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What Bryce Young’s shoulder injury means for Alabama’s SEC, CFP hopes

The Crimson Tide could be without the reigning Heisman winner.

Alabama v Arkansas
Bryce Young of the Alabama Crimson Tide walks into the stadium before a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on October 01, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Saturday update: It looks like Young’s shoulder sprain isn’t serious, and Nick Saban says the quarterback is officially day-to-day. That’s good news for Alabama. Young might still sit out against Texas A&M in Week 6, but his chances of playing at Tennessee just went way up with this news.

The Alabama Crimson Tide had a bit of a scare in Week 5 against the Arkansas Razorbacks, watching their SEC West rivals pour in 23 unanswered points before eventually running away with the game. One of the reasons Arkansas got back in the game was the absence of reigning Heisman winner Bryce Young, who left the game with a shoulder sprain.

Given Young’s position, a shoulder sprain could still impact his play even if he manages to suit up next week against Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide shouldn’t have much of an issue with the Aggies either way. The real test comes the following week against Tennessee.

What matters now is how severe the sprain is. A low-grade sprain can typically heal within a couple weeks, meaning Young should be available for the game against the Volunteers. A mid-grade or high-grade sprain means a longer recovery time, and could potentially put Young out for more than just one or two games. The Volunteers might beat Alabama with Young at the helm anyway but that is suddenly the biggest game on Alabama’s schedule.

To make the playoff, Alabama can afford one loss assuming it still wins the SEC West and then wins the SEC championship game. An undefeated Alabama team losing in the SEC title game would likely still make the playoff. There’s some trap games on the schedule like LSU and Ole Miss which could trip Alabama up, especially if Young is out for a long time.

Alabama has enough talent to withstand Young’s injury for a few weeks. It is unlikely to make the CFP or SEC title game if Young doesn’t return for the rest of the season.