After a tough eight weeks, Alabama can finally sit back and enjoy a week off from football. Talk of the upcoming game with LSU won’t start ramping up until next week. In the meantime, the discussion has focused on the forthcoming release of the season's first College Football Playoff rankings. The rankings are set to be unveiled next Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN.

Through the season's first eight weeks, Alabama ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press top 25 with a 7-1 record, 5-0 in the SEC. Typically, the College Football Playoff rankings coincide closely with the Associated Press top 25 poll, so Alabama would be expected to be placed near the ninth spot.

The Crimson Tide likely won’t hold one of the coveted top four spots, but there is a pathway to get there by the final rankings. No team has ever made the playoffs with two losses, so there is no room for error. Alabama would likely need to win out, including a win in the SEC Championship Game.

During his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” Nick Saban was asked if he pays any extra attention to where the committee ranks them, being a one-loss team.

“I don’t really care much about the rankings right now because they really don’t matter unless you win the next game,” Saban said. “They really don’t matter unless you win the next game after that. So you’ve got to stay focused on sort of the here and now in terms of trying to do everything you can do on the front end to make sure your team is playing the best in the next game.”

Last season, Alabama was excluded from the College Football Playoff due to two heartbreaking defeats with last-second plays against Tennessee and LSU. Saban advocated for his team’s inclusion, expressing his belief that they ranked among the top four teams.

On Thursday, Saban voiced his opinion that a team’s strength of schedule should carry some weight instead of just wins and losses.

“I think they should put more emphasis on strength of schedule, who you play, how many top teams you played and beat, however, it might be, so that you get the best teams in the game,” Saban said. “I’m not sure there’s so much public sentiment for making sure you that you win your conference championship or whatever. I think when you go to 12 teams, you’ll definitely get all the best teams in, but right now it can be a little bit hit or miss.”

Alabama’s resume is strong, with their only loss to Texas, a top-10 team. The Crimson Tide’s strength of schedule is ranked seventh according to ESPN but could take a hit if the SEC cannibalizes themselves throughout the remainder of the schedule. Many think that the SEC is having a down year, but Saban believes that it’s as tough as it has ever been.

“I think the SEC is better from top to bottom this year,” Saban said. “I don’t know about the top, but the difference between the best team and the 10th or 11th team is a lot closer than it has been in a lot of other years.”

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