SEC bowl projections after Week 7: Another major shakeup
Gator fans, we know you won’t like this.
Florida is flying high after beating Georgia on Saturday, and rightly so. Dan Mullen’s team ended a 3-game skid against the archrival Bulldogs and can just about punch its ticket to the SEC Championship Game.
So why isn’t UF projected to the College Football Playoff here?
Blame Notre Dame. And Alabama.
Notre Dame’s huge overtime win over No. 1 Clemson on Saturday shook up the national title race and the entire bowl landscape.
The Fighting Irish are still unbeaten and are absolutely a College Football Playoff team if the season ended today. But the season doesn’t end today. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence should return healthy at some point after missing 2 games, including the Notre Dame loss, after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. But the Tigers nearly won anyway with a freshman backup quarterback, in South Bend.
The thought here is that Clemson wins a rematch, with Lawrence, in the ACC title game. That would still leave Notre Dame with just 1 loss. Meanwhile, 1-loss Florida, if the projections hold up, will have to face currently undefeated Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.
So this seems like a good spot for our reminder that these projections are based on where teams will finish after conference championship games, not where they are now. If UF loses to Bama and Clemson gets revenge on Notre Dame, there will in all likelihood be 2 ACC teams in the CFP semifinals.
That leaves just the Crimson Tide to represent the SEC in the Playoff.
Also, Clemson’s loss means Alabama is our new projected No. 1 seed, which means the Crimson Tide would get dibs on which semifinal they go to. So that’s why Bama is now projected for the Sugar Bowl (it’s a pretty safe guess that New Orleans would be the choice instead of the Rose Bowl).
Our projections still have 4 SEC teams in the New Year’s Day 6 games, but Georgia has run out of margin of error to make a major bowl. And if both Cincinnati and BYU remain undefeated, it’s possible to imagine a scenario where both non-Power 5 teams reach the NYD6, which could well freeze the SEC out of having a 4th team make it. For now, we still have UGA in the NYD6.
Now let’s look at this week’s projections: