We are entering the home stretch of the college football season. One by one, the undefeated teams will fall over the next few weeks leaving likely only one or two by season’s end. This is important because it means that teams in the better conferences with one loss still have their destiny in their own hands. There are currently 12 undefeated teams in the AP Top 25. Appalachian State and SMU are unlikely to make the playoff even if they win out so that brings the number of likely undefeated playoff contenders to ten. Four of those are in the Big Ten conference and only one of them can emerge from the conference title game undefeated and even that is not a guarantee. That reduces the number to six. Two are from the Big 12 and only one can emerge undefeated because they also have a conference title game. The number drops to five. The SEC also has two remaining undefeated teams and they play each other in November so the number of possible undefeated teams with playoff chances goes to four. It is pretty much a long shot for Boise State to make the playoff as well, so now even if Clemson, the Big Ten champion and the SEC champion all win out, there would almost certainly be at least a single one-loss team in the playoff. I lay all of this out so fans of teams with one-loss understand that their team is not necessarily out of the playoff. However, if your team has a loss, rest assure another loss would remove them from playoff contention. An undefeated Boise State would likely get in over any two-loss team even a conference champion. All one-loss teams must win out to have any real chance of making the playoff.
Which brings me back to the SEC. Florida, Georgia and Auburn all suffered their first loss of the season over the last two weeks of play. All three have some difficult games ahead. Any of the three would be in the playoff if they won out and ended up a one-loss SEC champion. This is important because it means all those fans are still hanging on every play of every remaining game with national title hopes hanging in the balance. This is what makes college football so wonderful. Upcoming games between Florida-Georgia and Georgia-Auburn mean at least one of those three will be eliminated during the regular season and possibly two. And Auburn still faces both LSU and Alabama during the regular season. Florida and Georgia each have Missouri who is undefeated so far in SEC play after a baffling loss to Wyoming to begin the season. Missouri is facing a post-season ban and cannot play in the SEC Championship Game, but history shows that makes a lot of teams even that much more dangerous. They are literally playing with nothing important to lose.
Both Florida and Georgia are favored this Saturday against South Carolina and Kentucky respectively. If both teams take care of business as expected, it sets up a massive showdown the first Saturday in November for the SEC East. Win both of those games and you have a very real chance of playing in Atlanta for a spot in the college football playoff. What more could you ask of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party? Most Georgia fans came into the season pretty confident of a victory over Florida but an inexplicable loss to South Carolina has shaken that faith somewhat. Likewise, Florida fans watched their now injury plagued defense get push around by LSU. Neither fan base will go into the game in Jacksonville overly confident.
And that is what this game is supposed to be. With both programs alternating though tough times the last couple of decades, the Cocktail Party had lost some of its luster and was seldom a scenario where both teams had great hopes on the line. Now, the game is once again the battle for the SEC East and a shot at bigger things. Of course, each team must take care of business Saturday if the Jacksonville game is to have such lofty implications. Then both teams get a bye week to rest up, heal up and prepare for the contest. South Carolina has renewed confidence after knocking off Georgia as long as they did not celebrate the huge upset too far into the week. Kentucky came into the season off a 10-win 2018 campaign and sporting high hopes for 2019. A win over Georgia is the only hope of any greatness in 2019 for the Wildcats. That said, I believe both the Gators and the Bulldogs will win Saturday setting up the showdown at the border. Fans of both teams should be pulling hard for their hated rivals this week because a pair of wins would mean pure magic on November 2nd. So, Go Gators, and as hard as this is to say, Go Dawgs (for one week only). Because we all want to go to bed on November 1st almost sick with the anticipation. Have I ever mentioned how much I love college football?