NCAA Football: Beware of the Auburn Tigers
Are the Auburn Tigers dark horses to make it into the College Football Playoff?
The second edition of the College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings was released on Tuesday. With just over three weeks to go until the four CFP teams are selected and the semifinal matchups are etched in stone, one team made quite a splash in the rankings.
The Auburn Tigers, who have a 7-2 record overall and a 5-1 record within the Southeastern Conference (SEC), were ranked at #10 by the committee as the highest 2-loss team. Given the committee's emphasis on strength of victory, the fact that their remaining schedule is made up of the teams ranked #1 and #2 in the country makes them a dark horse in terms of getting into the CFP.
This is an Auburn team that have not lost at their home stadium, Jordan-Hare Stadium, since Week 2 of last season, and they play the top two teams in the country at that venue over the next two-plus weeks to close out the season. They'll host the #1 Georgia Bulldogs (9-0, 6-0) this Saturday two weeks ahead of the Iron Bowl, when they will face off against the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide (9-0, 6-0). Auburn's two losses so far this season were road losses to the Clemson Tigers and LSU Tigers.
If Auburn win both of those games, they will end up tied with Alabama for the lead of the SEC West division with a 7-1 conference record, and that would send them to the SEC championship game for a neutral site rematch against Georgia, who are already guaranteed to represent the SEC East division in the game.
And if they were to end up victorious in that game, they would be 11-2 and champions of the nation's top conference, which would make it virtually impossible for the CFP selection committee not to make them one of the four CFP teams even though no 2-loss team have ever made it into the CFP before. In fact, the model of Nate Silver from FiveThirtyEight gives the Tigers an 87% chance at getting into the CFP if they end up 11-2.
If that isn't a recipe for shaking up college football over the next few weeks, I am not sure what is. The action kicks off this Saturday, November 11th at 3:30 PM Eastern Time with the highly anticipated #1 Georgia @ #10 Auburn showdown.