Despite Saturday's loss to rival Auburn, Alabama coach Nick Saban believes his team "deserves an opportunity to get in the playoff", but that will depend on how conference title weekend goes.
The Tigers (11-1) are coming off a 34-10 win over rival SC. That's two wins better than Alabama's best win over No. 17 LSU.
With the SEC champ and ACC champ in, let's say Oklahoma wins the Big 12 to stay in the top four and Ohio State doesn't just win the Big Ten title but throttles undefeated Wisconsin to do so. The committee is then debating whether Ohio State's clearly superior wins, and a conference championship, outweigh its one bad, blowout loss in a debate with the Crimson Tide.
Alabama fans will be rooting hard for Ohio State to win the Big Ten championship this season because it is one of two ways Alabama can reach the playoff this season.
The selection committee has cited the lack of a conference title game as a reason why a Big 12 team was left out of the College Football Playoff in the past. Whether Clemson or Miami, a one-loss ACC champion is also practically a lock for a playoff spot nearly any season. The Buckeyes' two losses would be against playoff-bound Oklahoma and an embarrassing, inexplicable dud at Iowa, compared with wins over bowl teams Army, Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin.
The wild card is Ohio State. Auburn would drop out with a loss to Georgia, but a Tigers win would ensure the Bulldogs couldn't leapfrog the Crimson Tide. Auburn advanced to the SEC Championship Game to face Georgia, while Alabama must await its postseason fate.
Oklahoma and Wisconsin control their own playoff destiny, but the same can't be said for their conference championship opponents. Washington (10-2) and Stanford (9-3) both jumped the Knights.
Yes, the Crimson Tide, who lost by 12 points at Auburn last weekend, sit in prime position to move back into the Final Four if certain things happen this weekend.
The Orange Bowl is guaranteed the ACC champion, but with projected champion Clemson in a semifinal, it would choose the next highest-ranked ACC team, which is No. 7 Miami. The lack of a marquee nonconference win - their game against Georgia Tech was canceled, although that wouldn't have helped much anyway - has hurt them, and they're far out of the conversation.
No. 10 USC and No. 11 TCU are still hoping to be a part of the conversation. Not very many teams are able to do that.
The Orange Bowl matches the top non-playoff team from the ACC against the top non-playoff team from the Big Ten, SEC and Notre Dame. Alabama football needs an Oklahoma loss to make the field if Wisconsin wins.