The unthinkable finally happened on Saturday: Nick Saban lost his first non-conference game in Bryant-Denny Stadium since taking over as the head coach of Alabama in 2007 and losing to ULM. A streak that lasted a remarkable 17 years was finally snapped by former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and his Texas Longhorns.
A lot of fans are down on the Tide after the historical loss, and for good reason, but it is a long season with a lot of football still left to play. Alabama still remains one of the most talented teams in the country with a chance to get back into the playoff race. Winning the SEC West and conference championship are still very attainable goals, but the margin for error is effectively zero now. The Tide have an uphill battle to get back into the playoff hunt, and many people have counted them out.
CBS Sports currently projects that Alabama will not be playing in the College Football Playoff semi-final on New Year’s Day. They predict that Alabama will take on Penn State in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 30. For most schools, this would be a remarkable achievement, but Alabama is not like every other program, so I know their goals are playoff or bust.
The playoffs are currently projected to be Georgia vs. Florida State in the Sugar Bowl and Michigan vs. Texas in the Rose Bowl. If the Tide can win out in the regular season and beat UGA in the SEC title, they are a lock to make the playoffs. However, it’s imperative that they play near-perfect ball for the next 10 weeks. USF won’t roll over for the Tide, but it is the last non-conference game before they head into the thick of a brutal SEC schedule.