Alabama Football: Crimson Tide with two clear paths to CFB Playoff

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Alabama Football: A couple of weeks from the first CFB Playoff rankings, the Crimson Tide is in a strong position.

After the Kentucky game, on Nov. 21, the Alabama football record should be 7-0. Three days later the first CFB Playoff Rankings will be released by the Selection Committee. An undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide will be ranked No. 1.

The most probable path for an Alabama football Playoff berth is an SEC Championship and an 11-0 or 10-0 record, depending on whether the LSU game will be played. Whether it is 10 or 11 wins does not matter. As few as eight games and eight wins would put the Crimson Tide in the Playoff field. A Big Ten team may get there with just seven games played.

While a beatdown of the Bengal Tigers would be great fun for Alabama football fans, not rescheduling the game works best for both teams. LSU would lose game revenue, but save itself an embarrassment. The Crimson Tide will not need the extra win. Of more value would one less game in which a key player could be lost to injury.

Assuming the Crimson Tide finishes the regular season at 9-0, the SEC Championship game will matter. In the Playoff era, sometimes conference championships fail to garner acclaim. Even if we must be reminded, the SEC Championship is still a big deal.

What about the Crimson Tide chances against its expected opponent, the Florida Gators? Underestimating the Gators’ offense would be a mistake. They will put up points on the Tide defense and the game will likely be an offensive shootout. Florida has struggled defensively, but the recently improved Crimson Tide defense has as well. The SEC Championship should be an Alabama football victory, but the Gators could win.

With a loss, the Crimson Tide would still be in a strong position for a Playoff berth, but would not be a lock. The SEC is the only conference to get two teams in the six years of Playoff fields. That was, of course, the Crimson Tide and Georgia in the 2017 season. It helps the two teams advanced to the National Championship game.

Presuming the Crimson Tide is ranked No. 1 in the first four Playoff rankings, a loss would probably leave the Tide at No. 3 or No. 4. Fifteen one-loss teams have made the Playoffs in six years. Only five, one-loss Power Five teams have failed to make the Playoffs.

The Pac 12, starting so late in the season, is not likely to have a one-loss team qualify. Now at 2-0, Wisconsin is at risk of being undefeated and not in the Big Ten Championship if it can only play five games. A 5-0, not Power Five Champion should not make the field.

Much will change but it is not hard to see the Playoff field being the Big Ten Champion, the SEC Champion, the ACC Champion, with the ACC (Notre Dame or Clemson) and SEC (Alabama if it loses to Florida) hoping for the fourth slot. Something to watch in the early Playoff Rankings will be Florida’s positions. Should the Tide need Selection Committee favor to get in, Florida ranked no lower than No. 6 before the SEC Championship game would be a boost to the Tide.

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Notre Dame is a legit threat to wreck a one-loss Crimson Tide’s Playoff chances. The Irish may be overrated as they continually are, but that is less the case in 2020. They could not run the table in the SEC, but Notre Dame is better than some Alabama football fans like to admit.