Could The SEC Champ Be Left Out Of Playoff?
By Dan Harralson
There is still nearly a few weeks before June 21 officially kicks off the summer, but in many parts of the country Memorial weekend usually represents the unofficial kickoff.
Summer means vacations, beach time, weddings and your favorite water cooler spots to talk about the upcoming college football season.
Many college football magazines have released over the holiday weekend, the college football countdown clock is under 100 days and the calendar only allows six weeks until conference media days.
Time is ticking and that means the first real look at the landscape of the upcoming season.
Which teams have a chance of making the playoff?
ACC: Florida State
There's no doubt that Florida State is back on the national scene. They're back and maybe even better than last season's BCS national championship team. Famous Jameis Winston is the type of player who will get his team back to the national championship game and he may even be doing it as a back-to-back Heisman Trophy winner.
Big Ten: Ohio State
Ohio State will always have a shot at making the College Football Playoff as long as Urban Meyer is the head coach. Braxton Miller is back for his senior season, but can the Buckeyes again go through an easy schedule and then adjust when they face a good defense in Virginia Tech and Michigan State?
Big 12: Oklahoma
The Trevor Knight-led Sooners should continue their momentum into the 2014 season. Knight and Oklahoma looked impressive in the Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama, which should be the blueprint for success this season.
Oklahoma still needs to rebound and get over the hump against Baylor. If Stoops and company can, there's no doubt Oklahoma will be College Football Playoff bound. Right now, I like for Oklahoma to defeat Baylor on Nov. 8.
The Ducks have Marcus Mariota back, but will that be enough for Oregon to make a playoff berth? Second-year head coach Mark Helfrich needs to prove he is a championship-caliber coach by eliminating embarrassing losses they have endured.
The Ducks may be eliminated from playoff contention early as they host to Michigan State in their second game. Other potential losses include UCLA, Arizona and Stanford.
SEC: Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina
The SEC is once again the premier conference, and three teams that have a legitimate chance of making the College Football Playoff. South Carolina could win the SEC and miss the playoff. Yes that's right, they could win the conference and miss playing for it all.
Spurrier and the Gamecocks travel to Auburn on Oct. 25 and a loss on top of another regular season loss could still win the SEC East.
Alabama and Auburn could have a repeat of 2013 and have the Iron Bowl determine the SEC West. On top of playing for the right to make Atlanta, the Tide and Tigers could be undefeated.
Say Alabama wins, and then plays South Carolina in Atlanta, Spurrier could continue his success over Saban (improving his career record to 4-1 over Saban). A 12-1 Alabama and an 11-1 Auburn would and should have a higher pecking order to make the playoff over a two-loss South Carolina team, especially with Auburn potentially defeating Carolina in the regular season.
Which Four Teams Will Make The Innaguaral College Football Playoff?
The 2014 College Football Playoff could easily become a pair of BCS rematch games from a season ago.
Florida State and Jameis Winston will enter as the No. 1 seed and play the No. 4 seed Auburn, once again in the Rose Bow, and once again the 'Noles will be victorious.
The other College Football Playoff semifinal matchup will showcase another rematch from last year's bowl season.
No. 2 Oklahoma will take on No. 3 Alabama once again in New Orleans. This time, much like usual, Nick Saban hardly ever loses back-to-back games to an opponent. The Crimson Tide will be playing for another national championship.
Saban won't have the luxury of having as much time preparing for an opponent like he did leading into a BCS national championship game, but Saban knows he can draw up a blueprint to prevail against Jameis Winston.
Much like Saban's previous national championships, this would be quirky.
In 2003, he shared it with USC; in 2011, he needed Oklahoma State to lose to get back into the title game after losing to LSU; in 2012, the Tide needed Oregon and Kansas State to lose to avenge their loss to Texas A&M.
The BCS era may be over, but a pair of semifinal playoff games could easily resemble BCS games of a season ago. A national championship matchup that a lot thought would happen before an Auburn 108-yard missed field goal return could materialize: Jameis Winston vs. Nick Saban.