LSU vs. Alabama: Will Loser Still Make the College Football Playoff?

Alabama coach Nick Saban and his LSU counterpart Ed Orgeron have done their best to play down the hype surrounding Saturday's "Game of the Century," but despite their efforts the matchup retains enormous implications for both teams.

LSU tops the Associated Press Top 25 poll, with Alabama second, while the Crimson Tide is number one in USA Today coaches' poll, with the Tigers in second place.

Saturday's matchup in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, marks the first time in the AP Top 25 era that the top-two ranked programs have collided in the regular season since LSU took Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 2011.

Both programs trailed Ohio State when the first College Football Playoff ranking of the year was released on Tuesday, with the Buckeyes top of the pile, followed by LSU and Alabama in second and third place respectively.

The two programs are the only teams undefeated in the SEC and whoever comes out on top on Saturday will be in charge of the SEC West and have the inside track to the SEC Championship Game against either Georgia or Florida.

More importantly, with Ohio State taking on unranked Maryland on Saturday, the winner could feasibly occupy top spot in the next set of College Football Playoff ranking, which is released on November 12.

Both Saban and Orgeron, however, were eager to downplay the importance of Saturday's matchup.

"It's the biggest game on our schedule but there'll be bigger games down the road for us," LSU's head coach was quoted as saying by Sports Illustrated.

"We understand, we have respect for Alabama, we understand what they do well, what we do well and it's going to be a great game."

Saban, who aims to extend his team's winning record at home to 32 straight games on Saturday, struck a similar tone in his press conference.

"I'm not really big on rankings and all that kind of stuff, but I know that they [LSU] are a really, really good team," he said.

Despite their stance, however, the implications of Saturday's showdown remain monumental for both programs.

Since the CFP's inception five years ago, 11 of the 20 semifinalists made the top four in the first weekly ranking and six of the last eight semifinalists were included in the top four in the committee's first release.

Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama Crimson Tide
Tua Tagovailoa #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after a rushing touchdown by Brian Robinson Jr. #24 in the first half against the Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 19 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Kevin C. Cox/Getty

Based on that record, it is no surprise that FiveThirtyEight's projections currently give Ohio State Alabama a 66.5 percent chance of making the playoffs, while Alabama and LSU stand at 48.6 and 38.3 respectively.

Should the Crimson Tide win a ninth consecutive game against the Tigers, its chances of reaching the playoff would rise to 69.2 percent, while LSU's would fall to 19.8 percent.

Conversely, should the Tigers become the first program to beat Alabama on the road twice since Saban took charge of the Crimson Tide in 2007, their chances would jump to 70.4 percent and Alabama would fall to 13 percent.

LSU won't be the only team hoping they win in Tuscaloosa on Saturday.

According to FiveThirtyEight, Georgia's chances of making the playoffs would increase from 25.7 percent to 28.8 percent should the Tigers defeat Alabama.

The Bulldogs debuted at No.6 in the CFP ranking and lead the SEC East with a 0.5-game margin over Florida after defeating the Gators 24-10 a week ago.

ESPN's playoffs predictor, meanwhile, gives LSU a 57 percent chance to make the playoff and a 29.6 percent chance to win the SEC West, while the corresponding figures for Alabama stand at 71.4 percent and 70.1 percent.

However, the Tigers would still retain a 73 percent chance of making the playoffs if they lose to Alabama and finish 11-1, while the Crimson Tide's of being among the top four on Selection Sunday would fall to 65.3 percent in that same scenario.

LSU vs. Alabama: Will Loser Still Make the College Football Playoff? | Sports