What loss to Texas means for playoff hopes of Alabama, SEC

Jalen Milroe and Alabama aren't out of the College Football Playoff chase following a loss to Texas, but no team has reached the CFP with two losses. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Alabama coach Nick Saban took a very measured approach to the Tide's loss to Texas on Saturday evening, conceding his team "didn't do very well" in its first real test, but compared it to a "midterm, not the final."

"Everybody's basically got two choices," Saban said after the game. "You can throw in the towel and quit and be mediocre, or you can fight and grind and do the hard things that you need to be successful. We certainly don't want to waste this failing."

Alabama is not out of the College Football Playoff because it lost to Texas, but it will be if doesn't get better. The Tide's mistakes Saturday during a 34-24 loss were similar to those that cost Alabama a spot in the top four last fall and ultimately led to their two regular-season losses. The CFP selection committee snubbed the Tide last year not only because of what other contenders achieved, but also because Alabama was hindered by uncharacteristic mistakes that are starting to seem routine.

Alabama was plagued by penalties last year. Against Texas, Alabama had 10 penalties for 90 yards. Last year, the Tide had average play up front, and Saturday the offensive line allowed five sacks while the defense failed to fluster Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers. Saban's defense hasn't finished in the top five nationally since 2017, and Saturday the Tide allowed Texas 21 fourth-quarter points, tied for the most Alabama has allowed in the last quarter under Saban.

No team in the country has had more playoff appearances than Alabama (seven), but the selection committee doesn't put the Tide in its top four because of its jerseys or its head coach. It will, however, leave Alabama out of the top four if it doesn't -- gasp -- pass the eye test, and that didn't happen against the Longhorns.

If Alabama wasn't top-four material last year with future NFL No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young at quarterback, the Tide has a lot of work to do to prove to the committee they're playoff material without him. Young's replacement, Jalen Milroe, completed 14 of 27 passes for 255 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, prompting many to wonder if he will remain the starter.