Skip to main content

The first set of rankings—the ones that really matter—will be released by the College Football Playoff selection committee on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

But as of Sunday afternoon there were four SEC teams ranked in the top seven of the Associated Press media poll: Georgia (1), Tennessee (3), Alabama (6) and Ole Miss (7).

Now the SEC has gotten two teams in the CFP twice (2017 and 2021) Both times it was Georgia and Alabama. Alabama won the national championship in 2017 while Georgia won it last season.

But SEC fans are looking at four teams in the top seven of the polls and thinking:

“Hey! Why not three?”

It’s never happened before but if we’ve learned anything about the playoff since it began in 2014 is that ANYTHING can happen when we get to championship Saturday on Dec. 3.

But before we deal with that possible historic scenario, let’s look at the four SEC teams in contention and chart their possible path to the CFP.

No. 1 Georgia (7-0, 4-0 SEC)

Remaining schedule: vs. Florida (4-3) in Jacksonville; vs. No. 3 Tennessee (6-0),;  at Miss. State (5-2);  at Kentucky (5-2), vs. Georgia Tech (3-3).

Road to the playoff: The straightest road is, of course, to win out, which would includ include a home game with No. 3 Tennessee,  and road trips to Mississippi State and Kentucky.  That would send Georgia to the SEC championship game. Win in Atlanta andGeorgia  would likely get the No. 1 seed, which means the Bulldogs would open the playoffs in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta.

But there is another way. Georgia could lose to Tennessee and not reach the SEC championship game, which is what Alabama did in 2017. Alabama got in at 11-1 and won the national championship.

Bottom line:  Georgia can lose to Tennessee and still make the playoffs.

No. 3 Tennessee (6-0, 3-0).

Remaining schedule: vs. UT-Martin; vs. Kentucky (5-2); at No. 1 Georgia (6-0), vs. Missouri (2-4), at South Carolina (4-2), at Vanderbilt (3-4).

Road to the Playoffs: If Tennessee runs the table and wins the SEC championship game, probably in a rematch with Alabama, the Vols are obviously in, very likely as the No. 1 seed. But the Vols, if they go undefeated through the regular season, could also get in if they  lose to Alabama in Atlanta.  That’s what Georgia did last season and it ended up winning the national championship.

Bottom line: If Tennessee can get to Atlanta undefeated I belive the Vols are in the playoffs win or lose.

No. 6 Alabama (6-1, 3-1)

Remaining schedule: vs. Miss. State (5-2); at LSU (5-2); at No. 7 Ole Miss (7-0); vs. Austin Peay; vs. Auburn (3-4).

Road to the Playoffs: Back-to-back road trips to LSU (Nov. 5) and Ole Miss (Nov. 12) look daunting but you just get the sense that the Crimson Tide is going to bounce back from the Tennessee loss to run the table and make it back to Atlanta. Waiting there will likely be Tennessee in a rematch or Georgia, which beat the Crimson Tide for the national championship last January in Indianaplis.

Bottom line: Alabama has no margin for error and an that’s when Nick Saban’s teams are usually at their best.

No. 7 Ole Miss (7-0, 3-0).

Remaining schedule: at LSU (5-2); at Texas A&M (3-3); vs. No. 6 Alabama (6-1); at Arkansas (4-3); vs Miss State (5-2)

Road to the Playoffs: The Rebels are playing well but three of the next four games are on the road. Saturdays trip to LSU is huge!!!!!! Obviously if Ole Miss runs the table and wins the SEC championship game, the Rebels are in. What happens if the Rebels lose in the SEC title game and finish 12-1? They should get in but will they? Depends on who else is 12-1. 

Bottom line: Saturday's game at LSU is HUGE for the Rebels.


With four SEC teams in the top seven, Jerry Palm, the CFP guru at CBS, knew his phone was going to ring. I certainly did my part,

“You’re not the only one who has called on this,” Palm said.

The question: Is there a reasonable scenario where the SEC could get three teams in the College Football Playoff?

“It depends on how you define reasonable,” said Palm.

Let’s try  this scenario this on for size:

No. 1 Georgia loses to No. 3 Tennessee in a great game on Nov. 5 in Athens, Tennessee moves to No. 1

Georgia drops to No. 5. as undefeated Tennessee, Ohio State, Michigan and Clemson are ranked ahead of the Bulldogs

Tennessee runs the table and reaches the SEC championship game at 12-0.

Alabama runs the table to finish 11-1 and gets a rematch with Tennessee for the SEC championship on Dec. 3.

So on championship Saturday, Tennessee is No. 1.  The Ohio State-Michigan winner is No. 2, Undefeated Clemson is No. 3, Alabama is No. 4 and Georgia is No. 5.

Alabama beats Tennessee in the rematch and both get into the playoffs. So for Georgia to get in either Ohio State or Clemson would have to lose in their respective championship games if not before.. Remember that the selection committee has never kept an undefeated Power Five Conference champion out of the playoffs.

I’m assuming there will not be an undefeated Big 12 champ or an undefeated Pac-12 champ.

That's just one of many scenarios that could possibly get three SEC teams in the playoff.

"The best-case scenario (for the SEC) is for the winner of the Georgia-Tennessee game to lose in the SEC championship game," said Palm, one of the best numbers-crunchers in college football.

Understand, SEC fans, that the selection committee with find it difficult to place a THIRD SEC team in the playoffs when there are a number of one-loss teams from the Power Five available,

Personaly, I'd like to see it happen for two reasons:

1--The entertainment value of watching our friends in the Big Ten lose their collective minds; 

2--It would all but guarantee that we will have a 12-team playoff by 2024. And that would be good for everybody.

Carry on.