With Alabama entering this weekend’s SEC Championship against Missouri, it has assumed the role of the conference’s only hope at making the first ever College Football Playoff.
Much of the debate this season has been whether the committee would permit two SEC teams to make it into the final four. But after the SEC West devoured itself and the East had a down year, Alabama was left as the the only plausible playoff contender.
Number cruncher and poll oracle Nate Silver has been projecting the likelihood of everything surrounding college football this season — chance to make the playoff, chance to win the title, etc. — and Alabama still leads in all categories, especially in a crucial one.
Silver’s website FiveThirtyEight not only gives Alabama a 94 percent chance of making the playoff, but it gives the Crimson Tide a 57 percent chance of making the final game, and a 31 percent chance of winning it all.
Silver also gives Alabama a 68 percent chance of making the playoff even with a loss to Missouri this weekend. He follows that projection with another crucial one: Alabama’s chance of making playoff with a loss — if the rest of the top five win — is 39 percent.
But as promising as 39 percent sounds, it should be lower than that. The chance of one or more of the other top five teams losing is slim, so the game against Missouri on Saturday will almost serve as Alabama’s first playoff game.
If Alabama does lose, it will need some serious help from Georgia Tech, Arizona, Kansas State, Wisconsin and Iowa State to knock off some of the other top six teams and get the Crimson Tide back in the hunt. With the majority of the top six winning, Alabama would be thrown into some difficult discussions.
Would the committee include a two-loss, non-conference champion Alabama over a one-loss, conference champion Ohio State who has an injured starting quarterback? Would a two-loss Alabama — losing at the absolutely worst time of the year — be selected over Baylor? Probably not.
Basically, if Alabama loses on Saturday, no SEC teams will make the playoff, and the best conference in the country would be on the outside of this inaugural year of the tournament.