What was once a hypothetical…

… is now a legitimate question.

Then, of course you have the rivalries. There are no rivalries like college football rivalries. For many fans there is no better salve for a rough season than the opportunity to destroy that of their most hated opponents. The Iron Bowl is one of the sport’s iconic games, right up there with Georgia-Florida and Michigan-Ohio State. Those games have always meant more to the participants and their faithful followers.

Until now.

With Notre Dame and Clemson looking like locks to make the playoff and all three of the other Power Five conferences still sporting one-loss favorites, combined with an Alabama schedule that has been heavily criticized, it is highly unlikely that the Tide will make the cut as a conference runner-up this season. Lose to Auburn and beat Georgia in Atlanta, and they’re in. Reverse the two and they are out. It’s that simple.

In other words, the Iron Bowl means absolutely nothing to Alabama this year in terms of the conference or national championships.

Keeping that in mind, it has to be tempting for Saban to treat the last game of the season like a NFL team that has clinched its spot….

I’m not saying Saban should, mind you.  But it’s not a totally speculative consideration, either.  And it’s only going to be more so after the CFP expands the field again.

In this case, it’s sort of moot, since Alabama’s second team is good enough to beat the Tigers at home.  Expect Saban to split the baby by sitting his starters early and often after kickoff.

25 Comments

Filed under Alabama, BCS/Playoffs

25 responses to “What was once a hypothetical…

  1. PTC DAWG

    I call BS, it means everything…the writer of that article is clueless.

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  2. sniffer

    To your point, is there any way Tua plays more than ten minutes total the next two weeks? They’re crushing defenses because there’s poison in any approach. Lose #13 and lose the war. Hurts ain’t winning anything this year and UA won’t win with only a running game. IMO.

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  3. Derek

    Lets hope auburn can keep it close enough to make that plan impossible.

    I don’t think Saban can just lose the game like a nfl team that clinched its spot could. Not in Tuscaloosa.

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  4. Randall Adams

    Oh, I think that beat down they took on the Plains still stings. Even though Georgia took some revenge in the SEC Championship Game, it was still evident when we decide to fake a FG at the end of the game. Kirby clearly hasn’t forgotten Auburn throwing down field late in the game they won at home last year.

    I expect Saban to run it up and pull Tua once the game is well in hand…

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  5. Greg

    “Lose to Auburn and beat Georgia in Atlanta, and they’re in. Reverse the two and they are out. It’s that simple”

    Their sorry asses should not have been in last year, you don’t win your conference…you do not belong. Yes, I know the argument…but fock’em anyway.

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    • I guess Notre Dame is doomed, then.

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      • Greg

        Happened to TCU a few years ago, they were ranked #3 to close the regular season. No conference championship game at the time, they ruled them out.

        Good enough for TCU, good enough for Notre Dame. Fock them too (ND).

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      • PTC DAWG

        We gonna play ND in Dallas. Book it.

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      • Macallanlover

        ND should have to play Clemson, they are a half arse conference member but doesn’t have to face the best with sa play-in. Not their fault, just didn’t have the schedule for it, but it is like the ACC, of all conferences will get 2 teams in the Final 4. Not going to change, but if they are undefeated and highly ranked the conference should have the right to select the 2 teams for the playoff, similar to the Big 12. ND and Clemson have the two easiest paths in to the playoffs of all the contenders.

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  6. dawgfan

    Ask Bill Curry if the Auburn game is meaningless.

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    • Uglydawg.

      Especially after Auburn beat them last year. Two years in a row of having Auburn people tell you about “the streak” would be more than a lot of the rickety brained ‘Bama fans could take. No, they wouldn’t fire Saban, but they would be pissed off enough to make his life miserable enough for him to walk away.

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  7. I still think there is a decent chance ND slips up.
    If Alabama loses SECC, they still may get in.

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  8. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    I wouldn’t agree that Bama has to win the SECCG to be in the playoffs. They didn’t even play in the SECCG game last year, their schedule last year was at least as subject to criticism as this year’s and they still got in.

    And then they won it.
    Clem’s Son looks good and has run up the score on mostly weak opponents and they are undefeated. Agree they are in barring a massive collapse.

    Our Old Lady has played well this year and they have a following like nobody else, except maybe….Bama. Barring a collapse, they are in.

    I think Bama would have to lose 2 games to not make it, and I don’t see that happening. Michigan will be odd man out if we beat Bama, not Bama.

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  9. UGA '97

    Wrong. Saban WILL get an invite as an undefeated team losing to UGA. The narrative was already started weeks ago when all the conferences went to shut here’s looking at you Big 12 ACC and Big 10. I can see a 1 loss Bama runner up edging out notre dame. Bet on it.

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  10. Chopdawg

    Why should they evrn worry about Tua? They’ve got all the officials on their side.

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  11. Castleberry

    If Bama wins out and loses a close one to us they are still in. Michigan & OU aren’t winning out.

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  12. Macallanlover

    Not a chance Saban plays the Iron Bowl like an NFL team that has clinched. This argument always comes up, but has yet to ever show up. This will be about the 8th time UGA has had the opportunity against Tech, Florida has had the opportunity against FSU, SC had ti against Clemson once, Clemson has had t a few times against SC, etc., etc. Saban will play to win. He certainly may need to rest either Tua and/or Jalen, but he will not let the game get close because he was mailing it in.

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  13. CB

    Interesting perspective. The game obviously isn’t meaningless. There is certainly diminished value, but the idea that Saban would willingly lower his program’s resume down into a pool that could include three other one loss conference champions is pretty ridiculous.

    That said, in the face of the “impending doom of future expansion” I see two solutions to the problem (one which includes expansion ironically enough)

    Move rivalry games earlier in the year (Not ideal, but at least they would retain their value).
    Expand the playoff to 6 teams. If a first round bye is on the line and there are two other undefeated teams then suddenly this game becomes a lot more important for the Tide.

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  14. CB

    As I recall they were saying similar things last year about the iron bowl, but I don’t remember seeing Nick Saban smile after the loss despite the eventual playoff berth that many saw coming.

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