Zucker: "No Evidence" That Alabama Is A Top-Four Team

The Tide don't have a top-four resume, but don't be surprised if they remain in the top four in the rankings

The DA Show
November 12, 2019 - 11:18 am
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The College Football Playoff committee will release its second set of rankings Tuesday night, and the biggest question on everyone’s mind is this: What will the committee do with Alabama?

Ranked No. 3 in the initial poll, Alabama lost at home to No. 2 LSU on Saturday. The Crimson Tide trailed by 20 at halftime and by 12 with less than two minutes to play, ultimately losing 46-41.

While many analysts believe Alabama is still alive for the College Football Playoff, is there evidence that Nick Saban’s squad is a top-four team in the country?

“There is no evidence; there’s only the guesswork,” CBS Sports college football analyst Adam Zucker said on The DA Show. “When I rank my teams for the AP every week, I just think, ‘Who would I take on a neutral field: Alabama or Oregon?’ On that one, I’m 50/50 right now. That’s why I think they’re 4 and 5. But I wouldn’t take Georgia to beat Alabama. I wouldn’t take Utah, Minnesota, Penn State or Oklahoma. Maybe Oklahoma in an all-out shootout, but Oklahoma has its own problems defensively.”

So does Alabama. Joe Burrow torched the tide in Tuscaloosa, finishing 31-of-39 for 393 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 64 yards, helping LSU build a 33-13 halftime lead. 

At that point, Zucker had one overarching thought.

“This reminds me of the Clemson game,” he said, referring to Clemson’s 44-16 win over the Tide in the national championship. “Alabama can’t stop LSU’s offense, they got into a little bit of a panic, they tried to go for something before the half and ended up giving up another touchdown. Now that second half was unbelievable, and I was convinced that Alabama was going to win the game. Once they got within six, I thought, ‘OK, they’re going to make that defensive stop now.’ There were a couple of moments where they were getting to Joe Burrow. But in clutch, short-down situations, they couldn’t bring him down, and we know they couldn’t bring down Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He torched them.”

The junior tailback carried 20 times for 103 yards and three touchdowns and added nine catches for 77 yards and a score through the air.

If Alabama wins out, it would likely finish the season with just one win over a ranked team. Its playoff resume would be shoddy, at best.

Unfortunately for the rest of the country, we’ve been down this road before.

“I’m not saying Bama over Clemson or Ohio State or LSU,” Zucker said. “But I have trouble thinking they’re going to fall down below a lot of these other teams that they’re jumbled up with in the one-loss region – or even Minnesota and Baylor as the undefeated (teams).”

But isn’t it problematic if Alabama reaches the playoff once again without winning its conference title? Especially given its weak schedule and how poorly it played in the first half against LSU?

“Absolutely, yeah, it could be problematic,” Zucker said. “But Alabama has been the king of the team that doesn’t get to the conference championship game, hangs out on the sideline and gets into the playoffs because everybody else takes on too much carnage.”

In the end, it’s anyone’s guess what the committee does – either tonight or in the final rankings Dec. 8.

“The committee is different every year,” Zucker said. “Things can change. They can elevate teams for winning conference championships – although people think the conference championships get you extra points. They don’t. It’s only when they can’t decide between two, three or four teams and they’re trying to figure out where does this team have an edge? Otherwise it’s one giant eye test, and Alabama benefits from it being an eye test, as do any programs who are traditional powers that have players, and even coaches, who year after year deliver. . . . It’s a big puzzle, and some people miss the computers. I don’t. I prefer it all being human.”