A team that everyone thought was unbeaten all season proved that reality is insurmountable.
1st place, 12-0 Georgia entered the SEC championship Saturday as the favorite by 6.5 points over No. 3 Alabama. Bulldogs boasts the most solid defense in the country with effective and efficient attacking play. None of that matters against Nick Saban, Bryce Young and Alabama, who beat Georgia 41-24 to give the Bulldogs their first loss of the season.
That begs the question: What happens to Georgia now? More specifically: Does the Bulldogs’ loss to Alabama create a potential path to the playoffs for 11-1 Notre Dame and 11-2 Big 12 championship Baylor?
Georgia was seen as the backstop for the College Soccer League going into Saturday’s game, even if it lost. No one expected the Crimson Tide to beat Kirby Smart and Co., especially so easily as they did. But the Bulldogs’ workload was still enough to grant them access to the College Rugby Round. The only question is if they fall to 3rd or 4th place.
Sporting News shared that, even if it loses, Georgia shouldn’t worry about getting a jump from Notre Dame or Baylor after the weekend’s convention championship:
CFP credentials: Georgia vs. Notre Dame and Baylor
|Team||Take note||Conference title|
|Notre Dame||11-1||N / A|
|Baylor||11-2||Yes (Grand 12)|
Georgia has the most wins. The Bulldogs’ record will likely be closer than Notre Dame’s as both teams have a loss, but the Bulldogs have the added benefit of playing in the conference championship over the weekend while the Fighting Irish remains idle.
The Bears are the only team that can boast a conference championship, but that might not be so much if they have two losses. In the playoff era, only one precondition is constant: You can’t lose two games. That unwritten rule has cost Penn State (2016) and Ohio State (2017) and will likely cost the Bears losses in 2021.
Rank reflects the loss at the time of defeat
|Georgia||No. 3 Alabama||41-24|
|Notre Dame||No. 7 Cincinnati||24-13|
|Baylor||No. 19 Oklahoma State||24-14|
Once again, Georgia is ahead of Notre Dame and (especially) Baylor in terms of the most losses. Alabama, ranked 3rd by the time they beat Georgia, will undoubtedly be the top team in Sunday’s playoffs, which will stand out with the Bulldogs’ playoff record. Notre Dame also lost to fourth-placed Cincinnati, but lost at home when the Bearcats were ranked seventh in the country.
Meanwhile, Baylor avenged one of only two defeats of the year by beating fifth-place Oklahoma State in a failed 24-14 rematch earlier in the season, ranked 19th at the time. If that was the Bears’ only loss of the year, they could very well have jumped into the top 4 – or at least, have a better claim to go up. But the loss in Week 10 to the 3-9 TCU team was a killer. Even if it’s Baylor’s sole loss, it simply doesn’t compare to Georgia or Notre Dame.
Win against ranked opponents
|Team||Ranked Victory||The team is defeated||Scored|
|Georgia||No.3||No. 20 Clemson||10-3|
|No. 22 Arkansas||37-0|
|No. 23 Kentucky||30-13|
|Baylor||No.3||No. 5 Oklahoma State||21-16|
|No. 12 BYU||38-24|
|No. 14 Oklahoma||27-14|
Georgia claims the same number of ranked wins as Baylor (three) while Notre Dame claims no. Like the Bulldogs, the Bears have one win on single possession and two wins on double possession. But the Bears’ wins are now ranked higher than Georgia’s, and have a better overall record than Georgia (31-6 vs. 26-10).
The question remains: Will that be enough for Baylor to two losses past a Georgia team that has set an AP Top 25 record as the #1 consensus team for eight consecutive weeks?
The power of schedules/profiles
This is where things get complicated. Georgia has the worst schedule to date, 6 places behind Notre Dame (50) and 13 places behind Baylor (43). But it clearly has the best record power, which ESPN defines as, “the probability that a team in the top 25 on average can hit a team’s record based on the particular schedule that team has faced.” .” It basically measures how likely a team in the top 25 on average can have the same performance against a given team’s schedule.
What does it mean? Georgia has weaker overall strength on the fixture list but has played well enough that no other team – Notre Dame and Baylor – can claim a good chance of remaining unbeaten. Indeed, prior to Saturday’s game, Georgia had by far the highest ranked win ratio of any other team in the country, according to TeamRankings.com: 32.4 ppg, compared to Notre Dame (17.0 ppg) and Baylor (9.9 ppg).
ESPN has yet to update its FPI rankings after Saturday’s games but, entering conference championship weekend, Georgia clearly has the top FPI rating in the country, defined by ESPN as “the system” Predictive ratings use advanced analytics to gauge team strength.” So the higher the rating, the stronger the team.
Entering Saturday, Georgia announced an FPI rating of 29.9, its first good nationally. Notre Dame’s 17.1 rating is fifth, while Baylor’s 11.2 is 18th nationally. Only two other teams ranked in the 20s in terms of FPI ratings: Alabama (24.4) and Ohio State lost two (24.3).
Alabama will qualify for the knockout round. Ohio State, which had two losses and was inactive on Saturday, would not be. The other teams in the playoffs in Cincinnati and Michigan – if that team wins the Big Ten championship – will be the other two in the playoffs. In the end, that’s what it turned out to be: Georgia dominated for so long that no result on Saturday could keep it out of the playoffs.
Notre Dame has only one loss, and Baylor has the Power 5 conference championship. But that ultimately doesn’t match Georgia’s season-long dominance.