Grantland: Could SEC be shut out of the playoff?

For years the SEC -- and the SEC West in particular -- boasted about how tough it was to survive the week-in, week-out grind the division and the conference puts its teams through during league play.

The variety of champions from the SEC lent a measure of validation to claims of superiority but last year's postseason performance -- both in the College Football Playoff where Alabama lost to Ohio State and during bowl season where the SEC West took it on the chin -- raised questions about college football's resident bully and how tough it really is.

That said, as Grantland's Matt Hinton writes, could this season -- where it seems difficult to identify a clear-cut favorite in the SEC West -- actually be the toughest gauntlet in recent memory for the division's seven teams? And if so, could it adversely affect the SEC's chances of getting a team into the 2015 College Football Playoff?