU now, but at least now we know. After all, I’m not sure if you have any opinions or not since the only thing you mentioned is a missed Alabama penalty, but if you do, where would you have put Ole Miss? They’re a fantastic fundamental team on both sides of the ball, don’t get me wrong, all I’m saying is that and LSU were the only real surprise outlyers for me in this historic first playoff committee poll, and I’m not crying about it like you and the rest of the country. Again, I’m more curious than furious.

      Then again, that’s an easy place to fit into when you control your own destiny every year.

    • 4
      pete4tide

      Little Peach: If Kelly (center), Drake (running back) and Shepard (OL) aren’t hurt in that game, it’s a runaway for Alabama.

      Tell me about that facemask again.

      • 5
        nope

        I don’t know about a runaway, but I understood the point of making a distinction between suspension versus injury.

        Peachy can call it crying, and Alabama’s loss of their center is a great example, like it or not, but you could do the same for Oregon when they lost 4 of their linemen and eventually lost a football game as a result of that and a weird penalty. Sound familiar, peachy? Or does everything we say sound like crying to you (unless you’re just trolling)?

        Again, all it’s meant to suggest is the committee treats injury exactly the same as suspsension, which is to say they don’t really treat either one of them as much of anything at all.

        And peachy has a point about the facemask penalty, albeit he ignores the one example I gave of the injury resulting in a penalty in a points-scoring scenario.

        Let me say instead I don’t expect Ole Miss to beat Auburn. Ole Miss has good defense, a great devense, in fact, maybe the best in the nation even with losing one of the Nkemdiche brothers.

        But Auburn kills you with offense. Spurrier knew that, and he knew not to expect his defense to stop Auburn from scoring points That’s why he brought high school tactics against a high school offense. It nearly worked. But SC’s offense couldn’t match Auburn’s offense.

        Ole Miss has a better offense than SC. But even if Ole Miss can closely match Auburn on offense, it essentially doesn’t matter unless Hugh Freeze chooses the same high school tactics Steve Spurrier used. If Ole Miss kicks the ball every time on fourth down and anything more than a yard to the first-down marker, they lose the game. Personally, I’d be less surprised if Auburn instead picks up on Spurrier’s tactics rather than Ole Miss, and then the only real question is how far does a #4-ranked team drop after its second loss, this time to the #3-ranked team.

  3. 6
    WhoreEagle

    The Auburnites have been strangely quite this week.

    Whoever loses this game will have at least 3 losses before season’s end.

    Ole Miss 34 Auburn 7

  4. 8
    RollTide

    At the end of the regular season the SEC West will probably have several teams better than some invited to this playoff.

    I’m thinking the real playoff would (should) be at the Egg and Iron Bowls.

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