College Football Playoff: Sorting out the Georgia, Alabama and Minnesota Mess

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 09: Head coach P.J. Fleck of the Minnesota Golden Gophers and his team take the field against the Penn State Nittany Lions at TCFBank Stadium on November 9, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Not every undefeated record is created equal. Neither is every one-loss record. Context matters. 

Right now, the College Football Playoff selection committee has one part right within the Top 10 of the newest poll.

Despite a recent loss to LSU, Alabama deserves its place as a Top Five team in the country heading into Week 12. And Minnesota, though it earned an impressive win over then-No. 4 Penn State, is rightfully positioned at eighth.

But, uh, Georgia at No. 4? Look, let's not stress out terribly. One way or another, we're going to find out the correct placement for every single program.

Minnesota may feel slighted by this ranking, but the Golden Gophers struggled early in the season against mediocre teams. Besides, they have too many marquee games remaining on the schedule to end up stuck at No. 8. They'll move up and down in the rankings depending on their future results.

Consistency is the issue, though.

Georgia has wins over Florida and Notre Dame but lost to South Carolina. Alabama dominated every opponent before losing to LSU, but the committee valued marquee victories in that discussion.

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Until Minnesota, apparently?

To this point, seventh-ranked Utah has looked excellent. Still, its best victories are against four-loss teamsArizona State, BYU, Cal and Washington. How does a Penn State victory not boost the Gophers over the Utes?

Again, we're not freaking out.

If the Gophers finish 13-0, there's no chance P.J. Fleck's team will be ranked behind the Pac-12 winner or an SEC non-champion. They'd pick up massive victories over Iowa, Wisconsin and likely Ohio State along the way.

Or, Minnesota will lose, and this portion of the conversation will be moot. That's a reasonable acknowledgment.

But what is the committee weighing most heavily? There's already a clear contradiction within the Top Eight.

Georgia plays Auburn this weekend, and a third marquee victory is the foundation of a strong argument to boost the Bulldogs over Alabama. Right now, though, they're not being penalized for a bad loss. Yet three spots away, Utah doesn't have anywhere close to the top victory of Minnesota and is one spot higher.

The committee's inconsistency is frustrating.


Keep on Winning, Clemson

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - NOVEMBER 09: Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Clemson Tigers drops back to pass against the North Carolina State Wolfpack during their game at Carter-Finley Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Le
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

After holding a No. 5 ranking in the initial poll, Clemson has hopped into the desired area of the CFP rankings. The Tigers are now positioned third in the country.

Through all the early-season critiques of Trevor Lawrence, the team just kept on winning. Yes, the Tigers nearly collapsed at North Carolina, but they've since rattled off five straight victories of 31-plus points. They own eight such triumphs within a 10-0 record and have allowed a total of 81 points this season.

Psst, Clemson is still pretty darn good.

Wake Forest's loss to Virginia Tech sealed the Tigers' spot in the ACC Championship Game, but that's basically a complementary detail. Because of Clemson's low strength of schedule, it is unlikely to earn a CFP berth as a one-loss team.

As it's been effectively all season for Dabo Swinney's club, each remaining game is a win-or-go-home situation. Clemson hosts Wake Forest this weekend and then travels to rival South Carolina on Nov. 30.

If the Tigers keep on winning, there will be no substantial change. Stay undefeated, and they're staying in the Top Four.


Battle for the Big 12

NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 29: Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb #2 of the Oklahoma Sooners runs the sideline on the way to score against the Baylor Bears at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Baylor
Brett Deering/Getty Images

When the weekend is over, the Big 12 will have a single team remaining in the CFP conversation. Baylor is 9-0 overall and 6-0 in league action, and the Bears host Oklahoma (8-1, 5-1) in a showdown for that coveted front-runner status.

The loser will be eliminated from the CFP conversation. It's really that simple.

In all likelihood, there will be one CFP spot available; the Big Ten champion, the SEC champion and Clemson are trending for three. Oklahoma cannot afford to have a second loss on its resume, because either Alabama or the Pac-12 winner would be a more appealing choice.

And Baylor, well, let's face reality. The Bears checked in 12th last week and actually dropped to 13th. The committee does not have a favorable view of them.

Even if the Bears managed to beat Texas, Kansas and exact revenge on OU in the Big 12 title game, they probably wouldn't leap a handful of teams in the final rankings. Their only path to the playoff is winning outand likely with two wins over Oklahoma.

Fair? Maybe not. That, however, is the truth.

Oklahoma itself isn't guaranteed a CFP spot at 12-1 with a conference crown. That debate may be between OU, Alabama and the Pac-12 winner, and there's a realistic argument for all three. Unless there are upsets to the current Top Three, the Sooners will be stuck in "hope for the best" mode.

Only one of these scenarios will matter by Saturday night because Baylor or Oklahoma will no longer be in the CFP race.


Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.


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