Likewise, there remains paths in for No. 6 Notre Dame (11-1), No. 7 Ohio State (10-2) and Baylor (11-1), if any of the other title games do not hold form. However, the Fighting Irish might have trouble moving up. As an independent, their season is over without a conference championship game. Also, coach Brian Kelly quit to take the LSU job. Selection committee chairman Gary Barta said Tuesday that the committee does have the latitude to take into consideration player and coach absences for the final rankings.
The big move this week was Michigan moving up to No. 2 with its 42-27 win over Ohio State. The Wolverines (11-1) are in if they’re holding the Big Ten championship trophy after Saturday’s game against No. 13 Iowa (10-2). The Buckeyes fell five spots to No. 7.
“I would just tell you the committee was not surprised at the way Michigan played -- maybe, like everybody, a little surprised at the way the score ended up -- but just a complete team,” Barta said in a teleconference call with reporters. “And that’s how the committee’s felt about Michigan now for quite a while. And they showed it in a championship environment.”
If “chalk wins,” as the saying goes, then the Bulldogs will be the only one of the semifinalists to have previously played in the playoff. But should Bama beat Georgia for a seventh consecutive time and the rest of the teams hold form, there wouldn’t likely be a route for new blood to move up.
There’s more at stake for Georgia than just vanquishing the beast that has been Bama. The No. 1 seed in the semifinals gets to select which location it wants to play in. This year, that would be either the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas, or the Orange Bowl in Miami.
The Bulldogs haven’t played in the Orange Bowl since 1960. But nostalgia aside, they might prefer the controlled variables that come with playing in an indoor building such as the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium.
Lose to Bama on Saturday, and such decisions get made by someone else.