Alabama doesn't need Tua Tagovailoa next Saturday, and the Crimson Tide don't need a win against LSU.
Those were two of the points made Tuesday by Joseph Goodman, an AL.com columnist who said Alabama rushing back its Heisman candidate quarterback against the Tigers is "risky" and "unnecessary."
"Give him a good month and a half. Make sure he is perfect for the Iron Bowl, or as close to perfect as he can be after injuring his ankle against Tennessee," Goodman wrote. "The College Football Playoff committee isn’t going to keep one-loss Alabama out of the postseason based on a loss to No.1 LSU that came without Tua at quarterback."
Tagovailoa, who boasts the best QBR in college football this season, suffered a high ankle sprain against the Vols on October 19.
It remains unclear if he'll be healthy in time for the expected No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup between Alabama and LSU on Nov. 9.
"Is the College Football Playoff committee going to punish Alabama for playing it safe with their star quarterback? No, it’s not because that would be cruel and set a reckless precedent. Tua’s not even being paid," Goodman added. "A loss to LSU without Tua doesn’t hurt the resume as much as a loss to LSU with him, and will anyone even remember that game when Alabama beats Auburn by 30 points in Jordan-Hare Stadium?"
A one-loss Alabama team would have a strong argument to reach the playoff, Goodman says.
There are currently eight undefeated teams, including LSU and Alabama. Ohio State, Clemson, Penn State Baylor and Minnesota are all in power five conferences while SMU and Appalachian State are in non-power five conferences. Notre Dame, an independent, is the only non-power five team to reach the playoffs.
Ohio State, Penn State and Minnesota are all in the Big 10, meaning only one could remain undefeated at the end of conference championship game.
The 2017 season was the only time two teams from the same conference reached the four-team playoff. Georgia and Alabama were both put into the semifinal by the committee.
Both teams won their semifinal games, and Tagovailoa led a massive comeback in the second half of the championship game give Alabama the title.
"Losing to LSU is the easiest path to the College Football Playoff for Alabama," he wrote. "The Crimson Tide could then avoid either Georgia or Florida in the SEC championship game. We’ve all heard the argument that Alabama doesn’t have any signature wins so far this season, and it will keep them out of the playoff if they lose to LSU."
LSU's last victory in the rivalry came in 2011, the last time the top two teams in the AP poll played each other in the regular season. The Tigers won in Tuscaloosa, 9-6.
The two SEC West rivals later met in the national championship game that season, which the Tide won. Alabama has not lost in the annual rivalry since.
You can read the full column here.