Talk of the Tide: SEC's Title Contenders Don't Need Protection Like the ACC's

There are still multiple paths for multiple SEC teams to reach the College Football Playoff
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The casual fan might have missed this in the news cycle over the last few days. 

But the Atlantic Coast Conference nixed No. 2 Notre Dame's final regular-season game against Wake Forest and announced it wouldn't reschedule an 11th game for No. 3 Clemson. 

Both of those contests would have taken place on Dec. 12, a week prior to Championship Saturday. 

Instead, due to the Fighting Irish holding every tie-breaker, it will move on to the ACC title game, and as long as Clemson defeats Virginia Tech on Saturday, the Tigers will join them in a rematch of a game Notre Dame won in double-overtime earlier this season. 

What's the significance? 

Well it almost certainly guarantees both schools into the College Football Playoff if Clemson is able to win the second time around as both schools would be sitting at 10-1. 

There's no denying that it's a smart move for the ACC to protect its contenders and soak up all the revenue it can, but is it the right move? 

Originally, the ACC committed to playing an 11-game regular-season schedule, but what does it say, when an entire week of games is axed to make sure that its contenders have its best interest at the forefront rather than the rest of the conference?

That move certainly puzzled Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey, who has four teams inside the top 10 of the latest playoff rankings (No. 1 Alabama, No. Texas A&M, No. 6 Florida, and No. 8 Georgia). 

"I was surprised to see their announcement," Sankey told CBS Sports. "It begs one question: If their two most highly ranked teams were, for instance, [ranked] five and six in the CFP Rankings, would this decision have been made?"

To answer Sankey's question, that's an emphatic no and it's exactly why the SEC is going to march on and play its Dec. 12 slate of games, even though its division races could be wrapped up on Saturday if Alabama beats LSU and Florida beats Tennessee. 

It hasn't been officially announced yet but the Crimson Tide still would have to travel to Fayetteville, Ark. for a meeting with the Razorbacks and the Gators have a game currently scheduled with the Bayou Bengals that weekend. 

Just think about it. 

In a normal year, those games would be played regardless if the division races and conference-championship participants are already decided. Why do it now? 

The SEC committed to 70 games this season and have gotten in 55 so far. Barring anymore postponements, it appears the conference is going to get pretty darn close to that original number.

TV contracts and partners are important here, too. 

But do you think coaches like Nick Saban or Dan Mullen are complaining to the league office about having to suit up to play a 10th conference game when their spots could be sealed in Atlanta? Do you think they would want an easier path or their conference to create one for them? 

Heck no. 

Right now, the SEC can boast that its the only conference in the playoff-era to have two teams in during the same year back in 2017 when Alabama and Georgia did it. 

This move by the ACC is it trying to accomplish the same feat -- get Clemson and Notre Dame in -- so the conference is banking on the Tigers winning. Wouldn't it be something if the Fighting Irish beat them a second time? 

Wouldn't it be something if Texas A&M finishes 9-1 and No. 4 Ohio State can't play next weekend against Michigan and is ruled ineligible to play in the Big Ten title game?

With the Buckeyes only playing five games in that scenario, the committee would be hard pressed not to select the Aggies who would have a larger body of work and the best win between both schools (Florida). 

That chaos only happens if the Crimson Tide takes care of business against Florida in Atlanta, if that is indeed the matchup. Or if the Gators beats Alabama, both are still in the playoff because Saban's squad wouldn't fall out of the top four more than likely 

Regardless, the ACC can pull out all the tricks it can, it still might fail and we get two SEC teams in the College Football Playoff. 

Like the trademark slogan goes, it just means more.

BamaCentral's own Tyler Martin breaks it all down in this week's Talk of the Tide.