Who SEC fans should root against: Championship week
SEC ROOTING GUIDE
In which we tell you which teams you should root against in the upcoming week.
Let’s be real here: If you’re rooting for the SEC to win a national title this season, the biggest team you’re “rooting against” this weekend is Florida.
As unlikely as it may seem, a Gators upset all but ensures the SEC will not be represented in the College Football Playoff.
Still, if the SEC title game goes chalk, there won’t be too much drama on Saturday. the winner of the Big Ten title game will get a bid almost automatically. Perhaps the North Carolina Tar Heels can upset Clemson. Then there may be Stanford-Ohio State drama.
Either way, this season feels like an eight-team playoff would be more appropriate. Right now that would include Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State, Stanford and Notre Dame.
Here is who SEC fans should root against Saturday.
USC vs. Stanford (7:45 p.m. ET, Saturday): If Clemson loses (or Alabama), Stanford and Ohio State should be the two teams in consideration for the fourth playoff spot. The Buckeyes (11-1) are the defending national champions, loaded with first- and second-day NFL draft picks and fresh off an impressive win against Michigan. It’s possible their only loss — to Michigan State — was to a College Football Playoff team. But Stanford (10-2) could collect a potential trump card Saturday in the form of a conference championship. Four-loss USC will try to club the Cardinal into a third loss. But if Stanford wins, that team has a great shot to sit on the bubble position. Would Alabama rather play Stanford or Ohio State? Something tells me the Tide coaches and players would rather get a chance at revenge against Urban Myer’s team. SEC fans probably are more excited about seeing Alabama-Ohio State than Alabama-Stanford. So the pro-SEC lot probably will back USC here.
Michigan State vs. Iowa (8 p.m. ET, Saturday): Based on every trusted power ranking, metric and handicapper, Alabama would much rather meet the Hawkeyes in the College Football Playoff. No offense to 12-0 Iowa, and coach Kirk Ferentz, but we like the Tide and coach Nick Saban in that matchup. Michigan State is a short favorite in the Big Ten Championship. The Spartans have at least a second-round pick at quarterback, and a defense that has as good a chance as any to slow Derrick Henry.
North Carolina vs. Clemson (8 p.m. ET, Saturday): Neither of these teams should scare Alabama all that much. South Carolina (3-9) beat North Carolina (11-1) in the season opener and played Clemson (12-0) within five points to close out the schedule. Quarterbacks Marquise Williams and Deshaun Watson both would hope to be able to exploit Alabama’s defense. Still, the Tide would be favored against both these teams, but would much prefer to face a Tar Heels team that Bama should dominate up front.