"It was very disappointing," Prescott told reporters. "We squandered a lot of points. We lost focus in the game. You have to win in the red zone, but we squandered our chances. Alabama is a great team. They did a good job (with defensive) scheming, but I think it was on us."
Alabama's path to the CFP has been evident for weeks. The Tide have successfully completed the first two legs of their late-season gauntlet, defeating LSU in Baton Rouge and taking down Mississippi State. They'll have to atone for their heartbreaking 2013 loss to Auburn in two weeks and win the SEC championship—most likely against Missouri—to stay alive.
Florida State also knows it can't lose. The Seminoles have not defeated a team currently ranked inside The Associated Press Top 25 and have built their resume on a series of nail-biters. The defending champs earned their third victory of the season after trailing by 15 or more points, overcoming two separate 16-point deficits in their 30-26 win over Miami.
Jameis Winston threw for 304 yards and Dalvin Cook gained 92 on only seven carries, adding two critical touchdowns. Cook's 44-yard score in the second quarter helped stop the bleeding after the Hurricanes scored the game's first 16 points, and his 26-yard scamper with 3:05 remaining capped off the comeback.
"They love each other and it gets down to that," Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher told reporters. "They play for each other. They don't panic. This is a heck of a Miami football team. Give them credit...but our kids just execute when they have to."
Florida State finishes the regular season with home games against Boston College and Florida. By all accounts, the Seminoles should skate through rather easily to a 12-0 finish. Boston College is a 6-4 team coming off a drubbing against Louisville, and Florida, despite being a rival, is playing out its season with a lame-duck coach. These are games elite teams—even ones as flawed as these Seminoles—should pull off without much issue. Looking ahead, the Seminoles should expect to face either Duke or Georgia Tech in the ACC championship.
It'll be interesting to see how the committee reacts if Florida State comes close to losing either contest. None of the remaining power-five teams with zero or one loss play another the rest of the way. It's possible, albeit unlikely, that all seven head into the final rankings unscathed over the last few weeks.
The two SEC teams, Alabama and Mississippi State, seem like mortal locks if they finish with one loss. Both have at least one more game against a ranked opponent, and getting through the SEC West with one loss is a feat that's virtually unparalleled.
Oregon, which has relative gimmes against Colorado and Oregon State remaining, has been a committee favorite throughout the process. Add in a Pac-12 Championship Game matchup against a team that will very likely be ranked, and the Ducks aren't likely to find themselves on the outside looking in.
That could leave TCU, Baylor and Ohio State standing in the cold. The Horned Frogs blemished their resume over the weekend by falling 10 points behind Kansas in the second half before righting the ship.
"This was not going to get any style points," TCU coach Gary Patterson told ESPN.com's Jake Trotter. "I know it'll probably hurt us. But the biggest thing is we got to 9-1. We found a way to win on the road, with some bounces that didn't go our way. A lot of teams would have lost this game."
Baylor, which still owns the head-to-head advantage against TCU, is home for its last three games. The Bears will most likely be Kansas State's biggest fans down the stretch, as the Wildcats remain their greatest chance to play a ranked opponent.
Ohio State might be playing the best football of the trio after consecutive road wins against ranked opponents but has nothing of substance remaining before the Big Ten Championship Game. Indiana and rival Michigan should be pushovers; the Buckeyes' only hope is that Wisconsin is rolling as a Top 10 team by the time the likely opponents meet.
In a nutshell: Everything and nothing is settled. Should everyone win out, it's likely we're looking at the nation's top four teams heading into the playoff. That said, we're about one upset loss away from total chaos.
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