Can the SEC still have two teams earn berths in the College Football Playoff?
Head to Head debates the biggest topics in college football. With the uncertainty surrounding the College Football Playoff and the competitive nature of arguably the best conference in college football, our panel debates whether or not Georgia's 38-20 loss to Florida means that no matter what shakes out, the SEC will not occupy two spots in the final CFP rankings.
A couple of decades ago, a guy from Athens, Georgia, scribbled these words onto a piece of scrap paper:
“It’s the end of the world as we know it.
And I feel fine.”
It’s fitting this song was written by a group of people who are considered Athens' second-greatest export, because it is the SEC theme song as we put Week 10 in the rearview mirror.
Feel fine, SEC people -- ya ain’t dead yet. Even you Bulldogs fans can keep hope alive. It won’t be easy, but if there was an easy way to do things … well, that’s just not the Georgia way. The Dawgs no longer control their own destiny, but there is still a chance Georgia makes it to the SEC title game.
There currently are three SEC teams in the top four in the AP rankings. When the College Football Playoff rankings come out on Tuesday, it’s not that much of a stretch to believe there will be three SEC teams in the committee’s rankings. Those three teams are Mississippi State, Auburn and Alabama. Those teams also play in the SEC West. In the kaleidoscope that college football fans are peering through, trying to figure out this whole thing, it works to the SEC's favor to have competitive football teams.
There is no Big Blue computer crunching data while not watching football games. The BCS computer’s hard drive would have crashed if it had to compute Georgia losing to Florida, but beating Missouri, which lost to a winless Indiana. The selection committee is made of actual human beings. People who watch football, people who can identify a nickel defense and know the difference between a blast and a counter. Data is just one of the many tools the selection committee will use when determining the Football Four, but it is not the only thing.
It is the College Football Playoff committee’s responsibility to pick the four best football programs in this inaugural event. There is a better than average chance at least one undefeated team makes it the final Football Four. But there also is the possibility there will be a two-loss team in there. Looking at the top teams in the SEC West -- Mississippi State is undefeated, Auburn and Alabama have one loss, while Ole Miss and LSU have two knocks against them. When you the play the “If and What” game, a two-loss team might win the SEC.
The SEC West is the most competitive football division in the country. The committee cannot overlook that.
American treasure Brent Musburger said it best when commenting about the perceived bias for the SEC: “They are the best. Deal with it.”
-- Craig Thomas, NCAA.com
The SEC will not have two teams in the College Football Playoff, so the rest of the college-football-watching universe can exhale.
The “eyeball test” reveals no team from the SEC East is worthy of playing for the national championship, so that eliminates seven conference teams.
In the SEC West, it’s down to front-runners Mississippi State, Auburn and Alabama.
Alabama plays LSU on Saturday, Mississippi State on Nov. 15, Auburn on Nov. 29 -- if Alabama wins all three of those games, the Crimson Tide will have the SEC Championship Game as a layover to a CFP semifinal game.
Mississippi State has Alabama and Ole Miss, on Nov. 29, as its hurdles. The Bulldogs’ last win against Bama was 2007 and are 18-76-3 all-time against Alabama. … True, past performance is not an accurate predictor but let’s just agree that it’s Bama.
Auburn has three weeks to hone itself before the Iron Bowl; beating Texas A&M, Georgia and Samford should not be an overwhelming task for the Tigers. Clearly this is the easiest path to the SEC title game among the top three contenders.
However, the Tigers need Mississippi State to lose to Alabama and Ole Miss since the Bulldogs hold the tie-breaker after beating Auburn 38-23 in October. (MSU also has Vandy as a remaining conference game, but pulling an upset seems to be a long shot, at best, for the Commodores.)
Against common opponents -- Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss and Texas A&M -- Alabama is 2-1, Auburn and Mississippi State are 3-0.
LSU is on the outside looking in. The Bayou Bengals need Auburn to lose twice; anyone see that happening? And even if LSU backed into the SEC championship, Notre Dame lurks as the ultimate wild card for the CFP committee.
Auburn, Bama, Mississippi State -- from those three will come the SEC’s CFP representative, if at all. (If Mizzou or Georgia upsets the apple cart and wins the conference championship, you can bank on the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 or Notre Dame filling the postseason dance card.)
For all the teeth-gnashing and bulletin-board ranting that has gone on since the release of the inaugural CFP rankings, fans should understand that it’s nothing more than window dressing. As for the analysts who continue to have two or three SEC teams in their top four, it’s nonsense.
The games will play out on the field. In the end, the best four teams will be paired in the bracket and three games later a national champion will be crowned. Rest assured, at most there will be one SEC team.
Personally, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility -- and that sanity could be restored to three-fourths of the country -- that no SEC team will be in play to hoist the trophy.
-- Duane Cross, NCAA.com