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ESPN Analyst: 1 Team Has Better Chance Of Making Playoff Than Alabama

Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide talks with head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers after the Tigers defeated the Crimson Tide 35-31 in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide talks with head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers after the Tigers defeated the Crimson Tide 35-31 in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Alabama football is the clear-cut No. 1 team in the country right now. Based on the first eight weeks of the season, that is pretty clear.

That being said, the Crimson Tide don't have the easiest path to the College Football Playoff.

The SEC is very tough once again, and Alabama's next game comes against No. 4 LSU at Death Valley. Great teams have lost games there before.

After that, Mississippi State and Auburn are still on the schedule, though both are extremely up-and-down this year, but then the SEC Championship, and a likely date with Georgia, awaits.

Alabama looks phenomenal, but it wouldn't be the craziest thing for them to drop one of those two games against top 10 teams. If the Crimson Tide finish with a loss, there is a good chance that they would still make the College Football Playoff, but that's no guarantee.

ESPN's David Pollack thinks that Alabama football is more likely to miss the College Football Playoff than one team: Clemson.

The Tigers haven't been nearly as consistent as the Tide this year. However, the ACC is way down from where it has been over the last few seasons, the Coastal Division is a mess and may very well send an unranked team to the ACC Championship Game, and Clemson should be able to coast to an undefeated record.

Pollack made the argument on CFB Live, per 247Sports:

"I would say Alabama and I know this sounds crazy because we’ve talked about them being the best team on the planet,” Pollack said. “I think injures are starting to be significant. Jalen Hurts has surgery. Tua (Tagovailoa) is banged up with his knee which makes him more vulnerable. And let’s couple that with the fact they’ve got to play LSU in a couple weeks and a SEC champ in the end with Georgia or Florida.

"Their road is obviously a lot tougher to get there in the end and some injuries mounting.”

Hurts underwent a minor procedure to help with a high ankle sprain on Monday. Tagovailoa got banged up during the game against Missouri, but has played through it. The Tide were also without star receiver DeVonta Smith against Tennessee, after he left the Missouri game with a hamstring issue.

Pollack isn't alone in that view either. Analytics site FiveThirtyEight, a former ESPN subsidiary now owned by ABC, calculates that Clemson has an 80-percent chance to win the ACC (which, honestly, seems low) and to make the College Football Playoff.

Alabama's chances: 56-percent to win the SEC and 68-percent to make the Playoff, which tells you all you need to know about the difficulty of the conference.

FiveThirtyEight projections after Ohio State loss.

FiveThirtyEight

I'm sure it sounds ridiculous to Alabama fans, but this is probably correct. Still, if the Tide do what they're supposed to, and avoid more than one hiccup or a major quarterback injury, odds are the Tide will be back in the CFP once again.