No. 8 Alabama (11-1, 8-0 SEC) faces off against two-time reigning national champ and current-No. 1 Georgia (12-0, 8-0 SEC) in the SEC Championship on Saturday. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban believes a win over the Dawgs should be enough to earn his team a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff field. On Thursday, Saban went as far as campaigning for any one-loss SEC team to qualify, suggesting that both Georgia and Alabama deserve playoff berths if the Crimson Tide win.
"There should be some representation from the SEC regardless of who wins (the SEC Championship Game), absolutely," Saban told the Pat McAfee Show. "I think this is one of best leagues in the country. If you're a one-loss team and you played through (the SEC), I think you're one of the best four teams in the country."
Saban echoed the same message during in his press conference ahead of the matchup.
"I think that the SEC is one of the best conferences in the country," Saban said. "I think that Georgia is one of the best teams in the country -- one of the best four teams in the country. I think that if we beat them, we'd be one of the best four teams in the country because teams do -- there's a transformation that goes through the season. So, how are you playing now? How is your team now? How good are you now? I think that all of those things come into play. I think it would be a disrespect to the SEC if there isn't SEC representation in the final four. I do believe that."
Saban's comments come as Alabama looks to avoid missing the playoff in consecutive seasons for the first time since the format was implemented in 2014. The SEC has never been left out of the playoff, and is the only conference with that claim.
Whether or not Saban's wish is granted when the playoff field is revealed Sunday may be dependent on what happens in other conference title games. The current top four -- Georgia, Michigan, Washington and Florida State -- are all undefeated. The Crimson Tide also sit behind Texas and Oregon in the current rankings. The Longhorns beat Alabama head-to-head in Tuscaloosa earlier in the season.
Should the Wolverines, Huskies and Seminoles all win their respective conference title games to stay perfect and the Longhorns win the Big 12 Championship Game to finish 12-1, an Alabama victory over Georgia would certainly force the selection committee to make some tough calls. An undefeated Power Five team has never missed the playoff, but a potential SEC conundrum could leave the committee in an un-winnable situation that is bound to make at least one fanbase unhappy.