Since its inception in 2014, it seems like the College Football Playoff Selection Committee has annually omitted worthy teams in favor of bigger name schools. This year is no different thus far; in their first ranking of the year, the Committee signaled their belief that a one-loss Alabama team is the second-best team in the country, despite solid evidence to the contrary.
First of all, losing to Texas A&M shouldn’t be overlooked or ignored. Not only did the Tide lose, but the Aggies offense scored 41 on the usually dependable Bama defense. Although the Aggies have immense talent on both sides of the ball, they weren’t ranked at the time and had lost their previous two games, suffering a bad loss to Arkansas and then an inexplicable head-scratcher against Mississippi State. Besides the blemish in the loss column, the Crimson Tide don’t have a single big win on their resume. Beating Ole Miss was impressive, but doesn’t hardly classify as a big win given Ole Miss’s struggles against quality competition. In their defense, ‘Bama beat Miami, and Florida who were both ranked at the time. Still, neither Florida nor Miami are currently ranked, and the pair have both melted down as the season has progressed. ‘Bama has LSU and Auburn left on the schedule but neither is up to their usual standard; ‘Bama winning their last few games shouldn’t move the needle.
Putting Bama over Michigan State, Oregon, Cincinnati, and Oklahoma is highway robbery. All but Oregon are undefeated, however Oregon does have impressive wins over UCLA and Ohio State, who was ranked third at the time. Michigan State is sitting pretty atop the Big Ten at 8-0. Like Bama, Michigan State has also beaten Miami, but they also have what ‘Bama lacks: a win against an elite team, having beaten a then-undefeated University of Michigan last weekend. Additionally, Michigan State still has a huge game against fifth-ranked Ohio State that will carry major playoff implications.
In this sense, Alabama’s closest comparison would be the Cincinnati Bearcats and Oklahoma Sooners. Although Cincy and Oklahoma are both undefeated, they’ve each benefited from soft schedules and have only one impressive win (Cincy’s road upset of Notre Dame) between them. That said, both teams have actually managed to take care of business in all of their games, remaining undefeated unlike Alabama. Both would be more deserving playoff participants than Alabama.
All in all, the playoff system was put in place to ensure fairness to all conferences. Thus far, it hasn’t changed and has evolved into a showcase for college football’s legacy programs rather than a true attempt to crown a champion. Every year, there’s a team being overrated based on prestige or a team being overlooked based on the conference they play in. The good news is it's November and each team has more time to prove their case. The bad news is that it might not matter what most teams actually do.