SEC Potential Playoff Scenarios Take Shape

by Mark Everett Kelly | Nov 24, 2020 | College Football | 0 comments

The end of 2020 cannot arrive soon enough for this lowly sportswriter. If our nation’s division isn’t already toxic, incessant rambling concerning the College Football Playoff selections seems unavoidable.

Yes, I understand the comparison is drastically overblown. However, fans of the Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12, and Big 12 view the SEC as “the favorite child” of the CFB Playoff committee.

As we enter December next week, we find ourselves just one month from the CFB Playoffs. Thanks to COVID delays, Alabama and Texas A&M currently will fail to complete a full 10-game conference schedule.

Kentucky#6 Florida12:00 PM
VanderbiltMissouri12:00 PM
#22 Auburn#1 Alabama3:30 PM
Mississippi StateOle Miss4:00 PM
LSU#5 Texas A&M7:00 PM
#13 GeorgiaSouth Carolina7:30 PM

Florida and LSU are using the December 12 makeup date to play their postponed October 17th meeting. This denies Alabama the opportunity to reschedule their November 14th visit to Baton Rouge. 

The Crimson Tide’s only options would be scheduling South Carolina or Vanderbilt (the only remaining SEC teams Alabama hasn’t played – obviously minus LSU) on December 12. The Gamecocks are on target to complete their 10-game schedule, making a possible rescheduled meeting with Alabama for December 12 unlikely. That leaves Vanderbilt as the only potential opponent without the Crimson Tide scheduling another SEC team twice.

The conference initially rescheduled Vanderbilt-Missouri for December 12 (making up their October 17 matchup), denying the opportunity. This Saturday, Vanderbilt’s schedule initially had them hosing Tennesee, while Arkansas traveled to Missouri. However, the SEC released this press release on Monday. 

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (November 23, 2020) – The Arkansas at Missouri football game of November 28 has been postponed, resulting in rescheduling of games that include Vanderbilt playing at Missouri on November 28 and the postponement of the Tennessee at Vanderbilt game originally scheduled for November 28.

The Arkansas at Missouri football game of November 28 has been postponed due to combination of positive tests, contact tracing and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the Arkansas football program, consistent with Southeastern Conference COVID-19 management requirements.

The Vanderbilt at Missouri game is a rescheduling of a game postponed on October 17. The game will be played at Noon ET on Saturday on the SEC Network.

The Tennessee at Vanderbilt game is postponed for the purpose of facilitating the rescheduling of the Vanderbilt at Missouri game. This rescheduling of games allows for the continued opportunity for all 14 teams to play all of its 10 games in the 2020 season.”

The conferences rescheduling of these matchups now clears Vandy’s scheduled for December 12th. Could this indicate what I am suggesting? We will see.

The Aggies can use December 19 to make up their matchup against Ole Miss, but doing so would add to the chaos that is 2020 by playing opposite the SEC Championship. However, such a scenario must occur if Texas A&M wants to separate itself from other CFB Playoff contenders.

2020 College Football Standings
Playoff Resumes
W-LW-L vs Top-25PPG Diff.YPG Diff.Total
Notre Dame8-01-020158178
Texas A&M5-11-18.3105.5113.8
Ohio State4-02-019.3146165.3


Since Alabama owns the only undefeated record in the conference, completing the season unblemished (including a victory over Florida in the SEC Championship) would give them the best resume and an automatic bid to the playoff.


If Florida finishes the season with one loss while beating Alabama in the SEC Championship, that presents an interesting equation. 

Such a scenario gives Alabama, Florida, and Texas A&M one loss, while all three teams hold advantages. Florida would hold a head-to-head edge over Alabama, Alabama would hold the head-to-head advantage over Texas A&M, and A&M would hold the tie-breaker over Florida. Such a scenario would force the CFB Playoff committee to make an impossible choice between three equallly worthy teams.

Possible Solutions?

The most obvious scenario would involve expanding the CFB Playoff to eight teams. This would allow non-power five conference teams such as Cincinnati, BYU, Coastal Carolina and Marshall, all who currently are undefeated, an opportunity to participate in the playoff. An expanded playoff format, would also allow all three aforementioned SEC teams (in the one-loss for each scenario) to qualify, in addition to teams from the Big Ten (Ohio State, Northwestern) and ACC (Notre Dame, Clemson).

Regardless, this is an intereting paralell and despite the impossible to predict outcomes, It should be exciting to witness.


Mark Everett Kelly is a former two-time Emmy Award winning writer/researchere from ESPN. Mark retired in 2008 due to the onset of long-term side effects from cancer treatment (chemotherapy, radiation and bone marrow transplant). This led to Mark’s current health problems (Crohn’s Disease. Lymphedema and Hemochromotosis). To help support Mark in his battle, click on these links (Paypal, and Patreon).

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