Three SEC teams fit national championship criteria for 2014


Does the College Football Playoff enhance the SEC’s opportunity to become more dominant? Yes and no. Former Auburn center Cole Cubelic warns that no SEC teams could hold a spot in the playoff.

Trusted college football source Phil Steele has built his life around the game and has studied championship criteria, and he has unveiled his 15 teams that fit the championship criteria for 2014. Just three SEC teams make up the list of 15, after the conference made up six of his top 14 last season:

  • Alabama
  • Baylor
  • Clemson
  • Florida State
  • Iowa
  • Kansas State
  • Louisville
  • LSU
  • Michigan State
  • Ohio State
  • Oklahoma
  • Ole Miss
  • Stanford
  • USC
  • Wisconsin

You can read more about his data compilation and numbers-driven approach here.

Is anyone surprised that Ole Miss is the third SEC team to make the list? This Rebels’ roster is loaded, and that’s part of the approach Steele takes. The defense should be very good, and the offense just needs to take a big step forward. However, I am surprised defending SEC champion Auburn isn’t even included in the 15.

It is also interesting though that no SEC East teams fit the criteria. Not Georgia. Not South Carolina. The Bulldogs and Gamecocks enter as the two favorites, and both are certainly talented enough to make championship runs, although getting through Atlanta will be tough, as the Western Division has won the last five SEC Championships.



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  • I think if any SEC team even makes it to the playoffs, it’ll be LSU

  • Not surprised…lots of big questions in the SEC especially the east.
    South Carolina without Coonor Shaw, who was the heart of the team and replacing the Dline
    UGA if you think you have an idea of what uga will do on D you’re lying to yourself. Also Oline and recivers are a ?
    Florida-? that it’s whole team just ? could win 10 could win 4 wouldn’t be surprised either way
    LSU-major question mark at qb and their secondary sucked last year. Who knows if they got better.
    Bama-see LSU, same questions.

    • Really so you leave out the SEC East defending champs? Mizzou is still loaded

      • loaded? no Beckham, Washington, Lucas, Franklin on offense, and no Sam, Gaines, and Golden defensively

        • Franklin is no loss. Ever heard of Maty Mauk? Oh and Marcus Golden is a junior. Mizzou has always been loaded at WR. I thought these SEC fans knew their stuff. Lol guess not.

      • Mizzou lost what 15 STARTERS? They are staring down the barrel of 0-8 again.

        • You are gonna be surprised when we make the playoffs loser. Hahaha

        • Mizzou fans think that just because they had one good year they are going to be good every year. This is the SEC and Mizzou isn’t Bama or LSU. Maty Mauk really wasn’t that impressive last year. He had a completion % of 51%. That is actually pretty bad and he is losing a lot of production at WR and Mizzou isn’t going to be able to replace most of that his season. Mizzou benefited from the East being way down last season. I figure Mizzou should win 8 games just because their schedule is pretty easy and their OOC games are all cupcakes.

    • Which LSU game did you watch last year to determine that the secondary sucked? UGA on the road? I guess that’s about the only one I could even image you could be remembering. LSU will have the best pass defense in the SEC and possibly the country with such a down QB class.

      • I don’t think they sucked last year, but Bo Wallace threw for 346 yds. on them last year… there’s that game where they were burned time after time last year. Hey, they probably will be very good this year, but I don’t know that I’d be making any grandiose statements about how LSU’s secondary will be the best in the nation. That’s pretty bold, but whatever…..

      • Do you truly believe that LSU will have the best secondary in the SEC? Ole Miss’s secondary will be loaded, have depth, and also be fairly young. Down quarterback class? Does that mean your denying the fact that Bo Wallace and Nick Marshall could be a few of the best quarterbacks in the nation behind Winston and maybe a few other newcomers? It’s not like Bo is only 3,700 yards away from passing the great Eli Manning in career passing yardage. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure LSU’s secondary won’t be to bad. I’m just saying before you go off saying the stuff you just did, you should check other SEC teams roster.

    • UGA has many returning receivers including Justin Scott Wesley and Malcolm Mitchell. They are stacked at receiver. O line shouldn’t be terrible since Hutson Mason has proven he can run out of the pocket if need be and Houston will be back as his natural spot in the O line. There is the question of the Defense, and that all in the hands of Jeremy Pruitt. With so many DBs now gone, it’ll be a true test on how good of a defensive coordinator and DB coach Pruitt really is. Teams like LSU, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M have the ability to be great teams with what was advertised through recruiting (Texas A&M has a new star freshman on the list), but no one can really say anything about them until they have been tested in a game or two. I think the problem with why Auburn and Florida don’t have a chance is the strength of schedule. Florida again will be fortunate to go to a bowl, and I think Muschamp might loose his job.

  • UGA receivers are a question? Seriously? Chris Conley, Malcolm Mitchell, Reggie Davis, Justin Scott-Wesley, Jonathan Rumph, Jay Rome, and Todd Gurley has great hands… I give you question mark on defense.

    • I’m with you Mdlee5555, receivers are plentiful at UGA. I’m not even that worried about the O-line. I have full confidence in the offense, the defense is a little fuzzy though. I am putting my faith in Pruitt though with seeing what he has done in the past.

