The University of Alabama’s Iron Bowl loss to Auburn cost it seven spots in the rankings, as UA fell to No. 12 in the College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday night.
Utah replaced Alabama at No. 5, behind a top 4 that saw no changes: No. 1 Ohio State, No. 2 LSU, No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Georgia. Between Utah and Alabama are No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 7 Baylor, No. 8 Wisconsin, No. 9 Florida and No. 10 Penn State.
Auburn is No. 11 after the win over UA.
UA’s placement in the CFP rankings no longer influences its hopes of making the four-team playoff, but it does have an impact on where UA ultimately goes for its bowl game.
The SEC’s bowl protocol begins with its champion, or its highest ranked team outside of the Playoff, going to the Sugar Bowl. If Georgia does not beat LSU in the SEC Championship Game, it is likely to fall out of the Playoff and into the Sugar Bowl. If Georgia wins, either LSU will fall out of the Playoff and go to the Sugar Bowl or it will make the top four, opening the Sugar Bowl spot to the next highest ranked SEC team: Florida.
After the Sugar Bowl, the CFP will work with the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl to fill them, both of them being potential landing spots for Alabama. The Orange Bowl pits an ACC team — likely to be Virginia, assuming it loses to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game — against Notre Dame or a SEC or Big 10 team that is ranked higher than them. If the season ended today, that would be Auburn, after Florida heads to the Sugar Bowl.
Since the Orange Bowl has those tie-ins, in addition to the Rose Bowl’s Big 10/Pac 12 tie-ins and the Sugar Bowl’s ties to the SEC and Big 12, that leaves the Cotton Bowl likely to take the Group of 5 representative — most likely the winner of the upcoming American Athletic Conference Championship Game between No. 17 Memphis and No. 20 Cincinnati — and another at-large team based on the rankings.
If UA falls underneath the Orange and Cotton Bowls, by way of being ranked under Florida and Auburn, the SEC protocol gives the Citrus Bowl the first selection of SEC teams.