A season that had been so predictable for Alabama has now become anything but. The Crimson Tide were once a shoe-in to make the playoff, but after they lost to Texas A&M on Saturday, their chances of making it are as up in the air as ever. In this article we’ll discuss what this loss means for Alabama and how it will affect the rest of college football’s postseason picture moving forward.
A lot has been said in the last couple days about how much of a “blessing in disguise” this loss was for Bama. It’s undeniable that Alabama’s ceiling would have been even higher if they had beaten A&M, but it seems like most people don’t realize just how much of a blessing this loss really is.
Alabama was ranked #1 in the playoff rankings before their loss to A&M, and now they could go as low as out of the top 10 if Ole Miss defeats them next week (RTR this week: Alabama #11) . For those who don’t know, to make it into the playoff you have to be ranked in the top 4. It’s not quite as simple as just needing to stay in the top 10, but it is still a huge advantage for Alabama and other teams hoping to make the playoffs if they can finish out of the top 10.
If Alabama finishes 10th or lower, they would likely get into the Peach Bowl, which is not a bad consolation prize. This would be especially good for Alabama considering the fact that they’ve been in two consecutive SEC Championship games and were in another one last year. If they make it to the playoff this season after playing in three straight conference championship games, it will be extremely unlikely that they’ll ever get the chance to play in one again. Alabama has already played 14 consecutive weeks without a bye week, so getting an extra chance to rest up for the playoff would be huge for their chances of winning it all.
Alabama was destined to make the playoffs regardless of what happened against A&M, but now there is a lot less certainty surrounding the Crimson Tide. There are now six teams that could realistically win out and make the playoff, four of which are in the SEC. This means there is still room for chaos, so if enough top teams lose down the stretch it’s likely multiple two-loss teams will get into the playoffs over one-loss teams like Ole Miss and Baylor.
This loss also gives other teams a chance to impact the playoff picture if Bama were to lose again along the way. They still control their own destiny and only need one more win to clinch a spot, but they could very easily fall out of the top 10 with an SEC Championship Game loss if Ole Miss wins out and finishes 11-1 (RTR this week: Ole Miss #11). If they make the playoff after two losses and with an SEC Championship Game loss, it would likely open the door for multiple teams to get in with one loss.
The Rebels could be looking at a Sugar Bowl bid if they win out. It’s unlikely that they’ll move into the top 4, but it is possible if they can beat Bama and someone like Baylor or Ohio State loses another game before conference championships. Ole Miss doesn’t control their own destiny right now since they have to wait for Alabama to lose again, but things are looking up for them with teams like TCU and Ohio State losing already.
The Rebels are currently ranked #10, so they’ll need to win out against Arkansas, LSU, Missouri, Auburn, Mississippi State or Georgia Tech. They have the easiest schedule of any top 10 team left with only one opponent ranked higher than 50th in the F/+ rankings (#34 Alabama). If Alabama loses out, the Rebels will likely need to beat Bama in Atlanta to make it into the playoff. For now, things seem much less grim for Ole Miss than they did last week.
The Hogs are still alive! The Razorbacks can complete an incredible turnaround if they win out and finish 10-2 (RTR this week: Arkansas #10). They still have some work to do as they need Ole Miss to lose again and Alabama needs to lose twice, but it’s possible. The Razorbacks can make a mistake next week against Ole Miss and kill their chances of winning the SEC West if they turn the ball over five times like they did against LSU, but they do control their own destiny for the Sugar Bowl.
The Crimson Tide are still two wins away from playing in the SEC Championship game and making the playoff, but it’s looking like they will likely need to win out to make it happen. They can still finish with one loss if other contenders lose more games, but they’ll likely be cut down to size with two losses. Alabama needs #8 Michigan State, #3 Ole Miss (RTR this week: Ole Miss #11) and #18 LSU to win out in order for them to make it into the playoff as anything other than SEC champion or runner up.