cmcgill

Why the Loser of the SEC Championship Should be in the College Football Playoff Over Alabama

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Three teams, not two, will have a lot riding on the outcome of the SEC Championship Game this Friday night. As the Tennessee Volunteers and LSU Fighting Tigers prepare to square off in Atlanta for a playoff berth, the defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide will sit at home and hope for a shot at the playoffs as well. The eighth-ranked Tide capped off 10-2 regular season with a last second field goal to overcome the Auburn Tigers on Saturday, and many believe the win cemented the Tide’s spot in the playoffs. However, some feel the Tide shouldn’t be in over either LSU or Tennessee no matter the result in Atlanta.

 

Let’s look at the games Alabama has won this season:

UAB (4-8)

@ Georgia Tech (5-7)

@ Rutgers (8-4)

Charlotte (3-9)

Arkansas (8-4)

Texas A&M (3-9)

@ South Carolina (4-8)

@ Ole Miss (2-10)

Mississippi State (9-3)

@ Auburn (6-6)

 

And the games Alabama lost this season:

Maryland (6-6)

@ LSU (10-2)

 

The best team Alabama has beaten all season is at home against Mississippi State. Despite being defending national champions the Tide have face some criticism for their weak schedule, as they have beaten only three teams with winning records.  

 

Still, many feel the above resume would be superior to both SEC championship contenders if they were to lose, so let’s examine each team independently.

 

:lsu: The LSU Tigers

 

The LSU Tigers started off with a surprising 9-0 record to begin the season, but are the underdogs headed into Atlanta due a recent skid seeing the Tigers lose two of their last three games of the season. The team has struggled in recent weeks but the talented defense will have the Tigers in the game with any team in the country.

 

Let’s look at the games LSU has won this season:

@ Tulane (4-8)

@ Missouri (7-5)

Army (1-11)

Alabama (10-2)

@ Akron (5-7)

@ Auburn (6-6)

@ Mississippi State (9-3)

@ Ole Miss (2-10)

Texas A&M (3-9)

Fresno State (6-6)

 

And the games LSU will have lost this season with a loss in the SEC Championship:

@ Utah (6-6)

Arkansas (8-4)

Tennessee (12-1) – SEC Championship

 

The key difference most people will focus on is the number of losses with LSU having three and Alabama with two. However, ranking the Tigers behind the Tide for playing in the SEC championship only serves to cheapen the value of a conference title. Instead, the only fair way to evaluate the two teams is by examining their regular seasons.

 

Now, both teams out of conference records are 3-1 with a loss to a 6-6 team and no impressive wins, so we will skip over the OOC results. As both teams are in the SEC West their schedules and results are mostly the same, but a few key differences stand out.

 

First, while neither South Carolina nor Missouri were exceptional this season, LSU’s win over a traditionally strong Missouri is more impressive than Alabama’s win over a struggling South Carolina team.

 

Next, the two teams had differing results at home against the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Tigers lost to a revitalized Arkansas team after new head coach SlinkyJr took over only weeks before. Alabama defeated the Razorbacks earlier in the season, but did so while the team was undergoing coaching turmoil. One of the most experienced head coaches in the country brought stability to an already talented team in Fayetteville and pulled off an upset with a 46-yard field goal as time expired. If that same Arkansas team had been the one to travel to Tuscaloosa in week 9 the results may have been different. So while the loss to Arkansas is a reasonable blemish on the Tigers’ record, the Tigers’ loss should not prevent them from getting in over Alabama.

 

If the Tigers do lose on Friday, they will suffer their third loss of the season, possibly the most often cited reason for placing the Tide above the Tigers in the playoffs. However, the Tigers adding an additional challenging game, while the Tide sit at home for failing to win their own division should not favor the Alabama squad.

 

Finally, the most important difference between the two teams is the result of the low scoring affair in Baton Rouge earlier in the season. The Tigers came out on top after shutting down the Tide offense for most of the night. However, because Alabama’s loss is seen as a more quality loss than LSU’s to Arkansas, many people are using the game the Tigers won as justification for the Tide being in the playoffs over the Tigers. The two teams met and decided who the better team was on the field, but the Tigers may end up being the ones left out. Ironically, winning that game may play a key role in leaving the Tigers out of the playoff.  

 

Essentially, the common lines of reasoning putting the Tide in over the Tigers come down to LSU being punished for making the SEC championship and beating Alabama during the regular season.

 

If the roles were reversed would LSU have a chance at leapfrogging Alabama despite not winning their own division?

 

:vols: The Tennessee Volunteers

 

Tennessee has been one of the favorites for the National Championship all season. The amount of talent on the roster and a highly regarded coach in SageBow have made for a lethal combination all season. However, despite a fantastic season, the Volunteers are facing what many call a must-win game to reach the playoffs.

