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Two for one: Alabama topples No. 1 Georgia for SEC title, leaps FSU for final playoff spot

TUSCALOOSA — A week removed from completing a touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal from the 31-yard line to keep national championship hopes alive, Alabama reaped a bonanza this past weekend in college football.

Saturday the Crimson Tide, which edged Auburn in an epic Iron Bowl finish, edged Georgia 27-24 Saturday for the SEC championship. Sunday, the College Football Playoff Committee awarded the Crimson Tide the fourth and final spot in the national championship tournament.

Michigan received the top seed, Washington is No. 2 and Texas No. 3. Undefeated Atlantic Coast Conference champion Florida State, which dropped from No. 4 to No. 5 in the CFP Rankings despite defeating Louisville 13-6 playing with its third-string quarterback because of injuries to improve to 13-0.

Therein was the committee’s problem with the Seminoles.

“This is just one of those years where — and there have been other years like this — where somebody that may have been deserving got left out,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban told CBS Sports. “Florida State, certainly, going undefeated did everything they could to get into the playoffs. Unfortunately, probably because of the injury to their quarterback, are not going to have that opportunity.”

Alabama (12-1) will play Big Ten champion Michigan (13-0), which was made a 1.5-point favorite by DraftKings, in the Rose Bowl (Jan. 1, 5 p.m., ESPN). Texas (12-1), which dealt Alabama its only loss, will play Pac 2 champion Washington (13-0) in the Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1, 8:45, ESPN). The Longhorns opened as a 4.5-point favorite.

The National Championship game is in Houston on Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

The Associated Press poll, which was once recognized as the go-to in determining the national champion but does not figure into the CFP formula, released its final poll just before the playoff rankings came out. The AP ranked Michigan, Washington, Texas, FSU, Alabama and Georgia in that order.

Meanwhile, leaving the Seminoles outside looking in created a social media stir and also didn’t set with their coach, athletic director or the ACC commissioner.

“I am disgusted and infuriated with the committee’s decision today to have what was earned on the field taken away because a small group of people decided they knew better than the results of the games,” FSU head coach Mike Norvell said in a statement after his team became the first undefeated, Power 5 conference team to be left out of the playoffs. “What is the point of playing games? Do you tell players it is OK to quit if someone goes down? Do you not play a senior on Senior Day for fear of injury? Where is the motivation to schedule challenging nonconference games?

“We are not only an undefeated P5 conference champion, but we also played two P5 non-conference games away from home and won both of them. I don’t understand how we are supposed to think this is an acceptable way to evaluate a team. … What happened today goes against everything that is true and right in college football.”

ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said it’s “It’s unfathomable.” Michael Alford, FSU AD, said the committee “failed college football today.”

“The consequences of giving in to a narrative of the moment are destructive, far reaching, and permanent. Not just for Florida State, but college football as a whole,” Alford said in a statement. “The argument of whether a team is the ‘most deserving OR best’ is a false equivalence. It renders the season up to yesterday irrelevant and significantly damages the legitimacy of the College Football Playoff.”

As it is, Alabama has won 11 straight since a 34-24 home loss to the Longhorns behind the resurgence of quarterback Jalen Milroe, who was benched earlier in the season for an unimpressive win over South Florida before returning with a vengeance.

“We won 11 games in a row and beat the No. 1 team (Georgia) in the country so we’re not the same team we were when we lost to Texas,” Saban said. “We were kinda in a transition at the quarterback position. It was unsettling. I think it affected our team.”

Alabama vs. Michigan (Alabama leads series 3-2):

  • 2020 Citrus Bowl (Jan. 1, Orlando) — Alabama 35, Michigan 16
  • 2012 season opener, (Sept. 1, Dallas) — Alabama 41, Michigan 14
  • 2000 Orange Bowl (Jan. 1, Miami) — Michigan 35, Alabama 34 (OT)
  • 1997 Outback Bowl (Jan. 1, Tampa) — Alabama 17, Michigan 14
  • 1988 Hall of Fame Bowl (Jan. 2, Tampa) — Michigan 28, Alabama 24

 

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