Tua Tagovailoa’s injury made Alabama’s path to the College Football Playoff’ that much more difficult. Already at No. 5 and no longer controlling their own destiny to make the SEC Championship Game, the Tide need several things to fall into place to get a shot at breaking through to the top 4.

During ESPN’s College Football Playoff rankings show on Tuesday, ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit stated that he didn’t feel that Alabama should be docked for a situation it had no control over in the end. However, the Tide’s fate could rest in how they do in the Iron Bowl.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to punish Bama because of the injury to Tua, but you have to sit and wait to see how they perform in their game against Auburn,” Herbstreit said. “I personally thought that with Tua or without Tua, Alabama eventually after the final games are played would be on the outside looking in. I don’t think this is that Bama team that you just say on the eye test, ‘Oh, they’re much better than everybody else.’ Even with Tua, I felt that, because of how young they are on defense.”

That might make it easier for a team outside of the SEC to move into the top 4 in Georgia slips in the SEC Championship Game next month.

“I think (Alabama is) going to just sit there (at No. 5) and be a placeholder. Eventually you’ll see an opening, and I think that’s where the Pac-12 Champion will get by Georgia (if they lose to LSU) and by Alabama will be the winner of that Oregon-Utah game on Friday night.”