The push for the College Football Playoffs begins with week 10’s first playoff rankings of the 2018 season. There have been many surprises so far in this young college football season. It should come as no surprise that the Alabama Crimson Tide have been ranked number one for the entire season. This is from a combination of offensive and defensive efficiency, margin of victory, scheduling, and overall consistency. It is still early in the season but many feel that Alabama is, by far, the most deserving team. On Tuesday, the College Football Playoff Committee voted Alabama #1 in the inaugural CFB Playoff poll of 2018.
Alabama is simply the most dominant team this season
Alabama is ranked first overall due to many attributes and reasonings. The world knew of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and his impact with Alabama, but they never expected it to be this big of an impact. Because of Tagovailoa’s efficiency as a playmaker and leader, the Tide is ranked first overall in points per game (54.1), first in offensive efficiency (98.1), second in total yards per game (571), and fifth in passing yards per game (347.4). Tagovailoa’s dominance as an excellent decision maker, passer, and overall playmaker has brought a high amount of attention. Even after the bye-week, Tagovailoa has all first-place votes in our Heisman Rankings. Defensively, the Tide ranks second in defensive efficiency (91.9) and 10th in points allowed per game (15.9). This is not the same dominant defense from last year but they are still very consistent.
The Crimson Tide have been the most dominant and consistent team week-by-week against all of their opponents. In all eight of Alabama’s games this season, the Tide won by at least a 22-point margin. They have won with an average margin of victory of 37.9 points per game. This is with a schedule that is ranked 47th in the nation in strength of schedule rankings. This is without the upcoming matchups at number three LSU on Saturday night, hosting #18 Mississippi State, and Auburn. There is still room for the Tide to improve on both sides of the ball against more efficient opponents. While Clemson has a good schedule, the close win against Texas A&M and Syracuse weren’t convincing enough for the number one spot. If Alabama were to beat third-ranked LSU in Baton Rouge this Saturday, the eye-test would only favor the Tide more.
The Tide must be careful of being selected #1 early
Being coached under Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide have made the pursuit of perfection almost an obsession. Saban has the expectation for his team to not make mistakes even when they seem overwhelmingly dominate. This season is no exception as he sees the lack of presence in the run game offensively and too many mistakes on defense. The Tide are not strangers when it comes to playing with targets on their backs but that doesn’t mean they are perfect with that target. The last time Alabama had a perfect season was in 2009 when they went 14-0 including a victory over the Texas Longhorns in the BCS National Championship. The past four National Championships that Alabama has won has included a loss that the Tide have recovered from. Since 2008, in Saban’s second season with Alabama, the Tide have lost seven games as the number one ranked team.
That being said, the Tide has also won 66 games as the number one ranked team in the nation. There is a danger that comes along with the top spot of the season’s inaugural playoff rankings. Since 2014, the team ranked first overall in the first playoff rankings have reached the National Championship game but lost three out of the four times. The one exception was in 2014 when the Mississippi State Bulldogs lost two games after week 10 and finished 7th at the end of the regular season. No team who has received the first overall ranking at the end of the regular season has won the National Championship as well. The College Football Playoffs and the pursuit of the playoffs continues to be highly competitive and tough. For the Crimson Tide, they continue the pursuit for this year’s playoffs along with the pursuit of perfection.
Tide moving forward towards a huge matchup
Where most teams falter is the spotlight on them and how they respond. In 2014, Mississippi State was perfect until that first playoff ranking. Consistency is the main attribute that defines a team. This is especially true with this new postseason format entering its fifth season. Alabama is the only team in the nation who has appeared in all four College Football playoffs. The Tide have a chance to make it for a fifth time with no debate if they handle themselves week-by-week.
They continue their week-by-week journey with a rigorous matchup this week against LSU in Baton Rouge. Alabama currently has a seven-game win streak over the Tigers including the 21-0 National Championship victory in January of 2012. Past experiences will not be on the Tide’s mind as they play in a nightmare setting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a 7 pm kickoff.