AUBURN – Who knows?
Will the Alabama Crimson Tide get the chance to play in the College Football Playoff after Saturday’s 26-14 loss to sixth-ranked Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium?
Alabama, which came into the game ranked No. 1, surely doesn’t. No one does.
It’s the question UA will ponder for a week until Sunday’s selection is revealed. The Crimson Tide will sit out next weekend while Auburn plays Georgia for the SEC title and other leagues settle their championships.
“If we would have won that game it would have been straight,” nose guard Da’Ron Payne said. “Now we’ve just got to leave it up to fate.”
UA coach Nick Saban believes his team has earned the right to participate in the four-team playoff.
“I think this team deserves the opportunity to get in the playoff by what they’ve been able to accomplish and what they’ve been able to do – certainly not, maybe, in this game but I think the team we played tonight is a very good football team, probably one of the best teams in the country.
“They’ve won 11 games, not very many teams able to do that. I really don’t know what all the scenarios might be where we would have an opportunity to do it. I’d certainly like to see this team get the opportunity to do it.”
Alabama has wins over LSU and Mississippi State, which were in the top 25 in last week’s official CFP rankings, but the Bulldogs were upset by Ole Miss on Friday. UA has only one loss, but no true marquee win on its resume.
Alabama could end up in the playoff, or in a New Year’s bowl game. It will have to digest the Auburn loss before moving forward.
“You’ve got to look at this as an opportunity, an opportunity to see what exactly we’re doing bad and need to improve on and what we’re doing good and need to improve on also,” center Bradley Bozeman said. “It’s a waiting game. We have to prepare ourselves like we’re going to play in it, and if for some shot we get to play in it then we get to, and if not we have to prepare for the next game.”
Alabama will want to hit the reset button.
“When we look at the film and see all the things that we did and see how we could have made a play or should have made a play and learn from it,” running back Josh Jacobs said. “I wouldn’t say I learned anything (about the team) different. We’re just got to get back to playing Alabama football.”
The opportunity to play again, whether in the playoff or in a bowl, won’t arrive for another month or so. For the first time since 2013, Alabama won’t be playing in the SEC Championship Game.
“I’m not used to this,” defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick knows Alabama no longer controls its fate. How to do that will be another learning experience.
“I don’t know, for real,” he said.