      • the receivers are great, but whos throwing to them? but there is still enough there offensively to expect points galore. i see UGA getting in lots of shootouts this year

        • One issue Richt has never had during his tenure at UGA is fielding a good QB, many times they are great. QB will never be an issue at UGA while Richt is there. What worries me as an AU grad are all the teams on the list that we play..including KSU in Manhattan.

        • As an Auburn grad, the only thing that should “worry” you about UGA is when you’ll get the next DB turned QB dismissal from UGA. So far though, your track record is excellent on picking up other team’s good players…..

    • Conley is avg. at best and Malcolm Mitchell is coming off an ACL…he could be great or he could need 1/2 a year or full season before he’s right. No one knows, won’t know until the season starts.

  • I’d say the biggest surprise teams on the list are Kansas state Iowa and USC.

    • Ummm, let’s not kid ourselves. Our beloved Ole Miss being on there is a surprise. I understand that with the roster we now have, expectations are increasing, but let’s not get all crazy here…..yet. All his article (Phil Steele) did was use past championship game participant’s stats to indicate that team “potentially” can be very good. The fact that Ole Miss fell into those parameters is very promising, but, at the same time, means nothing. Fun to argue about, but we’ll see come the fall…..

  • Very interesting list, especially without any SEC East teams in there. I can’t wait to see just how accurate Phil Steele is in the long run.

  • Biggest surprise on this list is Clemson. They won’t beat FSU or South Carolina… period.

  • Clemson vs
    UGA week 1 in Athens.. USC vs UGA week 3 in Columbia.

  • Hmm. I’m not 100% certain of my school’s chances (UA) this year, especially with a couple of positions not exactly where there need to be (see qb, db, ol in particular). I’ve been Crimson since ’87, and I always will be, just looking at things realistically. I need to see this team play a bit…

  • I am surprised that Auburn isn’t on this list just considering what they return and they were so close to winning the national championship last season. As an Ole Miss fan I’m not that surprised to see Ole Miss on this list because they do return most of their team and pretty much all of the defense. They finally have quality depth and talent which should make a big difference. I’m not saying Ole Miss is going to win the SEC or anything, but if they do, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise just because they do have enough talent and experience on this team to do it. The defense is just going to be nasty and if Wallace is finally healthy and makes the improvements we think he is making, then the offense is going to be pretty scary also.

  • Let us remember the BCS, SEC wins 9 of 16 and 7 of the last 8, but the SEC West wins the last 5 SEC Championships and Florida wins 2. So really the domination is the SEC West and Florida. So does that mean that those 8 teams should go off and make the Power 1 Conference? The SEC is only fun to watch if there are other teams and conferences to play against. The FBS must be totally Reorganized. There is a Perfect Playoff Plan for a better Major College Football Division.

  • Enjoy the lofty predictions and fan fare while it lasts Rebel fans. Yall got a nice roster and all, but can Hugh Freeze really coach? Not so sure bout that yet…. Or Bo Wallace as a leader. I saw an unmotivated and uncohesive team when we played yall last year. To me, this points to the Head Coach. I personally think Freeze is better at recruiting than at strategy. I will be happy if yall finally win something, so yall chumps will STFU on these blogs. Oh, least I forget– Mizzou fans DO NOT want a narrative about the glorious SEC from ANY Rebel fan. Yall should try beating us before you offer your view of how tough the league is. You guys are the only team in the SEC that we have consistently whooped, whether in Big12 or the SEC in the past 10 years or so. So duh — your points are Mute Mr Army Guy 007.

    • I’m ashamed to admit I’m from Missouri after that pathetic trolling post by Mr missu all day. Good Grief!! … You just pissed that your little ole team didn’t make the grade on Phil’s list. You benefitted from teams having injuries to win the games you did last year. You should readjust your overblown head … you don’t get to sit at the Grown ups table in the SEC .until you have PROVEN with consistency you can play with the big boys.

      Now go back to your barn and do your chest thumping for those cows and chickens … “show me” boy.

      Rebels got talent a solid coach and without injuries would whip you mules all day every day. HOTTY TODDY!

      • Uh…hey man. psssst…com’ere…remember last year when Mizzou won their division and played for a conference championship?

        Remember when Ole Mrs Did that too? Yeah me neither….

        If I’m not mistaken, Ole Mrs. doesn’t even have a place set at the grown up table. But you can talk up your coach and whatnot all you want. Everybody knows your fans are a little off anyway, so I guess you’re entitled to a little stupidity.

      • I’m not sure if you think you’re talking to a Missou guy or a State guy, but if I recall your “talent” and “solid coach” didn’t whip either one of those teams last year.

        I think your fans need a little more time at the kiddy table.

  • So Ole Miss has never had the criteria to be National Champs in our lifetime, nor have they even clinched the West to play for the conference championship…….but somehow they have a chance this year? Uh….pardon me…..


    k..thanx bye.

  • The only reason Oklahoma is on the list is that they beat Alabama last January when Bama was a low point after losing to Auburn and not going to the NC. Oklahoma is ALWAYS overrated and won’t be in the top 10 at the end of the season.

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