The SEC is three weeks away from saving its season.
Never thoughts the dearth of high quality groups within the convention. Or the truth that LSU already misplaced to Troy and Arkansas almost misplaced to Coastal Carolina. Or that one high-profile program has already parted methods with its head coach, and some extra may observe go well with by season’s finish. Pay no consideration to the truth that the convention is not on the high of its recreation anymore and so lots of its high packages are crumbling.
What the SEC would have you ever deal with is Georgia and Alabama and the titillating risk that each groups end the common season undefeated, face each other within the SEC championship recreation and, barring a blowout loss, advance to the College Football Playoff. Commissioner Greg Sankey and the “It Just Means More” crowd might actually thump their chest if the SEC grew to become the primary convention to get two packages into the four-team playoff.
But there’s a wrinkle within the equation, and its identify is Auburn.
Putting a finger on the mercurial Tigers has been an nearly inconceivable activity this season. Take the Clemson recreation in Week 2. On the one hand, Auburn’s offense was anemic, Jarrett Stidham was crushed by 11 sacks they usually misplaced, 14-6. But so far as losses go, an Eight-point loss on the street towards the defending nationwide champions is a creditable consequence. What’s extra, the Auburn protection confirmed that it was nearly as good as any within the nation that night time.
But when an excellent loss is the very best factor in your resume, that’s an issue. Because there’s no getting round a blown 20-point lead on the street at LSU. And there’s a fair larger situation: Where are the signature wins? Is it one over an excellent however not nice Mississippi State crew? It’s exhausting to make the argument that beating unranked, 5-Four Texas A&M qualifies. Outside of cupcakes Georgia Southern and Mercer, you’re three wins over sub-.500 groups in Arkansas, Missouri and Ole Miss.
If you need to name them paper tigers — if you wish to level to an unreliable offensive lineman, the harm to final yr’s main rusher Kamryn Pettway or a quarterback in Stidham who hasn’t really been examined — the ammunition is there to take action.
What lies forward might change the whole lot, although.
While it’s exhausting to place your whole confidence in Gus Malzahn’s bunch, there’s no denying that they management their very own future. Win out, and nobody goes to depart them out of the playoff even with two losses already on the desk. The downside? By operating the desk, they’d additionally wreck the SEC’s fever dream of Alabama and Georgia lining up on reverse ends of the bracket and ultimately badembly in an all-SEC nationwide championship recreation.
Alabama, regardless of having the most important level margin in all the FBS (280) and being nearly past description by way of its dominance, won’t have the resume to help shedding within the Iron Bowl to Auburn. Florida State was alleged to be that flagship victory, however the Crimson Tide protection made the error of knocking Deondre Francois out for the yr through the season-opener and thereby sending the Seminoles down the drain from a stylish playoff decide to unranked. If LSU drops out of the highest 25 after shedding to Alabama this week, the Tide wouldn’t have a single win over a ranked opponent this season. And if Auburn wins out, Alabama would have the identical variety of convention wins and lose the head-to-head tiebreaker and miss the convention title recreation.
Georgia, then again, is in a distinct form of predicament. Its Week 2 win on the street towards No. three Notre Dame has the look of a trump card, however what if Auburn beats them not simply as soon as however twice? That might occur if the Tigers win this Saturday, beat Alabama and attain the SEC title recreation the place Georgia would await once more. And after two losses to the identical crew, there could be no convincing the CFP committee to confess Georgia into the playoff. The outcry nationally could be past comprehension. Now the percentages of any of this occurring are actually slim. It’s nearly simply as possible that Auburn will lose each video games and folk on The Plains might be calling for Gus Malzahn’s job after going Zero-Eight towards his chief rivals since 2013.
But let’s not overlook what occurred 4 years in the past. Auburn was ranked No. 7 again then when it wanted a Hail Mary, tipped cross to fall into Ricardo Louis’ fingers to beat No. 25 Georgia in what grew to become often known as “The Prayer at Jordan-Hare.” And then, two weeks later, No. 1-ranked Alabama got here to city and the “Kick Six” occurred when, with the sport tied at 28 and 1 second remaining, Nick Saban went for the game-winning discipline aim, it fell brief and Chris Davis returned it greater than 100 yards for a walk-off landing.
So, yeah, miracles can occur.
It’s to not say they are going to, however watch out. Georgia and Alabama could appear to be they’re in a category all their very own, unbeaten and ranked No. 1 and a pair of within the nation, however Auburn is knocking on the door.
Be cautious or the Tigers may simply kick the factor in and crash their very own convention’s get together.