Bama can't afford a loss

These four teams likely need to run the table for relief on selection day

Originally Published: August 14, 2014
By Brad Edwards | ESPN Insider

Charles Tapper and TJ YeldonIcon SMI, USA TODAY SportsBoth Oklahoma and Alabama may need to go undefeated to reach the College Football Playoff.

During the BCS and other previous eras of college football, a major complaint about the preseason polls was that they created a pecking order among teams that made it very difficult for any one outside of the top 10 to survive a loss and still win a national title.

Last year's Auburn Tigers, however, didn't appear on a single preseason ballot, suffered their only loss in September and still played Florida State in the BCS Championship Game. And now that the College Football Playoff will give four teams a shot at a national title -- and since the selection committee won't even begin to discuss the teams until late October -- there's little reason to believe that preconceived notions in August should have anything more than a minuscule effect on the postseason picture moving forward.

But while preseason rankings now have less impact on a team's postseason outlook, some teams will still have a tougher time overcoming a loss than others.

Of the top 15 teams in the ESPN Power Rankings, these four will likely suffer the most.

• Analyzes college football and the CFB Playoff as part of ESPN's Stats & Information Group
• Analyst for both College GameDay on ESPN Radio and the ESPN College Football app