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College Football Playoff Rankings: The SEC Can't Get Three Teams Into New Year's Six Bowls

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It's an impossible ask.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The new College Football Playoff rankings are out, and they're pretty straightforward as far as the SEC goes. The conference is going to get precisely two teams into the New Year's Six bowls. It doesn't have even a remote chance of getting three in.

If Alabama wins the SEC Championship Game, the Crimson Tide will be in one of the two semifinal games, and Ole Miss will be in the conference's contracted spot in the Sugar Bowl. If Florida somehow pulls the upset, the Gators will get the contracted Sugar Bowl spot due to being the league champion and Alabama almost certainly will be an at-large in either the Fiesta or Peach Bowls.

The Gators are so far down in the rankings that I don't think there are enough chaos scenarios to allow an 11-2 Alabama team that just lost to them to make the semifinals. Oklahoma and the Iowa-Michigan State winner are locked in to the semifinals, leaving just two spots left. Even if both Clemson and Stanford lose their conference championship games, there would be teams like 12-1 ACC champ UNC, 12-1 Clemson, 11-1 Ohio State, 12-1 Iowa/11-2 Michigan State, and 10-2 Notre Dame in the running for the remaining semifinal spots. All of this is so unlikely that I'm not going to run down the resumes, but suffice to say, 11-2 Alabama would have plenty of competition for a semifinal spot. I can't say for certain that 11-2 Bama won't be in the semifinals, but I think it's unlikely to get there.

What is certain is that Ole Miss won't go to a New Year's Six bowl if the Gators win in Atlanta to give the conference a third team in. Think of it this way.

There are 12 New Year's Six bowl spots, so the worst possible rank for an at-large team in any given year is No. 12. Every team below that worst at-large ranking threshold that gets a spot contractually moves the threshold upwards.

The highest ranked conference champion of the Group of Five non-power leagues always gets a spot, and this year, whoever that team is will come from outside the top 12. That fact moves the worst at-large ranking threshold up to No. 11.

The Rebels are at No. 13 right now. Two teams currently ahead of them could fall behind them by losing: No. 10 UNC (to No. 1 Clemson, a real possibility) and No. 12 Baylor (to 4-7 Texas, less real of a possibility). However, I think an 11-2 SEC champ Florida would pass up the Rebels for a variety of reasons: one fewer loss, the head-to-head win, the conference championship bonus that the committee gives, and a win over Bama to match up with Ole Miss's headlining win over the Tide.

Even if the Rebels managed to stay ahead of Florida and get the No. 11 spot, the Gators would have a contracted spot in the Sugar Bowl while also being below the worst at-large ranking threshold. That fact would move the threshold up from No. 11 to No. 10. And if 9-3 Ole Miss somehow passed up 10-2 TCU to become No. 10, the Baylor loss would mean Oklahoma State would have the Big 12's contracted spot in the Sugar Bowl while also being below the threshold. That fact would move the threshold up again from No. 10 to No. 9. At this point, Ole Miss would need to jump over 10-2 FSU as well in order to get an at-large spot.

Long story short, the Rebels would have to hope for UNC and Baylor to lose and they'd have to somehow leapfrog over both TCU and FSU despite those teams having one fewer loss and no shot to lose because their seasons are done. The SEC won't get three teams into New Year's Six bowls like it did last year. It's going to have to settle for two.