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Alabama Now a +280 Longshot to Make 4-Team Playoff; Can Tide Earn CFP Berth Without Tua?

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in College Football

Nov 20, 2019 · 7:01 AM PST

Saban at the podium
Will this be the first time that Nick Saban misses out on the College Football Playoff? By Matt Velazquez (Flickr) {CC License
  • The Alabama Crimson Tide are now a +280 longshot to make the four-team College Football Playoff field
  • Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who played in the last two National Championship games (and led Bama to a title two years ago) is done for 2019 after season-ending surgery on his dislocated right hip
  • Alabama, No. 5 in the latest CFP rankings revealed Tuesday night, has never missed the playoff

The Alabama Crimson Tide are now a +280 longshot to make the four-team College Football Playoff field. Nick Saban’s program has made the playoffs every season the CFP has been in existence since 2014, winning it all in 2015 and 2017. But quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s season-ending surgery on his dislocated right hip has cast doubt on the Tide’s ability to keep the streak alive.

They’re No. 5 in the latest rankings revealed Tuesday – the same spot they were in before Tua suffered the devastating injury in a 38-7 win over Mississippi State in Week 12 – but will the Tide still roll into the playoffs?

Let’s analyze their chances and make a prediction.

Odds to Make/Miss the College Football Playoff

Team Odds to Make CFP Odds to Miss CFP
Alabama +280 -340
Clemson -1000 +700
Georgia +175 -210
LSU -1250 +800
Ohio State -1000 +700
Oklahoma +400 -500
Oregon +400 -500
Utah +290 -350

Odds taken Nov. 19 

Clemson, LSU, and Ohio State are heavy favorites for the top three berths in the College Football Playoff, but the fourth spot is up for grabs. Can 9-1 Alabama overcome Tagovailoa’s injury (and a home loss to No. 1 LSU on Nov. 9) and make the CFP for a sixth straight season?

Win Out … and Hope

According to  Four-Team Playoff odds, Alabama is a second-favorite to earn that fourth slot, behind Georgia and (interestingly) slightly ahead of Utah. It’s not surprising the Crimson Tide are still No. 5 in the latest rankings — even with Tagovailoa’s injury.

The committee can’t punish them for being without their former Heisman Trophy finalist signal caller. At least not yet. The committee is merely judging what has happened on the field thus far.

If the Tide win out, with victories over FCS Western Carolina this week and Auburn in the Iron Bowl the following week, Saban’s crew would be 11-1 with its lone win over a top 25 team likely being an 8-4 Auburn (which faces Samford this week).

That resume simply isn’t good enough on its own. Bama would need significant chaos (like 2-3 teams currently ahead of them to lose at least once in the next two weeks) to have a legitimate case for the CFP. And that’s highly unlikely.

It Could Happen

But as ESPN college football analyst Jesse Palmer noted Tuesday, if Mac Jones can put on a show at Jordan-Hare – the same way Cardale Jones walloped Wisconsin 59-0 in the 2014 Big Ten Championship Game – Alabama has a shot.

The committee took notice of that Buckeye statement and put them in the four-team field ahead of Baylor and TCU. Of course, Urban Meyer’s team validated the committee’s somewhat controversial move (at least, to Big 12 fans) by dominating Oregon to win the title in the CFP’s inaugural season.

What’s the Best Bet?

While there’s still a chance Alabama gets in, I say it’s slim to none. Look at the teams behind them and their respective chances if they win out.

Current No. 6 Oregon already owns a Top 25 win (vs. No. 23 USC), No. 7 Utah would have a huge Top 25 victory in a potential Pac-12 title game matchup vs. Oregon (not to mention its first conference crown).

No. 9 Oklahoma would have two top-25 wins over Baylor and a Big 12 title. As I mentioned above, the Utes are the truly surprising team at +290.  In the meantime, save your money and fade Bama.

Pick: Alabama at -340 to miss CFP

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