Showdown games may leave SEC with only one team in CFP

Published 12:14 am Monday, November 10, 2014

The Associated Press


All those showdown games on the schedule Saturday and a 20-point underdog ended up providing the biggest shake-up to the playoff race.

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For the second straight week a Southeastern Conference contender took a potentially devastating loss when No. 3 Auburn was upset 41-38 at home by a Texas A&M team that came to Jordan-Hare Stadium reeling.

The Aggies had lost three straight SEC games — one more lopsided than the next — and barely scraped by Louisiana-Monroe at home last week.

They got better against Auburn.

The Tigers fell behind big against the Aggies, and couldn’t pull off the type of improbable win that has become so common for them the last two seasons. Two fumbles involving Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall in the final 5 minutes, both in A&M territory, ended the Tigers’ comeback attempt.

Last week it was Georgia getting hammered by Florida that a put a dent in the SEC’s hopes of getting more than one team in the final four. Good luck trying to sell this as a “good loss” for Auburn. A&M lost to Mississippi State, Mississippi and Alabama by a combined 142-51 before beating ULM 21-16.

Still, don’t eliminate Auburn (7-2) just yet. The pile of one-loss teams is quickly turning into a pile of two-loss teams. The Tigers still have road games against Georgia and Alabama left to rebuild their resume. By the time the regular season is done, few teams will be able to match Auburn’s schedule for degree of difficulty. If they can get a muddle of two-loss teams atop the SEC West standings, the tiebreakers could still fall the Tigers’ way and get them a spot in the conference title game.

But for now, slot Auburn into the “needs help” category of playoff contenders.

Alabama won’t need any help. The Tide escaped Death Valley with a 20-13 overtime win against LSU to set up a showdown with No. 1 Mississippi State next week.