The polls have spoken: Alabama is no longer a top-10 team.
Saturday night’s 43-37 loss to Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa was a candidate for Game of the Year, but its classic nature is little consolation to a Tide fan base that woke up to a 2-1 record for the first time since 2002.
What does this mean for Alabama’s College Football Playoff chances?
Let’s start with this: The Crimson Tide will likely be left out. If we’re looking at probability — and the team’s current question marks — it’s unlikely that Alabama will win 10 straight games (including the SEC Championship) and place a 12-1 record in front of the committee.
Yes, there is a chance that ‘Bama could sneak into the College Football Playoffs if it loses one more game, but that loss needs to be (A) timely and (B) close.
The Tide can’t afford to drop a random game later in the season (Nov. 14 at Mississippi State comes to mind), especially if that knocks the team out of the SEC Championship Game. There’s a chance that a two-loss team will represent the West division in Atlanta this December, but that’s a risky mindset to have, especially when the West champ has had one conference loss or fewer in each of the past seven seasons.
Also take into consideration that there are plenty of great teams outside of the conference. Either No. 1 Ohio State or No. 2 Michigan State will lock down a playoff spot (maybe both). No. 3 TCU or No. 5 Baylor seem primed to snag one more. Then there’s No. 6 Notre Dame, plus the Pac-12 (No. 9 UCLA, No. 13 Oregon) and the ACC (No. 10 Florida State, No. 11 Clemson).
The SEC stretch run is a gauntlet again this year. This Crimson Tide football team — you know, the one that just allowed back-to-back losses to Ole Miss for the first time ever — needs to saddle up and win games at No. 7 Georgia, at No. 14 Texas A&M, at MSU and at Auburn before all is said and done.
And don’t forget: The Tide still need to take care of business at home against No. 8 LSU on Nov. 7.
That’s a lot to ask from a football team that has question marks at quarterback, in the secondary and in the kicking game.
It’s not that it can’t be done. After all, last year’s Alabama squad rebounded from a loss against the Rebels to win eight straight and earn a spot in the inaugural Playoffs.
But there’s no way around it: Alabama is a long shot to make the postseason this year.