No. 1 Alabama in control of fate, wants to keep it that way

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Nick Saban doesn't want to leave Alabama's fate in the hands of a committee.

The top-ranked Crimson Tide certainly is the closest team to a lock at making the College Football Playoffs if it wins out, but the precarious nature of that race was driven home when the rest of the top four teams fell last weekend.

Alabama would make the playoffs for a third straight season with wins over FCS team Chattanooga, No. 18 Auburn and in the Southeastern Conference championship game. The Chattanooga game on Saturday seems to offer little risk of an upset, but Saban can use the losses by Michigan, Clemson and Washington to illustrate the added comfort of making the playoff selection committee's choice a no-brainer.

''The message is when you win, you control your own destiny,'' he said Monday. ''When you don't, you allow someone else to determine what your fate's going to be. We have all these teams that lost one game now. Somebody has to decide who gets to do what.

''If you put yourself in that situation, you let somebody else decide what your fate is. If you take care of your business and do things the way you need to do it, then maybe you can control your own destiny in the way you play.''

Alabama, which sports a 22-game winning streak, has already clinched the SEC West title and hasn't shown any signs that a slipup is likely. The Tide has allowed just three points in the last two games, beating No. 16 LSU 10-0 and Mississippi State 51-3 while easily dispatching four ranked opponents in the last five games.

An early kickoff for a 51-3 win over Mississippi State gave Tide players a chance to watch other games around the country, including those upsets.

''It's kind of an eye-opener,'' center Bradley Bozeman said.

Alabama had locked up the West outright by early evening, when Georgia upset No. 18 Auburn.

Saban gave the Tide Monday off from practice to recuperate from that SEC stretch before the Iron Bowl. That doesn't mean he's any easier on his players just because the opponent is an FCS team.

''He's going to be the same regardless of who we're playing,'' wide receiver ArDarius Stewart said. ''That's what makes our team so great. We play to a standard, and he keeps it that way.''

TIDE NOTE: Quarterback Jalen Hurts is SEC co-offensive player of the week along with LSU tailback Derrius Guice. ... Tailback Bo Scarbrough missed the Mississippi State game with a sprained knee, but Saban said he's OK medically to play once he gets his confidence back up. ... Right guard Alphonse Taylor hasn't played in the last four games after starting four straight, and may not return this season. The senior sustained a concussion in the Arkansas game. ''I think that's a medical decision,'' Saban said. ''I am not assuming that he's going to come back. It would be a bonus if he did. I don't think he will, based on the amount of time that we've had, so it's something that we're still evaluating but it's something that we're not counting on.''

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