SEC playoff tracker: Dec. 3

What happened to the SEC this past weekend? Not only did the East get swept by the ACC (0-4 on the day), but the conference also lost a pair of playoff contenders when Georgia lost a heartbreaker to Georgia Tech and Mississippi State fell at Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. Mike Slive had to be a little nervous when Alabama was trailing Auburn midway through the third quarter.

Fortunately for the SEC, the Crimson Tide rallied back to win the Iron Bowl. They’re still the No. 1 team in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings and the top contender from the league that has produced seven of the past eight national champions.

What happens if Alabama loses this Saturday in the SEC championship game? Will Nick Saban’s team still sneak in? Does Missouri move into contention by taking down the No. 1 team in the nation and winning the conference? Or will the SEC be left out of the playoff altogether?

We’ll have to wait and see. For now, here’s a look at where Alabama and Missouri, the two remaining SEC contenders, stand heading into championship week.


Record: 11-1 (7-1 SEC)

Rank: No. 1

Next big obstacle: Saturday vs. No. 16 Missouri (in Atlanta)

Reason for optimism: The tough part is over. Alabama doesn't have to play another SEC West opponent the rest of the year. Surviving the gauntlet of LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn wasn't easy, but the Crimson Tide made it through without a loss. Now they're ranked No. 1 and one win from earning the top seed in the College Football Playoff.

Cause for concern: Can a title game feel like a trap game? If so, the SEC championship fits the bill. Alabama is a double-digit favorite over Missouri, despite the Tigers' winning the East and ranking 16th. With Mizzou's pair of spectacular defensive ends, Shane Ray and Markus Golden, Alabama's offense will be challenged. Blake Sims, fresh off a three-interception performance against Auburn, will have to make better decisions with the football -- in less time.

Whom they’ll be rooting for: Georgia Tech over Florida State.

-- Alex Scarborough


Record: 10-2 (7-1 SEC)

Rank: No. 16

Next big obstacle: Saturday vs. No. 1 Alabama (in Atlanta)

Reason for optimism: The SEC champion has played in the national championship game the past eight seasons. Missouri has to hope that by winning the SEC, arguably the nation’s toughest conference over the past decade, it would be considered one of the top four teams in college football. The chances are slim, but a win over No. 1 Alabama would be as good a win as any other playoff contender has on its resume.

Cause for concern: There just aren’t enough good wins. Missouri has yet to beat a team currently ranked in the top 25. Not a one. And losing at home to Indiana is the epitome of a bad loss in the eyes of the committee. There’s a reason the Tigers are ranked No. 16, and regardless of what happens this weekend, there’s little to no hope they climb all the way into the top four. It’s still hard to imagine a playoff with no SEC teams.

Whom they’ll be rooting for this week: Iowa State over TCU, Georgia Tech over Florida State, Wisconsin over Ohio State, Kansas State over Baylor.

-- Greg Ostendorf