Saturday evening’s festivities in Bryant-Denny Stadium are officially a meeting between No. 2 and No. 3.
The College Football Playoff Committee’s first set of rankings, released Tuesday night, had Ohio State No. 1, LSU No. 2 and UA No. 3. The top six was rounded out by Penn State at No. 4, Clemson at No. 5 and Georgia at No. 6.
“Alabama is No. 3 because the committee members are impressed with its overall performance the quality of play on both sides of the ball,” Rob Mullens, the chair of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, said on a teleconference. Mullens is Oregon’s Director of Athletics.
“What you see when you watch Alabama is outstanding playmakers. They’ve been dominant against their schedule, and while it may not be as strong as some others, when you watch the games, they certainly have been dominant.”
UA’s strength of schedule was a consistent topic relative to its ranking over No. 4 Penn State. Both teams are 8-0 but Penn State has wins over the CFP’s No. 14 Iowa and No. 18 Michigan, while UA has yet to beat a team currently ranked in the CFP’s top 25.
“We do have those discussions,” Mullens said. “At the end of the day, when the committee watched Alabama, they saw a team that was being dominant against that schedule, and that was the difference.”
Penn State’s wins over Michigan and Iowa came by five and seven points in consecutive games. Penn State’s lone win by fewer than 21 points outside of those two games was a 17-10 win over Pitt. Meanwhile, UA has won its eight games by an average of 33.3 points.
UA was No. 1 all six times the CFP released rankings last year and two of the six times in 2017. All told, UA had been No. 1 in 16 of the CFP’s 30 sets of rankings before this season.
With Mullens as the chair, the committee features five other sitting athletic directors: Gary Barta (Iowa), Joe Castiglione (Oklahoma), Terry Mohajir (Arkansas State), Todd Stansbury (Georgia Tech) and Scott Stricklin (Florida).
The rest of the Selection Committee: R.C. Slocum, former Texas A&M head coach; Ray Odierno, former Chief of Staff of the United States Army; Ronnie Lott, former All-American at USC; Chris Howard, President of Robert Morris University; Paola Boivin, a professor at Arizona State; Frank Beamer, former Virginia Tech head coach; and Ken Hatfield, a retired head coach of 27 years with stints at Air Force, Arkansas, Clemson and Rice. Hatfield retired in 2005.
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Notre Dame
- Kansas State
- Wake Forest
- Boise State
- Oklahoma State