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Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama will still reach CFB Playoff with loss, Finebaum says

Chasing perfection is Alabama’s mindset this season, but the Crimson Tide may not need a perfect record to compete for a national championship, ESPN college football analyst Paul Finebaum says.

Based on Tuesday’s latest CFB Playoff Top 25, the selection committee appears locked on Alabama as the nation’s strongest and most dominant team.

“I was fascinated by LSU being at No. 7,” Finebaum said during Wednesday’s appearance on Get Up!. “We all watched them lose 29-0 at home, they were ineffective across the board and they didn’t drop very far. And don’t forget — LSU also lost to Florida which lost to Missouri, a mediocre team. What does that tell us? This committee values Alabama supremely. In other words, Alabama has a mulligan.

“If Alabama loses a game, this week vs. Mississippi State, in two weeks to Auburn or the SEC Championship Game vs. Georgia, I think they’re still getting in.”

The Crimson Tide (9-0) didn’t reach the SEC title game last season and reached the Playoff as the committee’s No. 4 seed before steamrolling top-ranked Clemson and outlasting Georgia in overtime to claim their fifth championship since 2009.

No team has passed the proverbial eye test as well as Alabama this season. The Crimson Tide are beating opponents by an average of 37 points per game and lead college football in total offense, scoring offense, third-down conversions and explosive plays — a first in the Nick Saban era. Heisman frontrunner Tua Tagovailoa has been a near-unstoppable facilitator and is college football’s most efficient player through nine games.

Tagovailoa has directed 72 drives with 45 resulting in touchdowns (62.5 percent) and six culminating in field goals for 51 total scoring drives (70.8 percent).

It’s obvious the committee respects Alabama’s body of work during a season many believe lacks parity at the top.

“Nobody in college football wants to see Alabama get in again without winning the SEC Championship … it would be the third time,” Finebaum said.

Alabama seemed to be playing with a chip on its shoulder in Saturday’s drubbing of LSU and limited the nation’s previously third-ranked team to just 13 first downs and less than 200 yards of total offense.

“They said we haven’t played anybody and that our offense and defense were very suspect,” Alabama junior tight end Irv Smith Jr. said this week. “We wanted to go out there and show everybody what we were capable of doing. It’s pretty stamped. “Offensively and defensively, I feel like nobody can stop us in the country.”

Alabama piled up 576 yards in total offense against LSU, which marked the ninth time the Tide has topped 500 yards this year and the 21st time in the last 53 games dating back to the start of the 2015 season. This is UA’s first nine-game run of 500-yard performances in school history.

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