With the loss to LSU, the Alabama Crimson Tide found themselves in an unusual position—on the outside looking in of the College Football Playoffs. Now, after the loss of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to a dislocated hip on Saturday, their window is going to get smaller than it’s ever been during the CFP era.
However, the window is still open for Alabama despite the loss of Tagovailoa. They will not be viewed as the threat to win it all as they were with him, but Alabama is still an excellent football team. An argument could be made that nothing has changed as far as the team’s playoff hopes are concerned. But their case for inclusion in the playoffs now becomes much more interesting, right, Tim Tebow?
Alabama still has to win out. Mac Jones has appeared to be good enough for the Tide to do just that. They will look different in their final two regular-season games, but they can still beat WCU and Auburn. Just like before the injury to Tagovailoa, they are going to need help if they are to make the playoffs.
It looks like the most likely source, and their best chance, is going to be Texas A&M.
For Alabama to get in, someone inside the top four is going to need to lose; LSU and Ohio State may even need to lose twice. Ohio State could potentially lose two with games remaining against Penn State, Michigan, and probably Minnesota in the Big Ten title game. But Ohio State is going to be favored to win all three and likely will. So, it may be more likely that LSU drops two.
This is where Texas A&M comes in. They face LSU to close out the regular season, and while LSU is going to be favored, the Aggies could very well beat them (probably not, but they could). Is their secondary good enough to slow down or stop Joe Burrow and the LSU passing game? Of course not. But their run game is good enough to keep him off the field. If Burrow isn’t playing, he can’t score.
Should the Aggies pull off the upset, then it will be up to Georgia to hand LSU their second loss. With their defense and run game, they could very well do just that. However, if LSU does lose two, the games could be close enough that they only fall to No. 4 rather than out of the top four altogether.
A loss to A&M will certainly hurt, but losing to another top-four team in Georgia—not so much.
That is where Texas A&M comes into play again. If Texas A&M can pull off the upset and beat Georgia, then Georgia’s win over LSU will be enough to knock LSU out of the top (assuming the Aggies do their part and beat LSU first).
Losing Tagovailoa does hurt, but Alabama is so much more than just one player. An excellent group of wide receivers helped make Tagovailoa look as good as he did, and they may do the same for Mac Jones. The only real difference for Alabama going forward is that they will lean more on the run game on offense.
But to make the playoffs, they will need help.
It could be Penn State, Michigan, and Minnesota taking out the Buckeyes. Or it could be Texas A&M taking out LSU and Georgia. Neither scenario is likely, but they do leave the window open – for now.
Last modified: September 23, 2020 1:16 PM