It's early in the college football season, but the SEC already looks great. Auburn's got their big victory over Oregon, LSU's got theirs over Texas, Alabama's Alabama, Florida's in the top ten, and Georgia's dominant. That brings up an interesting question: Can the SEC pull off having three playoff teams?
Let's look at the other conferences. It's practically impossible for a Group of Five team to get in, even if they go undefeated into the bowl season (see Central Florida). The ACC has a strong Clemson team and only Clemson, so the thought of having an all-SEC playoff goes right out the window. The Pac-12 appears destined to miss the playoff again unless Utah goes undefeated with some help. The Big 12's best hope is Oklahoma and only Oklahoma, barring a miracle run from any of the remaining undefeated Big 12 teams (TCU, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Baylor) or a strong finish by Texas. The Big Ten does have Ohio State, who looks like a legitimate threat, and teams like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Penn State. However, these schools usually beat each other up and Ohio State tends to trip up against a middle-of-the-pack opponent. Notre Dame does have a tough schedule featuring road games at Michigan and Georgia coming up.
As for the SEC itself, here's how the scenario would work. LSU or Auburn would beat Alabama in their match-up. Either school would have to have at most one loss in their conference to hold the tiebreaker over Alabama (Alabama would have to have their only loss be against either LSU or Auburn). The SEC Championship would be between the SEC West winner of either LSU or Auburn and the SEC East winner of either Florida or Georgia (preferably Georgia). The SEC East winner would have to be undefeated, but would have to lose a close game to the SEC West winner. If both participants are undefeated, the game would just have to be close.
Of course, this is all contingent on a multitude of factors. The aforementioned scenario applies. But certain teams, namely Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Notre Dame, would have to lose at least one game. The games they lose would have to be to a middle-of-the-pack school, namely Kansas State, Maryland, or USC. Losing two would be nice for the SEC, but just one loss would suffice.
I don't know how a dominantly-SEC playoff would fare with college football fans. The ratings would be big, especially in the south (it would likely be an all-southern playoff with Clemson). But non-SEC fans sans Clemson wouldn't have much of an interest aside from the games Alabama and Clemson are in. But SEC commissioner Greg Sankey would be rolling in the money if this scenario were to happen.
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