Can The SEC Be Left Out Of The College Football Playoff? The Nightmare Scenario
No way … the CFP without the SEC? It would take some moving parts, but it’s possible. Here’s how.
How the SEC could be left out of the College Football Playoff
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No way. It won’t happen. It can’t happen.
There can’t be a College Football Playoff without an SEC team. That would be like Christmas without presents, a Dunkin Donuts with no doughnuts, or a strip club with no strippers.
(By the way, throw in an Arby’s that runs out of roast beef, and I’ve experienced all of the above.)
There’s NO way that can happen, right? After all, there’s a far, far better possibility of two SEC teams getting in – if Alabama easily beats Auburn, and then Georgia goes 12-1 with an SEC championship over an unbeaten Crimson Tide – then for the league to be left out.
But there is a path for the unthinkable to happen. It would require the College Football Playoff committee to stick to its precedent, but it’s possible.
How does the SEC get left out of the big four? Here we go …
Wisconsin goes 13-0. Done deal, over, no debate. The CFP would never leave out an unbeaten Power Five conference champion.
Oklahoma goes 12-1 with a Big 12 title. The Iowa State loss at home would be a part of the discussion, but forget about it. The Ohio State win in Columbus and being a one-loss P5 champ ends that.
Those two things have to be locked in. And actually, Wisconsin is probably closer to getting a spot if it goes 12-1 with a Big Ten title. But for now, just assume two seats are taken.
And here’s where the College Football Playoff committee would have to stick to what it established over the first three seasons.
The only reason Ohio State got in last year at 11-1 without winning its division is because of the big, giant wins over Oklahoma and Wisconsin on the road and Michigan to close things out. The resume was just too amazing to ignore.
To cut through the hoo-ha, Alabama’s resume sort of stinks.
There’s no win at Oklahoma like last year’s Buckeyes could boast. There isn’t even a win like 2016 OSU had in Madison or over the Wolverines.
There’s nothing to hang the houndstooth hat on other than, what, Fresno State? An LSU team that was beaten by Troy? A Texas A&M team that was beaten by UCLA? Colorado State? Mississippi State? No, really, what has Alabama actually done? Florida State?
Yeah, Clemson and Miami took down the Seminoles, too. And there’s your problem, SEC.
Again, if you accept that the Big Ten and Big 12 are in, then here’s how this works.
Scenario 1: Alabama loses at Auburn to finish 11-1 with no division title and a mediocre resume. Auburn beats Georgia in a rematch for the SEC Championship.
And then the ACC Championship becomes the theoretical discussion no matter which way it goes.
Assuming both the Tigers and Canes don’t stumble in their final regular season games, let’s say Clemson beats Miami. Clemson is a no-brainer in, and then it comes down to 11-1 Miami with a blowout win over Notre Dame, or an 11-2 Auburn with two wins over Georgia and the victory over Alabama.
Again, go back to the 2016 precedent set by the committee. 11-1 Ohio State with a great win, in over a two-loss Penn State with a championship in the best conference in football – at least last season – and a slew of solid victories. So either the committee would have to go with Miami, or it would have to admit that it made a mistake last year. Or …
Scenario 2: Miami beats Clemson close. Miami is a no-brainer in, and then it comes down to 11-2 Clemson vs. 11-2 Auburn. Auburn with the SEC Championship, right? But Clemson has the 14-6 win over the other Tigers.
The committee would probably go with Auburn because of its finishing kick, but the howling would be deafening from the defending national champs about the head-to-head part of the equation.
Okay, you’re not buying it. So if you still want the SEC out, try this …
Scenario 3: Georgia loses at Georgia Tech. Don’t blow this off – strange things happen in this rivalry. Auburn beats Alabama, Georgia beats Auburn in the SEC Championship, Clemson beats Miami, which means the debate is between a two-loss SEC Champion Georgia vs. an 11-1 Miami that beat Georgia Tech. And then it would go back to 11-1 division-winner Miami vs. an 11-1 Alabama without an amazing win.
Still don’t like it? Still can’t get past Alabama being left out? Okay …
Scenario 4: Alabama beats Auburn. Georgia loses to Georgia Tech, but beats Alabama for the SEC Championship. Clemson beats Miami. Clemson gets in, meaning it’s down to 11-1 Miami vs. 11-2 Georgia with SEC championship vs. 11-1 Alabama for one spot. Miami has the one loss to Georgia’s two, it beat the Yellow Jackets, who just beat Georgia, who just beat Alabama.
Alright, alright … I can feel your brain oozing out of your ears at this point.
I’m not saying any of this is going to happen, and I sort of think Alabama is in no matter what from here on.