Even as Alabama stumbled, the SEC grew stronger.
Thanks in part to Penn State's surprising loss to Minnesota and Oklahoma's near-loss to Iowa State, it is now more likely than not that the SEC will put at least two teams into the playoff, according to the Allstate Playoff Predictor.
Officially, the conference now has a 56% chance to secure multiple bids -- a number that ought to worry the Pac-12 and Big 12.
There are several ways this can happen.
Scenario 1: No. 1 LSU wins out, No. 5 Alabama finishes 11-1 (24% chance of occurring)
The most straightforward situation puts the SEC in a pretty good spot. As we wrote last week, Alabama is very much still in the playoff race despite losing to LSU. And that was before Penn State suffered its unexpected loss.
The Tigers are naturally a lock in this scenario, while Alabama has jumped to 71% (!) to get in. At 11-1, Alabama would have a better strength of record than a 12-1 Oklahoma and probably a 12-1 Oregon -- in addition to being better than both of those teams in FPI, a proxy for the eye test.
Penn State could still throw a potential wrench in this scenario for the SEC by winning out, but that's not all that likely. An 11-1 Ohio State vs. an 11-1 Alabama would make for quite the debate.
Scenario 2: No. 4 Georgia wins out, LSU finishes 12-1, Alabama finishes 11-1 (8% chance of occurring)
This is probably the scenario that makes two SEC teams most likely. Georgia (82% chance to reach playoff) would be a one-loss SEC champ, and LSU (74%) would still be a strong candidate.
Though we really don't have a good feel for the how the committee might view a conference-championship loser in this scenario (given the lack of upsets in conference championships in the playoff era), it seems hard to imagine LSU would be kept out with wins over Alabama, Auburn and Florida on its résumé.
Alabama isn't out of the running here, either, with a 48% chance to get in. It's possible the committee could elect to take Alabama over LSU -- perhaps citing Tua Tagovailoa's health in the game between them? -- but that at least feels unlikely.
Scenario 3: Georgia loses to No. 12 Auburn but then wins out, LSU finishes 12-1, Alabama finishes 11-1 (9% chance of occurring)
Even with the SEC championship secured, Georgia would have only a 19% shot at the playoff due to its second loss.
The SEC putting two non-champion teams into the playoff would be pretty wild, but LSU (81%) and Alabama (74%) would have a good chance to make it happen.
Scenario 4: Georgia wins out, LSU loses to Texas A&M, Alabama finishes 11-1 (1% chance of occurring)
This is actually too unlikely for the Allstate Playoff Predictor to hand out specific odds, but suffice it to say LSU's loss is Alabama's gain. The Crimson Tide would probably join the Bulldogs in the playoff.
What about Auburn?
Let's call that scenario No. 5. Imagine if Auburn won out -- beating Georgia and Alabama -- to finish as a two-loss non-champ with impressive wins. If LSU also won out, Auburn would have a 26% chance to reach the playoff. In other words: It's possible.
I suppose it's also worth mentioning that No. 11 Florida (2% chance!) isn't completely out of it, but it would need a lot of help to win the division, then would have to win the SEC and then only maybe (38%) could get in.
What about 3 SEC teams?
The Allstate Playoff Predictor gives the SEC a 3% chance to put a trio of teams into the playoff -- the same percentage No. 8 Minnesota has of landing a CFP berth. SEC fans hoping for this should root for Georgia to win the conference and chaos to reign everywhere else.
One non-SEC topic: Can Minnesota sustain a loss?
Look, our model is very down on the Golden Gophers' chances of actually reaching the playoff. It's not about their résumé -- it's just that their chance to actually win the games they need (over Wisconsin and Ohio State and maybe Iowa).
Minnesota has only a 1% chance to win out, though technically it might not need to do so. Should P.J. Fleck's team lose at Iowa this weekend and then run the table after that, the Gophers would actually have a better strength of record than an 11-1 Alabama, a 13-0 Clemson, a 12-1 Oregon or a 12-1 Baylor or Oklahoma. That'd be enough to give them a 31% chance to get in, though the committee could still probably say Minnesota wasn't one of the four best teams at that point.
Lauren Poe contributed to this article.