When the Auburn Tigers took down the top-ranked Tide in Jordan Hare Stadium on Saturday, they won much more than the Iron Bowl. With its victory, Auburn sealed its spot atop the western division of the Southeastern Conference and secured a spot in the SEC title game in Atlanta.This Saturday, Dec. 2, Auburn will have a chance to beat the Georgia Bulldogs again with the SEC crown on the line and lock itself in to the College Football Playoff for the first time.
Auburn currently sits at #2 right behind Clemson in the CFP rankings. Although Auburn has two losses to Clemson and LSU, the CFP committee put the Tigers ahead of one-loss Oklahoma (3) and undefeated Wisconsin (4), and here is why. Gus Malzahn’s team knocked off the number one ranked team in the country twice in a matter of 14 days. Although the Tigers have two losses, no one can argue against the Tigers having the best wins in the country up to this point.
The story for Auburn is “win and you’re in.” The same goes for every other team in the top four of the CFP poll. Here is how the current top 10 looks before conference championship weekend.
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Southern California
Each team in the top four, and Georgia, controls its own destiny to the playoff. The rest of the teams have nothing more than hopes and prayers. If Clemson, Auburn, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin win they are in the playoff, but what needs to happen for the Alabama Crimson Tide to get back into the mix?
Any team outside of Auburn in the top four losing would tremendously help the Tide. Miami will face off against Clemson, Oklahoma will face # 11 TCU, and Wisconsin will play Ohio State. The best chance for Alabama to get in would be for TCU to upset Oklahoma in the Big12 title game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Oklahoma has already suffered a loss to Iowa State early in the season while two-loss TCU lost to Oklahoma and Iowa State. A win by TCU would not propel the Horned Frogs into the top four and would be enough for the committee to drop Oklahoma out of the top four slots.
Another potential avenue for the Tide would be for Ohio State to beat Wisconsin. The issue is, Ohio State beating the Badgers could give the Buckeyes enough momentum to jump Alabama and land in the top four. However, that would be a big mistake by the committee.
No team has ever made the CFP while having a loss by more than 14 points. Ohio State has suffered two losses on the season. One of those losses at home to Oklahoma early in the year by 15 points and the other in early November to 7-5 Iowa by 31 points. The argument for Ohio State getting in is in all honesty absurd, but the Buckeyes have been shown favor by the playoff committee in the past.
Last season, the Buckeyes, much like the Tide this year, did not win their own division and made the playoff over Penn State who won the Big10 East and beat them in the regular season. If the committee is consistent and follows precedent, the Tide will get in over Ohio State if the Buckeyes do in fact beat the Badgers Saturday, but do not hold your breath.
If both TCU and OSU win this weekend, one of the two semi-final games could feature a rematch of the Iron Bowl. If OSU upsets Wisconsin this weekend, Alabama could move up to the #4 slot, which would mean the Auburn Tigers and Alabama Crimson could possibly face off with the national title on the line in Atlanta.