College GameDay analyst Kirk Herbstreit believes Georgia — win or lose — could do enough in the SEC Championship Game against Alabama to impress the College Football Playoff selection committee ahead of this weekend’s final vote.
If all else goes according to plan elsewhere in the Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 title games, that would mean the Bulldogs could get in the final four over Ohio State and Oklahoma even if the top-ranked Crimson Tide win the SEC. They shouldn’t be penalized, Herbstreit says, for going toe-to-toe with the nation’s juggernaut.
“It’s subjective analysis, but you could make a case for it,” Herbstreit said during Tuesday’s appearance on Get Up!. “I think the way the (SEC Championship Game) plays out will go a long way in the argument post-game discussion into Sunday morning. If it’s a game like they had last year in the national championship and Georgia loses a close one like that, even with two losses, I personally think Georgia would have the very strong case (for the Playoff.).
“Their punishment for an 11-1 year will be to go playing Alabama. Ohio State? They get to play Northwestern. Oklahoma plays Texas. It’s a little bit different what Georgia has to go though and I think we need to take that into consideration at the end of the day. I’m not caught up in the ‘two losses, they’re automatically eliminated’ (stuff). If they play their tails off and lose a close one, I think they’ll have a case to be made.”
It’ll be interesting to see where the selection committee puts the Bulldogs (11-1) in Tuesday’s fifth Playoff rankings following Saturday’s convincing win over Georgia Tech. We expect Georgia to be placed at No. 4 behind Notre Dame and just ahead of fellow one-loss elites Oklahoma and Ohio State.
Like the Sooners and Buckeyes, the Bulldogs have a chance to leave a lasting impression on the committee with a standout performance against Alabama on Saturday. Unlike those two however, a close loss could be enough to pass the eye-test and prove themselves as a final four team.
Should Ohio State or Oklahoma lose to Northwestern or Texas, neither will be in final four contention.
Georgia is hoping to take what it learned from January’s loss to the Crimson Tide and take out Nick Saban’s team this time around. For Kirby Smart, he’ll try to become the first former assistant to take out Saban in a head-to-head matchup.
“They’ve got a great team. I don’t think anybody would argue that,” Smart said this week. “They’ve got very few deficiencies in any area, talented quarterback, explosive offense, and first thing you notice when they turn the tape on is how fast and how much they score. And they play some good teams in our conference and they still score a lot of points.
“Defensively they’ve gotten better throughout the year, got a really good football team, and we’ll be focused on our team this week and we’ll be working really hard to be at our best, and our best will be needed. We’ll have to play well on special teams, defense and offense and that’ll be our goal.”