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No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 11 Florida matchup and 2021 CFB playoff implications

The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide and No. 11 Florida Gators face off Saturday. We break down what this matchup means for the 2021 College Football Playoff.

Bryce Young and Paul Tyson of the Alabama Crimson Tide warms up prior to facing the Mercer Bears at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 11, 2021 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide take on the No. 11 Florida Gators Saturday in The Swamp. But what could this game mean come December when the field for the College Football Playoff is announced? We take a look at the implications for reaching the Final Four below.

Alabama: (2-0, 0-0 SEC) vs. Florida: (2-0, 0-0 SEC)

2021 SP+ Rankings

Alabama: 1 overall, 3 offense, 4 defense
Florida: 9 overall, 7 offense, 23 defense

Team Talent from

Alabama: 1 overall, 1 offense, 1 defense
Florida: 5 overall, 5 offense, 10 defense

Against The Spread 2021

Alabama: 1-1 ATS
Florida: 0-2 ATS

Latest Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Alabama -15.5
Total: 58.5
Moneyline: Alabama -720, Florida +500

The good news for both teams here is this game is hardly an eliminator for the Cotton and Orange Bowls. Since this is a cross-divisional game that happens just once every 14 years (and can we change that to make it more often someday soon, SEC?), even with a loss both teams can still run out and make the SEC Championship on December 4th.

If you win the SEC Championship, you’re in the College Football Playoff. That’s not technically in the rules, but it is a reality. No SEC champion has ever been left out of the Playoff, which is something that’s happened at least once to each of the other Power Five leagues.

The beauty of being in the SEC is you get at least one mulligan a year as long as it’s not in your division. The winner here has a slightly easier path to the Playoff, but the loser just needs to win the other nine games on their schedule, the overwhelming majority of which will be easier than this weekend, and maybe as few as eight.

It’s also possible these teams meet up again in Atlanta for the SEC title (though Georgia’s No. 1-ranked defense will have something to say about that), in which case the outcome of that game will mean a lot more than what happens Saturday.

So while this is the biggest game of the weekend in college football, the sport that penalizes a single loss more than any other, in this instance the loser will be wounded but not fatally. Let’s hope we get a good one in Gainesville on Saturday.