Matt Hinton made a good point yesterday. With the seasons Ohio State and Oklahoma are turning in, the odds that the SEC puts two teams in the CFP are declining every week.
The Sooners will also be heavy favorites in every remaining game, beginning with this weekend’s rivalry tilt against Texas. If not the Longhorns, who in the Big 12 is going to beat them? Ditto Ohio State, which boasts arguably an even more improved D than Oklahoma’s and the lopsided scoring margin (+40.5 points per game, best in the nation) to go with it. Already the Buckeyes have improved from a 0.7 percent chance of running the table in the preseason, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index, to a 40.1 percent chance after 6 games. That’s second only to Clemson’s 60 percent, despite the fact that OSU’s 3 toughest games all lie ahead.
Partly that’s due to those two looking better than expected in the preseason, but partly it’s due to the rest of their respective conferences looking to put up less resistance than was expected.
Know who’s living up to preseason expectations? Yep.
The only place where the thinning of the herd is actually certain is, as ever, in the SEC.
With Florida’s 24-13 win over Auburn, all 4 of the SEC outfits that began the season in the top 10 (Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Florida) remain in the top 10, with a 21-0 record overall and a 3-0 mark against other top 10 opponents. Add Auburn to that group — the Tigers still control their fate, for what it’s worth — and not only does the conference boast 5 plausible Playoff contenders, nearly as many as the other major conferences combined; those 5 contenders still have to go head-to-head 6 more times in the regular season, not including the winner-take-all epic that awaits the survivors in Atlanta.
Gators-Tigers was only the first in what’s shaping up as a weekly installment of The Eliminator:
- Oct. 12: Florida at LSU
- Oct. 26: Auburn at LSU
- Nov. 2: Georgia vs. Florida
- Nov. 9: LSU at Alabama
- Nov. 16: Georgia at Auburn
- Nov. 30: Alabama at Auburn
- Dec. 7: SEC Championship Game
It is what it is. We’d best hope this is the season Georgia gets over the Alabama hump.