So much for chalk.
No. 3 Alabama beat No. 1 Georgia 41-24 in the SEC championship game, not only upending the Bulldogs but also the College Football Playoff rankings. With that victory — the second upset of the day — the selection committee faces a slightly more difficult task with its top four teams.
One thing that’s certain: Alabama should reclaim its spot as the No. 1 team in the country. And Bryce Young (26 of 44 passing, 421 yards, three touchdowns, 40 rushing yards, one score) may very well have earned the nation’s Heisman Trophy vote. If his 97-yard drive against Auburn wasn’t his Heisman moment, then this performance against the nation’s top defense most certainly was.
But what does this loss by Georgia mean for the rest of college football at large? Sporting News breaks down what this outcome means for the likes of Notre Dame, Cincinnati and more:
Rankings reflect Week 14 College Football Playoff top 25
Previous rank: 2
Michigan is still alive and well in the playoff race, assuming it beats No. 13 Iowa in the Big Ten championship. A win there, however, creates the question: Do the Wolverines play No. 3 Georgia in the semifinal? Or does Cincinnati move up a spot, setting up an SEC championship rematch between the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs in the No. 1 vs. No. 4 semifinal? These are questions the selection committee must face. Of course, a loss by Michigan would further muddy the playoff picture, setting up a potential rush between the Wolverines, Baylor and Notre Dame for that fourth and final spot.
Previous rank: 3
What a difference a week makes. The Crimson Tide, a week after surviving 6-6 Auburn off a last-minute drive, headed to Atlanta and throttled the consensus No. 1 team in the country. That can only result in one thing: Alabama will be the No. 1 team in the country in the final playoff rankings. The question again is whether it faces Georgia, Cincinnati or some other team in the semifinal.
Previous rank: 4
The wait should finally be over for the Group of 5. Cincinnati, the only remaining undefeated team in the FBS. The Bearcats did everything in their power to cement their playoff status with a 35-20 over 11-2 Houston. Considering the Bearcats were the No. 4 team heading into the final week of play — and Notre Dame’s idle status and No. 5 Oklahoma State’s loss — the Bearcats should be in. The only question is whether at No. 3 or 4. It’s a historic moment for Cincinnati, the Group of 5 and college football in general.
Notre Dame (11-1)
Previous rank: 6
Notre Dame needed an upset during conference championship weekend to have a shot at the playoff. The Fighting Irish got it when the Cowboys lost to No. 9 Baylor in the Big 12 championship game. But the one thing that could not happen — an Alabama victory over Georgia — did, in fact, happen. With their victory in Atlanta, Alabama has likely placed two SEC teams among the top four. Cincy’s a lock considering its win. If Michigan wins, there’s nowhere for Notre Dame to move up. They will remain, at best, the first team out of the playoff.
Previous rank: 9
Baylor looked as if it had a chance to sneak into the playoff following its upset of No. 5 Oklahoma State. But the win by Alabama has likely ended any chance the Bears have of making the playoff, barring a Michigan loss. The Bears should be pleased with the way they ended their season, but they’ll likely have to settle for a New Year’s Day 6 berth after losing to a 3-6 TCU team in Week 10.
Previous rank: 13
Iowa still has to play Michigan in the Big Ten championship. A win there could potentially set up an interesting debate for the selection committee to parse through (11-2 Michigan vs. 11-2 Big Ten Iowa vs. 11-1 Notre Dame vs. 11-2 Big 12 Baylor) but it’s worth looking at that CFP ranking. Asking for a nine-spot jump in the rankings is likely going to be too much for the Hawkeyes.
Previous rank: 1
The bad news is that Georgia has lost its first game of the season and will not win the SEC championship. The good news is that Georgia has been so good all season that the Bulldogs are still considered a lock to make the playoff, even after their defeat. The defense had a bad performance, but you can’t discount a unit that entering Saturday’s game ranked first in total defense (230.4 yards per game) second in passing defense (151.5 yards per game) third in passing defense (78.9 yards per game) and first in points per game (an absurd 6.9 points per game). There’s work to be done, but the Bulldogs have earned a shot at another crack at the championship.