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Alabama and the College Football Playoff – Are the tides over?

Alabama has the brand. It has the tradition, the coach and the clout – it even has the respect of the college football playoffs selection commission, despite a weak schedule – but for the first time in six seasons, the Crimson Tide may not have the makings of finishing in the top four.

After losing No. 3 Alabama at home to LSU No. 2 on Saturday, it missed its only chance of dazzling the selection committee with a blockbuster victory. Now the Tide has almost no chance to win the SEC – they would have to win and see the Tigers to lose two of their last three games against 4-6 Ole Miss, 2-8 Arkansas and 6-3 Texas A & M's only for a chance to win their division. Without a conference championship, Alabama must prove that it is "clearly" one of the four best teams in the country. This seems to be a big task given that the next three games against Mississippi State will be defeated five times, FCS Western Carolina and Auburn. And the so far submissive schedule of the Tide ̵

1; they have not beaten any ranking team – will not help either.

The LSU, on the other hand, was a great case to take first place in the state of Ohio in the ranking on Tuesday (7 pm ET, ESPN and ESPN App), while Alabama may only be in 4th place as the best-placed one-loss team falls. But that's because the committee does not look to the future.

"The committee's job is to enter the room with a blank piece of paper, which means that we start with an open mind when we consider the strengths and weaknesses of each team, from the opening day until last Saturday, "said Rob Mullen's selection committee chairman last week. "Nothing else matters."

While it's impossible to predict what 13 people will do on the selection day, remember how things change on the championship weekend when the last piece of the resume is added and the committee must follow the given protocol to do so FBS Conference Commissars and Notre Dame Sports Director Jack Swarbrick:

Strict schedule, head-to-head competition, and won championships must be specifically applied as a tiebreaker between teams that might look similar in trouble – if the committee tides for "similar" holds like the winners of the Pac-12 or Big-12 and enforces the use of these tiebreakers.

In each of the last three seasons, the committee has voted a top 4 team that has not won a conference title: Ohio State (2016), Alabama (2017) and Notre Dame (2018). While these three storylines are often mentioned and still discussed, they are also not the norm, as 17 of the last 20 semi-finalists were conference masters.

2017 saw Alabama finish fourth despite losing to Auburn and not having won SEC West for two more victories against LSU and the state of Mississippi. This season Auburn would be the only opponent they beat, provided the Tide wins.

That could be important if Alabama is part of a debate with Oregon and Auburn takes fourth place as Auburn is a common opponent and the ducks lost 27-21 to Auburn in the season opener. Alabama's playoff hopes would not only win convincingly, but also increase dramatically if Oklahoma loses and the Pac-12 spawns a two-time conference champion.

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