Is second-ranked Clemson gaining ground on Alabama in the College Football Playoff Top 25?
Playoff chairman Rob Mullens answered the question during Tuesday’s reveal show on ESPN when pressed by host Rece Davis to opine on the gap between the Crimson Tide and Tigers.
“There’s a lot of conversation around both of those teams and when you look at them at this point, they’re complete teams,” Mullens said. “They’re very strong on offense and very strong on defense. As you look at the last couple of weeks, Alabama with two consecutive shutouts which certainly impressed the committee and Clemson and how their defense played on the road at Boston College last weekend. The only score was a special teams score. (Alabama and Clemson) are still 1-2 at this point after Week 11.
“We spent a lot of time talking about the (gap), but I don’t know that we’ve put a definition around the gap. When you load up the metrics, they’re both Top 10 offense and Top 10 defense, but at this point everybody has Alabama 1 and Clemson 2.”
ESPN analyst David Pollack believes as long as the Crimson Tide and Tigers continue to dominate, part of the conversation within the selection committee before the final four is announced in December will center around potential matchups and ensuring competitive games in the semifinals.
That is not part of the committee’s protocol or selection criteria, by the way.
“At some point, ‘who is going to give Alabama the best game’ is going to enter our thought process,” Pollack said. “It will come into play. The best team is the one that’s going to show up and give the best fight, the most consistently in the Playoffs. To me, it’s very interesting. Like if Michigan plays Alabama, that’s a very bad matchup.”
Davis vehemently disagreed with Pollack’s insinuation.
“That should not be part of the evaluation,” Davis said.
Pollack’s rebuttal: “It’s going to be part of the dialogue. Just like Ohio State not going last year. It’s because the (selection committee) knew they wouldn’t show up consistently.”
When you start talking about teams with the likelihood of being left out, you have to take into consideration the losses — where they came and by how much. The Buckeyes, ranked 10th this week, have the bad 29-point loss at Purdue while a team like Michigan, winners of nine straight, lost be a touchdown three months ago at Notre Dame.
As it stands according to early Vegas odds, Alabama would be a double-digit favorite against every team in the postseason except Clemson, a team the Crimson Tide have battled three consecutive years in the Playoff. Latest projected odds favor Alabama by 8 points over the Tigers, depending on your preferred bookmaker.
Before any of that comes to fruition, Alabama is focused on winning out to ensure the top seed in the semifinals when the final four is announced in a couple of weeks.