To be clear, Alabama still needs significant help as any playoff scenario would be plausible.
In the first eight years of the four-team group, no two-loss teams have made it to a College Football Playoff semifinals. But strange things are happening, and Alabama has done nothing to harm its cause since that second loss on Nov. 5 at LSU.
And at No. 7 in last week’s CFP rankings, some Alabama players were positive about their chances of a top-four finish.
“The team was very bullish on the rankings,” said Alabama offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor after Tide beat Auburn 49-27, and we’re trying to control what we can control at this point, and that was to win our last few games and send a statement. We are very optimistic and everyone is keeping an eye on it.”
No. 2 Ohio State lost its first game Saturday, 45-23 to No. 3 Michigan for its first loss of the season. No. 8 Clemson, one spot behind Alabama, eliminated himself as South Carolina defeated the Tigers 31-30.
Alabama’s two losses came in street thrillers, 52-49 in Tennessee and 32-31 in overtime at LSU. The Vols fell as low as No. 10 in the CFP rankings last week after a stunning 66-24 loss in South Carolina a week ago.
And LSU’s No. 5, who has already lost to Florida State and Tennessee, is two touchdowns behind Texas A&M in the fourth quarter of their regular-season finale. The Tigers have already secured a spot in the SEC title game next week to face No. 1 Georgia, whose seat is suspended at the time.
“Unknown to me, I didn’t know who won, who lost, or anything else,” Saban said after the Iron Bowl. “It’s a great opportunity for our team to be considered. I think we lost two games en route to two top 10 teams with four points. We’re a good football team and hopefully people will recognize that.”
When asked about their playoff case, Alabama linebacker Will Anderson said the Tide was “definitely” good enough for a top four finish.
“We had a quarterback that had gone through with his shoulder and stuff like that,” he said. “We fought hard in every game we played. We did a really good job. The effort was there. We lost those two teams by four points together. I think we have a really good team and these guys are working really hard.”
Ekiyor, the starting right guard, said Alabama “peaked at the right time” and clinched a third straight win. However, the Iron Bowl was the final data point for the CFP committee to consider, so next week’s focus will be on conference title games.
“I think everyone will keep an eye on TV to see how these situations play out,” Ekiyor said. “As I said, everyone is very optimistic. We all know there’s still a chance to make the playoffs.”
Michael Casagrande is a reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @ByCasagrande or on Facebook.