After 58 minutes of a furious Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Alabama’s hopes of remaining within the College Football Playoff picture came down to a 30-yard-field goal try with two minutes remaining against No. 15 Auburn. However the kicking game has usually been the glaring weakness in Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide dynasty.
Sure enough, Alabama kicker Joseph Bulovas’s game-tying try hit the left upright and sealed Alabama’s 48-45 loss. The result knocked the Crimson Tide out of the playoff race and units up a abruptly wide-open scramble to finalize the 4 groups that play within the nationwide semifinals.
Saban criticized the Iron Bowl officiating after Saturday’s loss, pointing to a timing error that added a second to the clock within the first half that allowed the Tigers to kick a discipline objective and a misleading play drawn up by Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn on the ultimate drive of the sport.
“I actually really feel that it was a pretty unfair play on the end of the game,” Saban mentioned. “They substituted the punter as a wide receiver, so we put the punt crew in. After which when the quarterback was still in there we tried to place the protection again in. I believed they need to have given us a little extra time to substitute.”
Officials gave Alabama a 5-yard penalty on fourth-and-Four for fielding 12 men that resulted in a primary down for Auburn that allowed them to expire the clock and prevent this Iron Bowl from ending with a last-minute decisive score.
Beyond Jordan-Hare Stadium, three undefeated teams—Ohio State, LSU and Clemson—all gained large on Saturday. The trio appears to have a lock on the top three spots within the playoff rankings. However with Alabama out, 4 one-loss groups from three Power 5 conferences—Utah, Georgia, Oklahoma and Baylor—have a minimum of a shot of earning the final semifinal berth.
It regarded simple for the highest three, though Saturday had moments of potential catastrophe. In Ann Arbor, a hush fell over the Big House late within the third quarter as Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields limped off the sector and disappeared inside the medical tent. It regarded as if school soccer may see an damage fell a second Heisman-worthy quarterback within the span of three weeks and the playoff race would take a dramatic flip.
However after being replaced by backup Chris Chugunov for a number of performs on the drive, Fields trotted again onto the sector and connected with Garrett Wilson for a 30-yard landing go that put Ohio State up 26 points over No. 13 Michigan. The Buckeyes finally defeated Michigan 56-27 for the eighth year in a row, and don’t count on injury to carry Fields again in subsequent Saturday’s Massive Ten Championship in opposition to No. 12 Wisconsin.
“I obtained a bigger knee brace that I don’t wish to put on,” mentioned Fields, explaining that he solely exited the game to swap a slim cloth brace on his left knee for a extra inflexible steel one. “It’s simply all steel like linemen, like I’m not attempting to be up there like O-lineman.
In the meantime, No. Three Clemson stomped South Carolina 38-3, whereas No. 2 Louisiana State avenged its 2018 seven-overtime loss to Texas A&M with a 50-7 victory to shut out the evening. With all three undefeated groups favored to win their respective conference championships subsequent weekend, the largest query that remains in school soccer is which crew will the choice committee rank fourth?
It’s an advanced puzzle. First, there’s No. Four Georgia. The Bulldogs suffered a fluky October loss to South Carolina however have solely allowed one speeding landing all 12 months. Their rating might both go approach up or approach down pending subsequent weekend’s SEC Championship in opposition to LSU in Atlanta. A loss would take Georgia out of playoff competition. An upset win would give the Bulldogs the best high quality Week 15 win amongst one-loss playoff contenders. It could additionally depart the SEC with out an undefeated crew, which might truly enhance the convention’s probabilities of sending two groups to the semifinal.
In the meantime, No. 6 Utah stands to climb within the polls after Alabama’s loss and its personal 45-15 win over Colorado. The 11-1 Utes might earn the Pac 12’s first playoff berth since 2016 ought to they crush No. 14 Oregon within the convention championship. However their fortunes possible hinge on what occurs to Georgia subsequent weekend.
The Massive 12 has two groups contending for the fourth playoff spot in No. 7 Oklahoma and No. 9 Baylor, who will sq. off within the Massive 12 Championship subsequent Saturday. Their rankings will possible enhance subsequent week, and both crew would acquire yet one more high quality win over a top-ten opponent ought to they beat the opposite to win the Massive 12. As is the case with Utah, the larger the margin of victory for the Big 12 champion, the higher their probability of incomes a spot within the semifinal.
There are different problems. Clemson’s end-of-season rating is closely depending on the results of LSU-Georgia. Maybe one of the best ways to match the Tigers with the SEC’s different high groups is by one other soccer crew within the convention that’s barely bowl eligible: Texas A&M.
The 7-5 Aggies performed their second sport of the season in opposition to then-No. 1 Clemson, a good 24-10 loss. Texas A&M additionally performed Alabama when it was ranked No. 1, dropping 48-27 at house. 5 weeks later, the Aggies traveled to Athens, Ga., the place they had been edged out 19-13 by Georgia. They completed up the season with a crippling 43-point loss to LSU in Dying Valley.
That punishing schedule made Texas A&M the primary crew within the playoff period to play 4 faculties ranked within the high 5 on the finish of the season. By probability, that makes the Aggies a litmus take a look at for evaluating the 2 groups taking part in one another for the SEC Championship with final 12 months’s nationwide champion that’s been criticized for its soft schedule in 2019.
“Beneath regular circumstances I don’t suppose the committee delves that deeply into the rating of a sport, however on this occasion I feel they might be pressured to have a look at it,” mentioned school soccer statistician Richard Billingsley of the widespread opponent in Texas A&M.
If that’s the case, Clemson seems to be on equal footing with Georgia, however far behind LSU. Although the defending nationwide champions managed the Aggies from begin to end in September, they solely managed three touchdowns and a discipline objective—about half as many factors as they averaged of their subsequent 10 video games. In the meantime, LSU held Texas A&M scoreless by way of 36 minutes.
“If it comes down to essentially nitpicking issues for the committee,” mentioned Billingsley, “I feel that would very properly come into play.”