Alabama football College Football Playoff path: Can Tide get in with 2 losses?

Alabama football is ranked No. 2 in the CFP rankings, but if Nick Saban’s team suffers a second loss, can they still make the College Football Playoff?

If Alabama wins the rest of their games, they’ll be in the College Football Playoff.

Alabama was ranked No. 2 in the third installment of the CFP rankings with two more regular-season games to play. Nick Saban’s team plays Arkansas and Auburn, who won’t have quarterback Bo Nix to close their season. Barring a total collapse, Alabama will play in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia.

Should Alabama win that game, they’ll be in the College Football Playoff with the No. 1 seed likely theirs and Georgia dropping down to the No. 2 or No. 3 seed and avoiding a rematch in the semifinals.

But what if Alabama loses that game, can they still make the College Football Playoff? It’s complicated.

Can a 2-loss Alabama make the College Football Playoff?

ESPN’s Joey Galloway has been steadfast in his belief that if Alabama loses to Georgia but it’s a competitive game, they’ll get the benefit of the doubt and be the first two-loss team to make the playoff since its inception.

It’s possible that happens, but Alabama will need some help for that to be a reality.

For a two-loss Alabama to make the playoff, a few things need to go their way over the next three weeks.

  1. Oregon will need to lose a game to get their second loss. Oregon has a strong win against Ohio State but has an ugly loss against Stanford on their resume. They have Utah and Oregon State to close the season and a potential rematch with Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game. They’ll be favored in each but Utah is ranked and Oregon State is a rival that beat them last year. It’s certainly possible Oregon loses once.
  2. Big Ten carnage can keep teams behind Alabama. Ohio State will need to beat Michigan State this weekend. Then, Ohio State will need to lose to Michigan on Nov. 27. Then, Michigan will have to lose the Big Ten Championship Game. If all this happens, the Big Ten will eliminate themselves from playoff consideration.
  3. Cincinnati has to lose. The Bearcats are undefeated but ranked No. 5. An undefeated record isn’t a guarantee they make it but a loss will essentially end their bid to be the first Group of Five team to make the playoff field. They host 8-2 SMU on Saturday and likely will meet a ranked Houston in the American Championship Game. Alabama will need a loss to get in with two losses.
  4. Notre Dame needs to lose. The Fighting Irish are lurking with one loss (to Cincinnati) but won’t have the chance to play for a conference championship to get an extra data point to impress the committee. If they lose to Georgia Tech or Stanford, their playoff dream is dead, but those teams are so bad, that’s not realistic as some of the other upsets mentioned above.
  5. What about the Big 12? A loss from Oklahoma State will be the first thing to root for as an Alabama fan. Baylor already has two losses and Oklahoma is No. 13 after their first loss, but the Pokes are at No. 9 and have a chance to rise if they run the table to finish with one loss. Is that enough to leap Alabama with a close loss to Georgia? That may be tough.

The bottom line is the most likely scenario for Alabama to make the playoff with two losses is to lead Georgia for stretches of the game and lose by seven or fewer points. They have to show they aren’t that far off from the No. 1 team. Oregon losing and Big Ten chaos is the best rooting method because Cincinnati and/or Notre Dame losing is not that likely. Then again, rooting for Michigan to beat Ohio State may be even less likely.

Alabama has a chance to get in with two losses but needs a lot to happen for that to come to fruition so the best course of action is to win out and beat Georgia to take the No. 1 seed.

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