All together now, Oklahoma Sooner fans. You can do it if you try hard.
Say “Roooolll Tide!!!”
Maybe Ohio State fans would prefer a sing-a-long. If Lynyrd Skynyrd is too much of a reach for the Buckeye faithful in Sweet Home Ashtabula, then try “Spent my dollar (on beer)” and carry on with “Dixieland Delight.” The Greg Byrne-approved lyrics should not be a problem since you have no particular grudge with Auburn or Tennessee.
Make no mistake, though, if either of those one-loss teams want to participate in the College Football Playoff, they need to join Alabama and Hawaii as the only states pulling for a Crimson Tide win. The rest of the nation, afflicted with chronic Alabama fatigue, can support Georgia, if only for a brief moment of respite.
The Tuesday night “reveal” of the next-to-final College Football Playoff rankings don’t come with a guarantee, of course. Rather than risk a second Nick Saban smackdown of the week, let me stress the value of Alabama going out and taking care of business, which includes the very important matter of winning a Southeastern Conference championship. These things do matter. And it’s always best not to trust to the whims of any committee.
But most analysts agree: even a loss to Georgia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta would probably not knock Alabama out of the top four in next week’s final rankings, the ones which actually count. The subtle hint was the inclusion of Missouri in the rankings, giving Alabama a fourth win against the CFP Top 25 (LSU, Mississippi State and Texas A&M are the others.) Then came the No. 4 ranking for Georgia, ahead of both the Sooners (No. 5) and the Buckeyes (No. 6).
That means that, even if 13-point favorite Alabama loses to Georgia, that loss will have come against a team that’s going to wind up either No. 2 or No. 3 in the final rankings. That raises an interesting question: can a Top 4 team drop out of the Top 4 if it loses to a Top 4 team? In any case, the 2018 Alabama team with a sole loss would have a better case than the 2017 team that didn’t even make it to Atlanta — and that team made the field.
That question might carry even more weight if Alabama wins in an overtime classic along the lines of last year’s CFP Championship Game. Would a narrow loss to No. 1 Alabama nudge Georgia down enough for either Oklahoma or Ohio State to jump the Bulldogs? It might, but the best thing for the Sooners and Buckeyes might be for Alabama to win and win decisively.
That might even mean that the Oklahoma fans hoping that Sooner quarterback Kyler Murray can make a late run for the Heisman Trophy will have to pull for a dominant performance from the front-runner, Tua Tagovailoa. One wonders just how much Crimson Tide the Sooner fans can stand.
Regardless of how things turn out on Saturday, there is going to broader debate. A field consisting of Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Notre Dame would leave three Power Five conferences (to say nothing of the Group of Five) sitting on the outside. That would be a second straight year of no championship representation for the Pac-12 and the Big Ten (karma, perhaps, for all those years when the Rose Bowl controlled what happened in the postseason). That might prompt changes in a few years.
In the short run, though, there is only one thing to do if you are a Sooner or a Buckeye.
Go buy a houndstooth hat before they run out.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0225.