 

Let’s look at the games Tennessee has won this season:

Memphis (1-11)

Arizona (6-6)

USF (8-4)

Georgia (7-5)

Kentucky (3-9)

Air Force (10-2)

@ North Carolina (4-8)

@ Missouri (7-5)

Florida (3-9)

@ South Carolina (4-8)

@ Vanderbilt (9-3)

 

And the games Tennessee will have lost this season with a loss in the SEC Championship:

@ Auburn (6-6)

LSU (11-2) – SEC Championship

 

Again it should be important to note that playing an extra game due to winning your division should not hurt a team. Even still, the Volunteers should be in over the Tide.

 

Since the two teams aren’t in the same division their schedules are more distinct than LSU and Alabama’s. First, in non-conference games, the Volunteers went undefeated and played some much stiffer competition than the Tide. Tennessee played the only currently ranked team in either’s non-conference schedule and beat the 10-2 Air Force Falcons. While, the Tide lost to a 6-6 Maryland team. Neither non-conference is exceptionally notable otherwise

 

Next, while both beat the Gamecocks of South Carolina, The Volunteers lost to an Auburn team that Alabama beat on a last second field goal. While this may seem damning the Auburn Tigers switched QBs the week of the Tennessee game leading to some difficulty in defensive game planning against an unknown threat. While the loss against the common opponent of the Tide does work against the Volunteers, the impact is insignificant.

 

Finally, even counting the loss to LSU the Volunteers would have as many losses as the Tide, but they also have beaten more teams, and those teams have been on average better than the teams the Tide have beaten. The average win % of the 11 teams the Tennessee would have defeated is .470 while the average win % of the 10 teams Alabama has defeated is only .433. While neither win % is great, the Volunteers would have won more games against better competition than the Tide.

 

Once again, would Tennessee have a shot at getting in over Alabama if the roles were reversed?

 

Overall, both the Tigers and the Volunteers have better resumes than the Crimson Tide. Taking away Alabama’s success in recent seasons, there is no reason to have a 10-2 Alabama team over either a 10-3 LSU or an 11-2 Tennessee.

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2 minutes ago, rabidsnowman said:

I think you have a valid point, but I also think that you would have fewer people agreeing with you were it not Alabama that stood to lose.  The hate for the Tide is very real with nearly everybody on this site, and Sim Tide has to suffer for it too.

 

 

That is probably the case but I also think randy and Alabama's history on the site has inflated their ranking a bit. They really havent beaten anyone except for Miss St and are given the benefit of the doubt.

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I came so close to blowing the whole thing up. Lost by 3 to LSU and 1 to Alabama, both games where my kicker conveniently missed a field goal. Oh well. I guess I'll have to settle for blowing out Tennessee.

vollmagnet and cmcgill like this

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Just go win your game and all will be fine for you. Why are you so concerned with what might happen if you lose? Why are you worried about Alabama? Based on all projections and rankings we have seen, I wouldn't even be the bottom at large team that you would have to pass to get in the playoffs. If you want to make this national news, why not compare all teams that have a shot at being at-large bids? After the top 4 conference winners, conference affiliation is not suppose to matter. It's not up to me who get's in the playoffs and that is fine by me. If I miss, it is my fault for losing two games. If I do get in, I am going to go make a run at another championship. The fact that you put this much work into comparing to one possible at-large team that you would compete with to get in the playoffs is a bit over the top, especially considering I probably wouldn't even be the team that kept you out. 

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1 hour ago, randye4 said:

Just go win your game and all will be fine for you. Why are you so concerned with what might happen if you lose? Why are you worried about Alabama? Based on all projections and rankings we have seen, I wouldn't even be the bottom at large team that you would have to pass to get in the playoffs. If you want to make this national news, why not compare all teams that have a shot at being at-large bids? After the top 4 conference winners, conference affiliation is not suppose to matter. It's not up to me who get's in the playoffs and that is fine by me. If I miss, it is my fault for losing two games. If I do get in, I am going to go make a run at another championship. The fact that you put this much work into comparing to one possible at-large team that you would compete with to get in the playoffs is a bit over the top, especially considering I probably wouldn't even be the team that kept you out. 

 

If both LSU and bama are left out that is what it is, but the prevalence of bama over the SEC championship loser is faulty logic IMO. I wrote the piece to be self serving intentionally. Alabama missing the playoffs is good for me even if LSU doesn't make it. If the article keeps bama from getting in over LSU or Tennessee or if no one but the SEC championship winner gets in that is all better for me than the current status quo.

 

As for not comparing all the possible contenders that came from the original intent of the article being "the case for three SEC teams in the playoff" but for a number of reasons I changed my mind. Not the least of which is having played Bama and won they are the team I have the best argument for being in over.

 

I did almost message you to have you write a counter argument and I would still love to see it, but I decided this is what is best for me. Frankly, writing this article this way is the best thing I can do for my team, and I have to do what I think is best.

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This is a slippery slope. I had a much tougher OOC schedule than either of you and the 3 teams I lost to are better than 5 of the 6 teams that you guys lost to, so clearly I deserve the #8 playoff spot.

cmcgill likes this

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