The College Football Playoff committee may not have intended to send a message Saturday afternoon, but it did. In a landscape that included non-ending discussion of “quality wins,” the committee showed it weighed and scrutinized bad losses as well.

That was one of the factors the committee used to to come to the conclusion that Alabama was “unequivocally” better than Ohio State, CFP committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said Sunday in explaining the playoff-field announcement.

As such, Alabama earned the No. 4 ranking and its fourth consecutive trip to the playoff. Ohio State, despite its Big Ten championship, was left on the outside looking at No. 5, and the Buckeyes’ 31-point defeat on the road to Iowa was a bad loss the committee couldn’t overlook.

“The committee looked at one-loss Alabama compared to a two-loss Ohio State,” Hocutt said. “More damaging was the 31-point loss to unranked Iowa.

“Alabama was clearly the No. 4 team in the country as a non-champion.”

UA coach Nick Saban, who chose to spend time with a recruit on campus rather than watch the rankings show on ESPN, said he trusted in the process of the committee to properly weigh Alabama’s resume and whether or not it deserved inclusion.

“I certainly believed and trusted in the integrity of the committee that they’d do their best to put the best teams in,” Saban said. “I really do believe based on the total body of work that our team deserved the opportunity.”

Alabama will face No. 1 Clemson for the third time in as many years in the playoff, this time in the Sugar Bowl semifinal on Jan. 1 in New Orleans. The previous two meetings came in the national championship game.

The game is set for 7:45 p.m., with No. 2 Oklahoma playing No. 3 Georgia earlier in the day in the Rose Bowl.

Committee integrity

Alabama Director of Athletics Greg Byrne also trusted the committee.

“Obviously thrilled for the team, coaches, our fans and our university,” Byrne said. “It’s a testimony to the incredible job that Coach Saban has done leading the program. We had a bit of a restless night (Saturday) night, but the committee deserves a lot of credit because they said they were going to look at the four best; obviously I’m biased, but I certainly feel like we got the four best teams.

“I truly believe that when they say they if there’s conflict with somebody on the committee, they do have to leave the room. They’re very serious about that. They have very serious discussions about doing everything they can to get it right. Now, not everybody is going to agree with it. That’s part of it. But I do believe in the process.”

Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith served on the committee. Hocutt said Smith recused himself when the Buckeyes were discussed.

Per a school release, Tide Pride season tickets holders have until Monday, Dec. 4 to submit their requests for semifinal/final tickets.

Reach Aaron Suttles at or at 205-722-0229.