The latest Alabama football bowl projections ahead of Austin Peay game

Nick Kelly
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama football won't be in the College Football Playoff. That's the only fair amount of certainty right now about the postseason for this team.

The Crimson Tide (8-2, 5-2 SEC) has two losses, and no two-loss team has ever reached the CFP. There might have been a path if Alabama won out, got some help and beat Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. LSU won the SEC West, though, so that path has disappeared.

Instead, it's time to pivot to non-CFP bowls.

What bowl game will Alabama land? That might not be clear until bowl games are announced Dec. 4.

Even when a path might be straightforward, the equation isn't exactly mathematical. Bowls under the CFP umbrella that aren't part of the CFP that year and also have conference contracts get to decide separate from the CFP. The conferences are included in those conversations.

Here's a look at the latest projections as No. 9 Alabama prepares to face Austin Peay (7-3, 3-2 ASUN) on Saturday (11 a.m., SEC Network+) at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

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USA TODAY Sports: Orange Bowl vs. Clemson

At this point, this is probably the most likely outcome. But USA TODAY's Erick Smith's version is different than some in how the Crimson Tide lands here. Instead of Georgia and Tennessee making the playoff, only Georgia makes it. That means Tennessee plays in the Sugar Bowl because the highest-ranked SEC team not in the CFP goes to this bowl. That leaves the Orange Bowl and the Citrus Bowl for Alabama and LSU, as well as potentially the Cotton Bowl as an at-large bid. Smith clarifies these rankings are based on what the committee will do Dec. 4, not a measure of which teams are best. For this to happen, LSU would have to have one more loss than Alabama, which could very well happen if Georgia wins the SEC Championship Game over the Tigers. As long as Alabama wins out, it would have only two losses. That could result in the Crimson Tide going to the Orange Bowl over the Tigers.

ESPN: Orange Bowl vs. Clemson, Cotton Bowl vs. UCF

ESPN's Kyle Bonagura is projecting Georgia and Tennessee will make the playoff. Then he has LSU in the Sugar Bowl and Alabama in the Orange Bowl. ESPN's Mark Schlabach sees Georgia as the only SEC team that makes the CFP, so Tennessee would be in the Sugar Bowl while LSU would be in the Orange Bowl. In this scenario, he sees Alabama going in as an at-large bid against UCF in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2.

CBS: Orange Bowl vs. Clemson

CBS Sports' Jerry Palm has Georgia and Tennessee facing off in the Peach Bowl, so LSU goes to the Sugar Bowl and Alabama faces Clemson.

The Athletic: Orange Bowl vs. Clemson

The Athletic's Scott Dochterman and Stewart Mandel also make the popular pick for the Crimson Tide, sending it to Miami for the matchup vs. Clemson.

247Sports: Sugar Bowl vs. TCU

This pick from Brad Crawford is not nearly as common, but it's possible. In his projections, Crawford has LSU going to the Cotton Bowl as an at-large bid. He has Tennessee and Georgia in the playoff but does not have an SEC team in the Orange Bowl. Instead, Crawford projects North Carolina and Penn State as the two teams in Miami.