Holbrook: We want Bama (in the playoff)


Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts during the Iowa State vs. Oklahoma game Nov. 9, 2019.

Trevor Holbrook

Earlier this week, tons of people across the nation tuned into ESPN for the reveal of the updated College Football Playoff rankings.

The top three teams seemed like locks in any order with Ohio State, LSU and Clemson sporting undefeated records. Meanwhile, Alabama and Penn State stumbled against a pair of undefeated teams, shaking up the top.

The committee placed LSU at No. 1, followed by Ohio State and Clemson. The fourth spot goes to… Georgia? Yup, a team that couldn’t even handle a 4-6 South Carolina team in Sanford Stadium.

If you can somehow ignore that loss (you shouldn’t), Georgia is just OK. The Bulldogs knocked off Notre Dame — the No. 16 team in the College Football Playoff rankings — at Georgia and No. 12 Florida at a neutral site. Both wins are solid, but the margin of each win was no more than a touchdown.

Now, let’s compare with the Crimson Tide. Alabama’s schedule is soft, no doubt about it, but the team’s steamrolled the bad teams on the schedule. The best win is probably on the road at Texas A&M (receiving votes), winning by 19.

Addressing the loss to LSU, I think LSU is the best team in the country, and the committee agrees. During the lone loss, Alabama fell behind 10-0 early on and trailed by 20 at halftime. The Tide tacked on a touchdown in the third quarter and grabbed three more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Despite outscoring LSU 28-13 in the second half, Alabama lost by five.

Personally, I want the highest quality of play in the College Football Playoff, and Alabama provides better play than Georgia in my opinion. I’ll take the team with a five-point loss to the top team, blowout wins over everyone else and a recent history of consistently dominating opponents (outside of Clemson last year). Instead, we’re rolling with a team that eked out wins over good but not great teams and lost at home to a middle-of-the-pack South Carolina in a top-heavy SEC?

Looking outside the SEC, how does Alabama compare with other schools? Oregon and Utah come in at sixth and seventh behind Alabama. Oregon owns a loss to Auburn, and Utah dropped one to USC. Utah has a single-digit win over Washington, and Oregon has close wins over Washington and Washington State.

The Pac 12 teams are a little tougher to compare, but I’ll still take Alabama. None of the teams in the trio of schools possess too tough of a schedule, but I’d think of this angle by comparing the teams by roster.

If you put Alabama on a neutral field against Oregon or Utah, who’s winning? Don’t overcomplicate it, Alabama is head and shoulders above any Pac 12 team this year, and the committee got that correct.

With the Big 12, if you’ve watched much of No. 13 Baylor and No. 10 Oklahoma the past couple games, you understand why each team is ranked where it is. Neither has been sharp lately.

Lastly, spare me your No. 8 Minnesota takes. Nice win over Penn State, Gophers, and if you can knock off Iowa in Kinnick (Minnesota won’t) and Wisconsin at home, then I’ll entertain the idea.

I can’t trust a team that struggled with Georgia Southern, Fresno State, South Dakota State and Purdue, nor a team that would lose by 20 to Alabama. Minnesota’s a nice story and had one nice upset win at home, but it doesn’t have the talent to even hang close with the Crimson Tide.

Using metrics, Alabama should be a top four team, too. ESPN’s FPI ranks the Tide at No. 3, FiveThirtyEight puts them at No. 4 and Jeff Sagarin’s rankings places them at No. 3.

Give us the best teams that will provide the best product on the field, which includes Alabama. That’s all I’m asking for.