Georgia Football: Categorizing Threats to the Dawgs’ Playoff Hopes
While I never went so far as to project a loss in either of Georgia’s two Todd Gurley-less trips to two of America’s more anonymous states, I am <insert giddy Madlib here> that the Dawgs are going into the bye and November with a stranglehold on the SEC East. Ranked #9 in both polls, Georgia finds itself in very good position to make the first College Football Playoff assuming they win out. With extremely winnable games against Florida, Kentucky, Charleston Southern, and Georgia Tech, one pins his hopes on beating Auburn and whomever emerges from the SEC West nuclear holocaust.
The Bulldogs are in better shape than you think for the playoff. According to ESPN’s Playoff Predictor Index, the Dawgs are #4 behind Auburn, Alabama, and Ole Miss with a 24% chance of being included in the final four. Even a loss to Auburn followed by a win in Atlanta puts the Dawgs in incredible shape. Let’s analyze what stands in their way.
The SEC West
Unless the SEC Champion (i.e. the team who beats Georgia) is the West’s representative, the toughest division in college football will not have more than one team in the playoff. Let’s assume one gets in. That eliminates three from the group of Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alabama, and Auburn. This’ll be settled on the field (with current AP rankings).
1) Mississippi State: 11/15 @ Alabama, 11/29 @ Ole Miss
3) Ole Miss: 11/1 vs. Auburn, 11/29 vs. MSU (and a visit to LSU for Gameday this weekend)
4) Alabama: 11/15 vs. Mississippi State, 11/29 vs. Auburn
5) Auburn: 11/1 @ Ole Miss, 11/29 @ Alabama (and @ Georgia on 11/15)
One is inclined to think that Ole Miss and Alabama have the clearest paths to the SEC West championship. Were they both to win out, Ole Miss would go to Atlanta and (fairly or unfairly) Alabama would be a CFP lock.
I mean, after beating Notre Dame they’re essentially in. They’ve played the three toughest games on their schedule, although an October 30 trip to Louisville looms as a trickier game than pundits will allow.
A one-loss Florida State team, at this point, would be at a disadvantage against a Michigan State team whose one loss was to much better competition.
(LOL at referring to Notre Dame as a power). Georgia fans need to become fans of whoever is matched up against the Irish, Sparty, and Oregon from here on out.
Oregon: Currently sixth in the AP, the PPI has the Ducks at 23.2% to get in, ranking only behind the SEC teams, Florida State, and Ohio State? Looking at the schedule, Stanford doesn’t seem to have the firepower to win in Autzen, and a road trip to #19 Utah doesn’t quite incite fear. An injury to Marcus Mariota or a slip-up in the Pac-12 championship eliminates UO.
Michigan State: In my opinion the biggest threat as a one-loss team, because they play in the B1G. The PPI has them at 17.5% to get in, because apparently it thinks Ohio State is going to beat them in East Lansing on November 8th. Nobody else in that league stands a chance.
Notre Dame: A one-loss Notre Dame team gets in, and you know this. Arizona State/Northwestern/Louisville/USC, don’t allow this to happen.
And Finally, the XII
The Big XII champion comes into play for the Dawgs if, as I alluded to, we lose to Auburn and then win the SEC. A two-loss Georgia team likely wouldn’t get in in front of a one-loss XII champ.
Luckily for us, it’s not likely that we see a one-loss XII champ.
AP #10 TCU still travels to West Virginia in a must-see November 1st matchup, and hosts #11 Kansas State the next week. The fighting Bill Snyders have NO shot, as they travel to both TCU and WVU, as well as Baylor.
And what of Baylor, you ask? At #12 in the AP, they’re still the likely favorite in the XII. Their only road game is a trip to Oklahoma on November 8th, and that’s going to determine their viability as a playoff team.
So How Does This Play Out?
Thanks for asking. First of all, Georgia has to win the SEC. A second loss in Atlanta costs the Dawgs just based on timing and the committee’s efforts to avoid rematches (plus, Georgia’s inclusion would likely mean three SEC teams in the CFP– ain’t gonna happen).
Let’s rank and seed, as of today.
Locks (yanno, until they lose)
1-2) SEC West Champ, two if Alabama and Ole Miss win out (and division winner wins SEC).
3) Florida State
4) Oregon: win out and they’re in.
5) Georgia: win out, cheer for Auburn to beat either Ole Miss or Alabama, and they’ll jump Michigan State and Notre Dame (I think/the world hopes).
6) Notre Dame: a one loss Notre Dame team is in.
7) Michigan State: the first team that could actually lose a spot because of their schedule.
8) A one loss Big XII Champion.
Beyond that, a few teams for whom anonymity is still a factor are very much on the ‘outside and need some help’ looking in. Among them are both Arizona schools, Ohio State (ugh), Nebraska (haha), and…well, that’s pretty much it.
If Georgia takes care of business, the Dawgs should be in the first CFP. With 12 days to watch this thing continue to shake out, let’s hope our friends at the UGA Vault are ready to add a Final Four to the archives.
Posted on October 20, 2014, in 100 Days of SEC Dominance, ACC, Alabama, Auburn, Big 10, Big 12, Blog, Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Pac-12, SEC, The UGA Vault. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.