According to Billingsley’s conference comparison the SEC has been the leading most powerful conference in college football for 8 consecutive years (2007-2014), winning 7 consecutive National Titles in the process. But a chink in the Armour has emerged in the last two seasons. Florida State squeezed out a 34-31 win over Auburn in 2013, and last season, Alabama fell to eventual National Champion Ohio State 42-35 in the Sugar Bowl semi-final of the CFP. Coming through any Power 5 conference schedule unscathed is difficult, but near impossible in the SEC. This season, the way the schedules unfold regarding home/away conference games, Billingsley projects not only one loss, but two losses for every SEC team. The major question surrounding that potential scenario becomes…..how will the selection committee evaluate a two loss SEC team versus an undefeated or one loss team from another Power 5 conference, or the Group of 5?
No one can really answer that question, but should that scenario occur, Billingsley projects there is a good chance the mighty SEC may lose out on the playoff altogether. Ohio State and TCU are projected to go undefeated, Michigan State and Baylor are projected with one loss, both losing only to the top 2 teams. Factor in a projected one loss ACC champion (Florida State or Clemson, take your pick) and you have 5 teams right away who would most likely be ranked ahead of a two loss SEC team. And less not count out the Pac 12. A one loss team in Oregon, USC, or Arizona State is not out of the question.
Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Georgia and Tennessee are all CFP worthy…..on paper before the season starts that is. But a closer look at the schedules spell doom for all of those teams. Road games are brutal in the SEC and all of those contenders play road games with one another. Alabama plays at Georgia and Auburn. Auburn plays at LSU. Georgia plays at Tennessee and Auburn (in addition to a game at arch rival and ACC contender Georgia Tech). LSU plays at Alabama and Ole Miss. Ole Miss plays at Alabama and Auburn. Tennessee plays at Alabama. Billingsley projects Auburn to win the tiebreaker in the West and face Tennessee from the East with the two loss Tigers prevailing in Atlanta. If that scenario unfolds can Auburn, a two loss SEC Champion (the Tigers are also projected to lose at Arkansas) survive the cut and make a 4 team playoff? Unlikely says Billingsley, but it’s all pure speculation at this point. Billingsley’s pre-season rankings will be posted Saturday August 15, with the first week’s games being highlighted shortly there after. The season kicks off on Thursday September 2 with a host of games, most notably North Carolina/South Carolina in Charlotte, Michigan at Utah and TCU at Minnesota.