Alabama has low-chance hope at CFP

The elusive question of whether Alabama can make the college football playoffs probably didn’t happen enough on Saturday. Two teams lost ahead of the Crimson Tide, which ranked seventh in last week’s CFP Selection Committee poll, and Bama alone was enough.

The Crimson Tide’s 49-27 win over Auburn lifted Bama to a 10-2 record, and the two teams were hot on the heels of Alabama — No. 8 Clemson losing 31-30 to South Carolina and No. 9 Oregon falling along 38:34 to Washington State – are no longer a threat.

The two teams ahead of Alabama that lost include one that may be in doubt. No. 3 Ohio State (11-1) not only lost at home, it was blasted by Michigan 45-23. It’s a loss for a good team, but it’s a huge loss.

To recap, Alabama is the only two-loss team under discussion, and that’s because the Tide’s two losses to top-ranked teams down the road and in the final game of the game fell by a total of four points. It’s a grasp on a weak branch, but still a chance.

Neither of the two casualties Bama really needed to provide aid failed to materialize.

No. 4 TCU of the Big 12 defeated Iowa State, 62-14, and has only the league championship game left to finish with an unbeaten season and a secure spot in the CFP.

No. 6 Southern Cal (11-1) was a 38-27 winner over Notre Dame and the one-loss Trojans will be big favorites in the Pac-12 title game. Win that and USC stays ahead of Bama.

No. 5 LSU’s 38-23 loss to Texas A&M eliminated the Tigers from the playoffs with three losses without a win over No. 1 Georgia (12-0 after an easy win over Georgia Tech). However, LSU is not considered a threat to win this game. His loss to the Aggies just means (Wahoo!) that Alabama takes first place in the Southeastern Conference West Division.

So where is the opportunity? The CFP’s unlikely decision to seed Ohio State sixth and Bama fifth on Tuesday night and Southern Cal lose their championship game. (TCU will have no trouble winning the Big 12.)

One estimate for this week’s CFP rankings — the last before the championship games — is 1st Georgia, 2nd Michigan, 3rd TCU, 4th Southern Cal with Alabama and Ohio State fifth and sixth in any order.

Alabama coach Nick Saban didn’t directly address the CFP possibility, saying he was asked about it right after the game, “but I didn’t even know the results.” He said he’s proud of his team, which has a 10-win record closed when “the naysayers” said they were out.

“We went through a rough patch when (quarterback Bryce Young) got injured, but we didn’t give up.”

Twice, in his post-game address to reporters, he pointed out Tide’s two losses, who hit the road by four points.

Alabama defenseman DJ Dale said, “I think we’re right. Playing together as a team plays a big role. We’ve played hard all year, but we haven’t always played smart. I think we’ve done that in the last few games.”

He dodged the question of whether Alabama deserved to be in the CFP. “It’s not up to us,” he said. “All we can control is how we play and if that works out we’ll be excited and I hope that will happen but we can’t control that.”

When asked where he thinks Alabama would go up against the best teams in the country, he said, “If that team clicks, I have a feeling we’re going to be the best in the country.”

Defensive defender DeMarcco Hellems said, “Coach Saban talks about being where your feet are. Whatever happens, we will be prepared. After the loss to LSU, a lot of people wrote us off thinking that we weren’t going to end the season strong, but we decided to come together and end the season as strong as we could without worrying about the playoffs, and happily At the end of the season we might have a chance.

“Ending the season with three wins in a row is definitely a good trend for us.”

Offensive lineman Emile Ekiyor said: “I think everyone is very optimistic about the playoffs and we are all looking forward to what happens next week. Hopefully something good will happen for us, we will be ready.”

The elephant in the room? There is speculation that stars of the Tide, quarterback Bryce Young and linebacker Will Anderson, may “fold out” (quit) to save themselves for the NFL if Alabama is in a “meaningless” bowl game. Maybe yes, maybe not. Do the CFP and they’ll be back.