The Aggies’ playoff hopes were dealt what felt like a crushing blow when Alabama ended their undefeated season in Tuscaloosa, but the Aggies aren’t out of playoff contention just yet.
The easiest way to ensure a spot in the playoff is win all the games on your schedule. Unfortunately for Texas A&M they play in the same division as Alabama. With the dreams of an undefeated season gone there are still a few permutations that could send the Aggies to their first birth in the College Football Playoff.
Question 1: Can Texas A&M Win the SEC West?
Mathematically, yes. Realistically, only if Alabama has an Iron Bowl meltdown for the ages and LSU continues their remarkable resurgence under Coach Orgeron. Auburn (at Clemson) and LSU (at Wisconsin) both have out-of-conference losses, which would put them below both Texas A&M and Alabama in the secondary tie breaking procedures in the event of a three-way tie at the top of the division.
Unless of course Alabama is upset by Chattanooga. Then they’d have to lose just one other game. Yep, looks like the division title isn’t going to happen this year for the Ags. Who knows, maybe LSU beats Alabama in Baton Rouge and things suddenly get a lot more interesting.
Question 2: Can Texas A&M Win Out?
If they aren’t going to win the SEC championship outright that means the Aggies will need to solidify themselves as the best one-loss team in the country. More than likely a second loss would diminish the chances of a playoff bid from slim to none.
Texas A&M has games remaining against New Mexico State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, UTSA, and LSU. All of the contests are at home with the exception of the Mississippi State game. FPI projections show the Aggies as strong favorites in the first four of those games with their Thanksgiving showdown against the LSU Tigers being a tossup (Aggies have a 52.6% chance of winning). Texas A&M has not beaten LSU since joining the SEC. If they want a playoff chance, that’s going to have to change this year.
Question 3: How Many Undefeated Teams Will Survive?
With Ohio State falling to Penn State this weekend there are only nine undefeated teams remaining: Alabama, Michigan, Clemson, Washington, Nebraska, Baylor, West Virginia, Boise State, Western Michigan.
If we eliminate the Group of Five teams that reduces the number to seven.
Baylor travels to West Virginia. That leaves six.
If Michigan and Nebraska win out they’ll meet in the B1G title game. Five left.
The five remaining teams that could go undefeated would be Alabama, Clemson, Washington as well as the winners of a potential Nebraska/Michigan game and the winner between Baylor and West Virginia.
Both Michigan and Nebraska have to travel to Ohio State. Clemson travels to Florida State. Baylor and West Virginia have dates with Oklahoma. Washington has road games at Utah and Washington State. Alabama travels to Death Valley and ends the season with Auburn.
A big name seems to fall every week. The Aggies need there to be fewer than four undefeated teams at the end of the regular season to stand a chance. Then it’s a resume game.
Question 4: Whose Resume is Best?
An 11-1 season would give Texas A&M wins over UCLA, Arkansas, Auburn, Ole Miss, and LSU. At this point that’s all they can control. That resume likely looks better than a Big 12 resume with signature wins against Oklahoma State and TCU.
They’d likely be neck and neck with an 11-1 Clemson (who has a win over Louisville) and Louisville in the ACC. Although one could argue the Aggies have more quality wins than both of those teams, A&M lacks the Heisman candidate that each of those schools have under center. That definitely puts the Aggies at a disadvantage.
The Aggies have the “best loss” of any team in the country, possibly putting them above Nebraska, Ohio State, and Michigan if they were to drop a game along the way. The same reasoning would apply to Washington as well.
It’s a guessing game at this point, and the playoff committee has yet to put two teams from the same conference into playoff together. Regardless, it’s too early to abandon hope and now you have a list of teams to root against for the remainder of the season. When in doubt, the more chaos, the better it is for the Aggies.