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.
According to ESPN's Football Power Index, Alabama still has the third-best chance (54%) to make the playoff and the second-best (35%) to win it. Thanks to tiebreakers -- and Texas A&M already having two SEC losses -- Alabama is still the frontrunner to win the West (77%), but Georgia now has the best chance to win the SEC (65%). If Alabama and Georgia both finish 11-1, there's a 90% chance they both finish in the top four, according to the Allstate Playoff Predictor, but there's only an 11% chance of that happening.
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.