What I think Saturday's SEC Championship thriller did for Georgia's Playoff chances
ATLANTA — Yes.
Georgia is one of the best 4 teams in the country. What I witnessed for 60 minutes on Saturday in Atlanta told me that. Going toe to toe with Alabama like that and nearly beating the team that posted the most dominant regular season we’ve ever seen told me that much. Regardless of the fact that the Dawgs blew another 2-possession lead in the second half against Nick Saban’s squad, Georgia is still one of the 4 best teams in the country, in my opinion.
So is Georgia one of the best 4 teams in the country, Alabama?
“Of course,” Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses said on SEC Network’s postgame show.
I agree. In fact, I couldn’t agree more.
But is Georgia going to make the Playoff? No.
I stand by the thing I said coming into this game, and that was that Georgia will not get into the Playoff unless it won Saturday. Why? I was and am convinced that the selection committee isn’t going to run it back. Forcing Alabama to play Georgia again for the right to go to a national championship wouldn’t be fair to the No. 1 overall seed.
The Dawgs had their chance, and they couldn’t quite maximize it.
Is that fair? No, but everything we’ve seen from the selection committee not only this year, but in past years suggests that will be the case.
That’s my long-winded way of saying I think Oklahoma makes the Playoff and Georgia is on the outside looking in this time. The Sooners might not be a better team than the Dawgs, but they have 2 things that will work in their favor Sunday.
For starters, we’ve yet to see a 1-loss Power 5 conference champ not make the field. Say what you want about the Big 12 compared to the SEC, but the conference hasn’t been so weak this year that the Sooners, who have played 11 Power 5 teams this year, should be left out of the Playoff. (Granted, we will see history this year if Ohio State wins the Big Ten Championship Game, because the Sooners and Buckeyes will both be 1-loss P5 champs.)
And along those same lines, we’ve yet to see a 2-loss team make the field. Something tells me that the selection committee isn’t going to make a non-Power 5 conference champ the first. Maybe the opposition would be too strong, or maybe it’s just that the selection committee would just see it as an easier move to make by putting in Oklahoma.
Is that fair? Not necessarily. But is that reality? Probably.
This would be a different scenario if we were talking about an undefeated Georgia team coming into this game. If both were unbeaten, they would’ve simply been playing for Playoff seeds Saturday.
That wasn’t the case.
That’s what’s going to make Saturday that much more painful for Georgia. The Dawgs will probably watch Oklahoma struggle to slow down Alabama, which Georgia did for the better part of that game. Hindsight will suggest that Georgia was the better team. It’ll be “see, I told you the Dawgs deserved the Playoff spot.”
I can’t blame them. If I were a Georgia fan, I’d be frustrated with that. Shoot, it’ll be even more frustrating if Alabama rolls — had to — through the Playoff en route to another national championship. Perhaps we’ll look back and say that Georgia was the second best team in the country.
Should the selection committee thing long and hard about this decision? Absolutely. I bet there are some spirited debates in that room about Oklahoma’s résumé compared to Georgia’s. They’ll show that the Sooners have wins against 3 current Top-25 teams away from home and the Dawgs have 4.
But I just can’t shake the feeling that the selection committee will give Oklahoma the benefit of the doubt for avenging its lone loss of the year, and that repeating a matchup we just saw isn’t something they want to do (we’ve never seen a regular season repeat matchup in the Playoff semifinals).
Sorry, Georgia. The Dawgs had their shot Saturday.
The Playoff hopes came to an end when Jake Fromm’s Hail Mary hit the ground.