Auburn’s Win over Alabama Muddles CFP Picture

auburn-beats-alabamaThe No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide and No. 6 Auburn Tigers played the biggest game during rivalry weekend. And the Tigers pulled off the upset in their home stadium, winning 26-14.

This means that only two undefeated teams remain in college football, including Wisconsin and Central Florida. It also throws the College Football Playoff picture into chaos with three SEC teams still in the running.

Auburn will take on the No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC championship game in two weeks. The winner will likely earn a spot in the CFP. The Tigers destroyed Georgia at home two weeks ago, knocking the then-No. 1 Bulldogs from the nation’s top ranking. That said, Georgia will likely have revenge on their minds come December 2.

Alabama had a chance to come back when they were down 20-14. But self-inflicted mistakes prevented them from coming back in the final quarter.

One included a snap that quarterback Jalen Hurts wasn’t expecting. The Crimson Tide had yet another unexpected snap on fourth down, but they were bailed out because the Tigers had 12 men on the field.

Another mistake occurred when Alabama was trying to convert a 4th-and-3. But receiver Robert Foster ran a 2-yard crossing route, then failed to immediately turn upfield when he caught the ball and was tackled short of a first down.

Alabama also had a situation where running back Damien Harris jumped offside when Auburn was punting. This gave the Tigers a first down and allowed them to run two more minutes off the clock late in the fourth quarter.

kerryon-johnson-vs-alabamaOne more gaffe included holder JK Scott fumbling a snap during a field goal attempt. Alabama was forced to scramble and throw a pass, which fell incomplete. This left the Tide down by six points, when they had a chance to cut the lead to 20-17.

Auburn, meanwhile, grabbed a 20-14 lead after a 69-yard run that was capped off by a Kerryon Johnson TD run. The Tigers were able to pick up yardage all night thanks to strong inside running and perimeter passing.

Johnson was the team’s MVP, rushing for 104 yards and even throwing a touchdown pass. Johnson had to leave the game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury. But he’d done enough to help Auburn pull off the mini-upset.

Auburn Has a Strong Chance at the CFP

College football analysts have been debating back and forth who will be the four teams selected for the CFP. A lot has still yet to be decided with conference championship games coming up. But it appears that the Tigers now control their destiny, even with two losses.

Again, they play Georgia in the SEC championship game. And given how they beat the bulldogs by 23 points last time out, they have to like their chances.

Alabama will Likely Get into CFP

nick-saban-alabama-1Alabama is in a strange position this year because they won’t be playing for the SEC title. Normally this would drastically hurt a team’s chances of making the playoffs. But Alabama still has a very good shot at getting into the mix.

They’re in a similar situation to Ohio State last year. The Buckeyes were also 11-1, but they didn’t get to play in the Big Ten Championship due to a loss at Penn State. Despite not even winning their division, Ohio State still earned one of the four CFP spots.

The Tide aren’t an automatic shoe-in at 11-1. Plus they won’t get to impress the selection committee in a conference championship game.

But it’s import to remember that the Big Ten is the only Power 5 conference with an undefeated team. The Pac 10 probably won’t get anybody into the CFP. This means that an ACC or Big 12 champion could be kept out of the playoffs if Alabama gets a nod.

Who Else Has Strong CFP Chances?

The Wisconsin Badgers finished out the regular season with a perfect 12-0 record. They’ll now face the Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship game. A win here will put the undefeated Badgers into the CFP.

kelly-bryant-clemson-starterThe Clemson Tigers are likely to get in as well if they can beat the Miami Hurricanes in the ACC title game. Miami, meanwhile, has a tougher road because their rivalry-game loss to Pittsburgh puts them in a difficult position. Even a win over Clemson may not be enough to vault them over Alabama.

The Big 12 has a lot of questions to answer as well. Oklahoma will likely be a playoff team if they beat TCU In the conference championship game. But if the two-loss Horned Frogs win, the Big 12 probably won’t get a CFP bid.

With conference title games coming up in two weeks, the playoff picture will finally become clear. But we certainly can’t count the Tide out of the mix, even though they won’t be able to defend their SEC championship.

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