TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — If you are an Alabama fan and watched Tuesday’s College Football Playoff rankings show, you may have been disappointed with the results.
Despite Auburn, previously ranked ahead of Alabama, losing a stunner to Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide remained at No. 5—just outside the playoff field. They were jumped by TCU, which produced an emphatic 41-20 thumping of Kansas State.
This led to some consternation and hand-wringing among Alabama fans worried about whether or not their team would make it into the field at the end of the season.
There’s no reason to panic, though—none at all. The Crimson Tide are in as good a playoff position as anybody, with games left against the Nos. 1 and 9 teams in the rankings.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban summed up the attitude perfectly on the SEC teleconference Wednesday.
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“I didn’t even really know what we were in the poll, and it really doesn’t matter at all to me or our team or our players, because it’s about the game that we play,” Saban said. “If you don’t have success in the games that you play, the poll’s not going to matter.
“We have to play really, really good teams in our league, and we have a couple of really, really good teams that we have to play to finish the season, starting with the team that we play this week. The emphasis is, if you have success against the teams that you have to play, all those things are going to take care of themselves.”
Alabama does not control its own destiny. That’s because the oft-used phrase is an oxymoron. One cannot control what is already predetermined.
The Crimson Tide do, however, control their playoff fate. They can take a good step toward that field this weekend.
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Mississippi State has been the No. 1 team in all three of these midseason rankings the committee has released. The Bulldogs are undefeated and have solidified their current resume with wins on the road and at home over good teams.
Beating Mississippi State would do two things for Alabama.
Firstly, it would knock off the No. 1 team in the field, opening up a spot for another team to jump in. Secondly, it would significantly bolster its playoff resume, making even more of a case for it to be in the field.
Committee chair Jeff Long said on ESPN that the difference between No. 5 Alabama and No. 4 TCU was quite small.
A win over the top team would give Alabama a resume advantage.
Then, should Alabama keep winning, it would find itself in Atlanta with a chance to win the SEC championship—a major criterion in the committee’s selection. It would also have beaten the current No. 9 team, Auburn.
All of this would be a major boost for Alabama’s case, while at least one team ahead of it falls.
Will Alabama make the College Football Playoff?
So Crimson Tide fans should not be panicking at all right now. In fact, Alabama should be very happy with its current situation. It has a clear path to a playoff spot, even if right now—in rankings that are judging an incomplete season—it is on the outside looking in.
Alabama just needs to keep winning, and that should be the focus for everyone right now.
“The emphasis has to be on how we play, how we execute, preparing the right way for this particular game, this particular team, and give ourselves the best chance to be successful in this game,” Saban said.
“So none of that really matters.”
Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.