We have spent most of the season assuming that, at some point, we would see Alabama meet Clemson in the College Football Playoff for the fifth season in a row. Now that Bama lost to LSU and is unlikely to win the SEC, there is a good chance the streaks of meetings with Clemson and overall playoff appearances will come to an end.
It is not over yet, though. Alabama may still have a chance to advance into the four-team field without winning the SEC. It is safe to assume that is the only hope as LSU is not going to lose twice to open the door for Bama to get back into the SEC title hunt. (The Tigers' remaining games are against 6-3 Texas A&M, 4-6 Ole Miss and 2-8 Arkansas.)
So, let's look at what more-realistic paths Alabama might have to the playoff.
LSU wins out: It actually starts with LSU finishing 13-0 and winning the SEC. That knocks out Georgia as a two-loss team. If both the Bulldogs and Tigers finish 12-1 and Georgia is the SEC champion, Alabama is no better than the third=best team in the SEC behind LSU. It would take an unrealistic amount of chaos to get three SEC teams in the playoff.
Alabama's problem is that its schedule strength is relatively poor. If the Tide finish 11-1, their best win and only win of consequence will be Auburn, which could be 8-4 after the Iron Bowl. Obviously, they would have a "good loss" to LSU, but if that is the best thing the CFP Selection Committee can say about you, you don't have much.
Clemson loses: One thing that would help Alabama would be for Clemson to lose a game. Any game. The Tigers' schedule is so bad that, even at 13-0, they may not have a win over a team in the final CFP Rankings on Dec. 8. They need to be undefeated to make the playoff. I think we would all be shocked if that happens, though.