I tried this last season and — thanks to Alabama — it didn't work out so well. I'm going to try it again this season — and thanks to again to Alabama — it probably won't work out so well. Nonetheless, I'm back to provide you — the eternal Southeastern Conference hater — with a step-by-step guide for rooting for an SEC-free College Football Playoff.
You should probably just print this off and stick it on your coffee table.
1. Obviously, you need to root against Alabama
Ideally, you'd like the Crimson Tide to lose twice — once at LSU on Saturday night and once at home against Auburn in the Iron Bowl to end the regular season. Perhaps more realistically, you are pulling for Alabama to drop just one of those games and hope that the team that does end up beating Nick Saban's team has only one conference loss after the final week. That way, Alabama doesn't even win its own division, much less its own conference. No team has qualified for for the College Football Playoff without winning its conference since the four-team format began two seasons ago.
2. You'll need to root against, and then for, Florida
The Gators only have one loss. If they win out, they'll get in the playoff. You'd like for them to lose to LSU in the makeup game from earlier in the season due to Hurricane Matthew. That would saddle the Gators with two losses, but still allow them to win the SEC East. From there, you want them to beat the SEC West champ in the SEC Championship Game. No two-loss team has qualified for the College Football Playoff, and this committee won't send a team that didn't win its conference ahead of a team that did.
3. You need Clemson and Washington to run the table
These two teams are unbeaten and in the driver's seat of their respective conferences. Clemson has already played the toughest two opponents it will face this season in Louisville and Florida State. All the Tigers need to do is win out, win the ACC Championship Game and they're in the College Football Playoff. One spot down.
Now we need Washington to do the same — and that's easier said than done. The Huskies have a formidable four-game schedule remaining: at Cal, home against USC and Arizona State, then at Washington State. From there, they need to knock off the Pac-12 South champion in the Pac-12 title game. Do that and Washington gets the second spot in the playoff.
4. You need to root for Ohio State and Michigan, but mostly Ohio State
Step one: Ohio State needs to run the table. If the Buckeyes do that, they'll get into the College Football Playoff as the Big Ten champion with just one loss. In order to get that done, they'll need to beat Michigan. You want Michigan to run the table right up until the matchup with Ohio State. Then, you need an all out slobberknocker of a football game — possibly the most entertaining game of the season — to take place between the Wolverines and Buckeyes in Columbus. You want Ohio State to sneak out the door with a close win that leaves the nation begging for more.
If the only blemish on Michigan's record is a close loss in a great game at Ohio State, and everything I've talked about above goes down the way I said it needs to, then Jim Harbaugh's Wolverines will claim the fourth spot in the College Football Playoff and the SEC will watch from home.
We can dream, can't we?
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.