TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — University of Alabama senior tackle Austin Shepherd summed up what the initial rankings by the College Football Playoff Committee meant to the Crimson Tide on Tuesday night:

“Absolutely nothing.”

It’s not that Alabama isn’t happy to be sixth in the initial top 25, with the top four at the end of the season getting invitations to the inaugural playoff, it’s just it’s not even November yet.

Besides, Alabama (7-1 overall, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) has two of the top three teams on its schedule.

“It only matters where you end up at the end,” Coach Nick Saban said. “What matters to us is how we do in each and every game that we have that we have to play. We have four games left to play. If we can be successful in those games, maybe there’s a chance that we would play in the SEC Championship Game as well.

“None of it matters if we’re not successful in our games. I don’t even care, to be honest with you. Don’t know and don’t care.”

But Saban, who was speaking before the rankings were announced, didn’t quite leave it there.

“It’s great for fans, it’s great for the media,” he continued. “They can have an hour show on ESPN about who got ranked and who did this and what Lou Holtz thinks and all that. But it really doesn’t matter.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that our team is recognized in some way of being a good team based on what they’ve accomplished to this point in the season. I appreciate that. I’m happy that we’re in the conversation based on what our team has accomplished at this point but the fact of the matter is it really doesn’t matter at all, because what matters is the games you play and how you play in the games and how much success that you can have in the games that you play. Just in my thought, we have three really, really good teams that we have to play in our league to finish the season that are all ranked very, very high.”

Overall, the top the of the rankings were dominated by the SEC West, with Mississippi State first ahead of No. 3 Auburn and No. 4 Ole Miss, and No. 2 Florida State and No. 5 Oregon rounding out the top five. Including Alabama the four SEC West teams all have two games against the other three.

During its final month of the regular season Alabama has to visit what many believe the toughest venue in college football, LSU, host the top team in the nation, MSU, and then play in arguably the biggest rivalry, Auburn.

Consequently, the Crimson is one of the few teams that controls it’s own destiny. Alabama knows if it wins it’s in.

“That means everything,” Shepherd said. “Pretty much if you lose a game, you’re done. Coach said it’s kind of our own four-team playoff now.”