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Ohio State or Alabama: Which Team Deserves to be in College Football Playoff

Urban Meyer, Ohio State Buckeyes Football

Urban Meyer, Ohio State Buckeyes Football

Alabama or Ohio State? The College Football Playoff selection committee enters Selection Sunday tasked with deciding the toughest debate this system has seen in its four years of existence.

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban

Through the first three years of the CFB Playoff, the decisions on Selection Sunday have been relatively easy. But following the games on Championship Saturday, the committee has a tough decision. Will it choose the team with the better resume in Ohio State? Or will the committee go with the team that it seems to think is a better team in Alabama?

Regardless of which team the committee chooses, it will be making some history. Either the first two-loss team (Ohio State) or a second-team (Alabama) from the same conference is getting into the four-team playoff.

As indicated in the metrics below, Ohio State has an edge in resume. The Buckeyes have a conference championship, wins over likely top-10 teams in Penn State and Wisconsin and own a slight edge in strength of schedule. Alabama has clearly passed the committee’s eye test this season. Despite a weak resume going into November, the Crimson Tide ranked No. 2 and moved into the No. 1 spot before the loss to Auburn. Advanced metrics favor Alabama, and the Crimson Tide have seven wins over teams with a .500 record or better – compared to five for the Buckeyes.

While Ohio State’s resume is better, the committee will have a tough call to make when examining its resume and the two losses. The Buckeyes lost by 15 to Oklahoma and by 31 against Iowa. Even though the Big Ten title and top 25 wins work in the Buckeyes’ favor, how the committee views the 31-point loss against the Hawkeyes might be the deciding factor in whether or not this team makes the CFB Playoff. Athlon Sports gives a slight edge to Alabama, but there's a strong case for both teams. 

Here are some factors that will matter in deciding the No. 4 team in the CFB Playoff:

Ohio State or Alabama: Which Team Deserves to be in CFB Playoff

Overall Record

Alabama: 11-1

No conference championship

Ohio State: 11-2

Champion of the Big Ten


Alabama: 1

Lost to Auburn by 12

Ohio State: 2

Lost to Oklahoma by 15 and by 31 to Iowa

Top 25 Wins

Alabama: 2 (projecting Fresno State to fall out of top 25)

Ohio State: 3 (Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin)

Wins Over Teams With .500 or Winning Record

Alabama: 7

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Ohio State: 5

Advanced Metrics

(Note: As of Saturday night)


Alabama: 2

Ohio State: 1


Alabama: 1

Ohio State: 7


Alabama: 5

Ohio State: 9

Sagarin Ratings

Alabama: 1

Ohio State: 6


Alabama: 1

Ohio State: 2

Strength of Schedule (from Sagarin)

Alabama: 54

Ohio State: 42