What Saturday’s chaos — Bama loses! Oklahoma survives! — means for the playoff

  • College football reporter
  • Joined ESPN.com in 2007
  • Graduate of Indiana University

For fans and critics of the four-team College Football Playoff who have been clamoring for something different — someone different — the sport at least delivered the possibility at the midway point of the season, serving up a frenetic Saturday in which No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Penn State both lost.

No, No. 1 Alabama losing a nail-biter on the road to an unranked, two-loss Texas A&M team does not eliminate the Tide from the conversation, but now Alabama must win the SEC, and it puts a dent in the league’s hopes of having two SEC teams finish in the top four. It can still happen if one-loss Alabama runs the table and beats an undefeated Georgia in the SEC championship game, but the Tide has now lost its mulligan in the SEC title game, should it win the West and make it to Atlanta.

The Crimson Tide’s loss also means that Iowa and Cincinnati — fresh faces in a field typically dominated by Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma — are true contenders.

For now.

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