On the Beat: Alabama has clear path to College Football Playoff

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – We’re a little less than three weeks from the release of the initial College Football Playoff rankings, and you should expect to see Alabama football on one of the top two lines.

Alabama coach Nick Saban won’t like this “rat poison,” but the Crimson Tide’s path back to the College Football Playoff for the fourth straight season is clearer than ever.

Texas A&M provided Alabama with the test it needed to refocus for the stretch run of the season.

The rest of Alabama’s schedule sets up favorably for an undefeated regular-season run.

This week, Alabama gets Arkansas, which is coming off a 48-22 loss at South Carolina. The Razorbacks typically play Alabama tough, but there’s no chance they’ll win in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. Arkansas starting quarterback Austin Allen is questionable. With Allen, the Hogs have no shot. Without him, they may not score a point.

On Oct. 21, Alabama hosts the Champions of Life (see: Tennessee Volunteers).

Does anyone, even those who live in Knoxville, believe Tennessee can knock off the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa? We didn’t think so.

Tennessee did not play last Saturday, and the last time the Vols took the field was a 41-0 home loss to Georgia. Butch Jones is hanging on by a thread. A home loss to South Carolina on Saturday could be one of the final nails in the coffin.

After hosting the Vols next week, Alabama gets its bye week to rest up and self-assess.

November doesn’t look as tough as it has been in past seasons.

LSU isn’t the LSU we’ve come to expect over the years. The Tigers pulled off a nice win against Florida, but they managed just 17 points.

Props to Ed Orgeron for getting his players to respond after a terrible home loss to Troy, but things won’t get any easier when the Tigers travel to Bryant-Denny Stadium.

After LSU, Alabama travels to Mississippi State. The Bulldogs beat down LSU to open SEC play, but have since been outscored 80-13 by Georgia and Auburn.

Mississippi State does play Alabama tough when the games are in Starkville, but those results against Georgia and Auburn prove the Bulldogs won’t be a serious test for Alabama.

Mercer is getting paid to come to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 18.

Finally, it all comes down to the Iron Bowl. Auburn remains Alabama’s toughest regular-season test. Auburn has won four straight games since dropping a close one to Clemson in Week 2.

Auburn is entering the meat of its SEC schedule with road games at LSU, Arkansas and Texas A&M before hosting Georgia on Nov. 11.

If Auburn makes it through that gauntlet without a loss, we could be looking at a winner-take-all SEC West showdown a la 2013.

How crazy would that be? The Iron Bowl is always a fantastic rivalry, but it’s even better when there is something on the line for both teams.

There is a ton of football left to be played, and we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but you can’t objectively look at Alabama’s schedule and find a loss.

It may be time to start looking up hotels for the semifinals, Alabama fans.

The post On the Beat: Alabama has clear path to College Football Playoff appeared first on SEC Country.

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