Rarely does Selection Sunday actually generate worthwhile uproar, but Alabama’s ascension to No. 4 fit the bill. Using a SEC Championship Game win over previously No. 1 Georgia as the last data point, the College Football Playoff selection committee brazenly bumped the Crimson Tide over undefeated (and ACC champion) Florida State from the field.
The justification for such an unprecedented decision — though, to be fair, the CFP has yet to not feature a team from the SEC — has fallen under the “different team” argument in light of Jordan Travis’ season-ending injury.
Right or wrong, Alabama is the benefactor for nearly opposite reasons. The Tide are viewed as a much different — and much better — team than the one that lost by 10 points at home to Texas in September. Nick Saban knows his team is improved but that it also could have been on the outside looking in.
“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,” Saban said on Sunday. “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.”
But now Alabama is in a position to make the most of its chance. Since being benched in September, quarterback Jalen Milroe has flourished and allowed the offense — once a question mark — to find an identity to go along with an elite defense capable of winning a national championship.
“We won 11 games in a row and beat the No. 1 team in the country, so we’re not the same team that we were when we played Texas earlier in the season,” Saban said. “We were kinda in transition at the quarterback position. It was unsettling. I think it affected our team.”
Alabama will play No. 1 Michigan in the Rose Bowl national semifinal on January 2 as the Crimson Tide look to win their first national championship since the 2020 season.