Hello, Georgia. Welcome to your nightmare.
Former coach Mark Richt, honorably discharged from Athens two years ago, has led Miami to a 9-0 record and the Hurricanes could be ranked No. 2 when the new college football playoff rankings come out Tuesday night. The Bulldogs, after Saturday's horror show of a loss, 40-17 at Auburn , will plummet from No. 1 to possibly seventh in the rankings.
Richt in. Dogs out. How many buildings will burn down if that's the way it reads when the final playoff rankings come out on Dec. 3?
It was logical that the rankings would take a hit at some point, given some of the teams played each other. But nobody could have foreseen Saturday, when Nos. 1 Georgia), 3 (Notre Dame), 6 (TCU) and 9 (Washington) all lost, and No. 2 Alabama barely escaped Starkville. with a 31-24 win. (Note: Georgia destroyed Mississippi State 31-3, albeit the game was played in Athens.)
The Bulldogs will still play in the SEC championship game. If they win that game -- assuming they also defeat Kentucky and Georgia Tech in the next two weeks -- they almost certainly will be in the four.
But what Saturday's loss in Auburn did was eliminate their margin for error. Prior to Saturday, a case could be made that they could lose the SEC title game to Alabama and still make it into the playoff field as a one-loss team. Not anymore.
My projection for the top 10 in the next set of playoff rankings is as follows:
- Alabama (10-0)
- Miami (9-0)
- Clemson (9-1)
- Oklahoma (9-1)
- Wisconsin (10-0)
- Auburn (8-2)
- Georgia (9-1)
- TCU (8-2)
- Notre Dame (8-2)
- Ohio State (8-2)
The winner of the Miami-Clemson ACC championship game will make it into the playoffs (assuming neither lose their other games). Miami might have a case as a one-loss team if Clemson wins that game. (Miami has played only nine games because a hurricane forced the cancellation of its game against Arkansas State.)
But here's the question for Georgia: Would the Bulldogs have a better chance against Alabama or Auburn in the SEC championship game? Auburn has to win its final two games to get in. Both games against Louisiana-Monroe and Alabama are at home. The Tigers have won 10 straight at Jordan-Hare Stadium. So what once seemed like a foregone conclusion of the Crimson Tide winning the West isn't a certainty anymore.
Here's one view of Georgia's eventual title match-up:
• Georgia vs. Alabama: The Tide has been considered the nation's best team for most of the season. But the last two wins -- 24-10 over LSU at home and at Mississippi State -- have not come easy. Alabama also has taken some hits to its defense. At one time Georgia was projected to be at least a six-point underdog in the neutral site game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. My guess is that hasn't changed.
• Georgia vs. Auburn: A rematch against an opponent that absolutely body-slammed you three weeks earlier wouldn't seem like a good idea, and if Auburn is in this game it will be riding a five-game winning streak (including victories over Texas A&M and two No. 1's Georgia and Alabama). But think about it: What's the chance the Tigers can replicate their effort from Saturday on a neutral field? Would Georgia get dominated on the lines of scrimmage in the rematch? Would the Bulldogs run the ball any better? Would quarterback Jake Fromm play better with the crowd split (as was nearly the case at Notre Dame)?
Conclusion: Personally, I think the Bulldogs would have a better chance against Auburn. But it's close. There's a poll above for you to weigh in.
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