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Your Guide to Rooting for an SEC-Free College Football Playoff


If you're like me, you're a bald white guy in his late 30s who writes about college football for beer money. Additionally, unless you are a fan of an SEC football team, you smile like you just got away with something every time something bad happens to the SEC.

How big would that smile be if the SEC was shut out of the College Football Playoff this season? That's what I thought. Now put your serious face back on and pay attention.

The possibility of an SEC-free College Football Playoff to end the 2015 season is very real, but a couple of things need to happen. You're going want to root for these things to happen. Will you rooting for them help all of this to transpire? I don't have a doubt in my mind that it will not. Nevertheless, you're still going to need a step-by-step guide of who and what to root for. Some of it may be painful — possibly challenging your morals. But trust me, if you want to see the SEC left out of the College Football Playoff, you're going to need to accept all of these outcomes.

1. You must root for Ole Miss

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Despite having two losses, Ole Miss still controls its own destiny in the SEC West. If the Rebels win out, it means Alabama and LSU don't play in the SEC Championship Game. The committee is simply not going to put a team into the Playoff if it can't win its own division.

2. You'll need to watch some Florida State games

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Florida State must lose to Clemson to allow the Tigers to run the table and lock up one of the four Playoff spots. Then, to end the season, Florida State will need to knock off Florida to saddle the Gators with a second loss. That'll set up an SEC Championship Game where the winner is guaranteed to have at least two losses.

3. You need the Big 12 champion to be undefeated

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TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma State are our only hopes. One of them must emerge from the four-way, round-robin shootout with Oklahoma unscathed. Conference championship game or not, the committee isn't leaving out an unbeaten Big 12 champion. We don't want to risk allowing them to decide between a one-loss Big 12 champ and a two-loss SEC champ.

4. You need the Big Ten champion to be undefeated

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This starts with rooting for Iowa. If the Hawkeyes get to Indy unblemished, that's half the battle. On the other side of the Big Ten, you must root against Jim Harbaugh and Michigan. The Wolverines can ruin this thing by beating Ohio State if the Buckeyes have already defeated Michigan State. The easiest scenario, however, is for Michigan State to win out. That way, we don't even need to watch or care about the Ohio State-Michigan game. Unless you root for either of those teams, I'm guessing the thought of watching three hours of Harbaugh and Urban Meyer staring into each other's eyes from across the field would be nauseating. Whatever happens, you need Michigan State, Ohio State or Iowa to come out of the Big Ten without a loss.

At this point, if all goes as planned, we'll be staring at a landscape with three unbeaten Power 5 conference champions. All three should be locks for the four-team Playoff. Here is where your moral fiber (unless you are a Notre Dame fan) will be challenged.

5. You must root for Notre Dame... or Stanford... or Utah

If Notre Dame runs the table from here on out, the Fighting Irish will get in. This means you must root for them to take down Stanford to end the season. Why? If Notre Dame loses to the Cardinal, that means we all have to sit around and watch the Pac-12 title game between a one-loss Stanford and what we hope is a one-loss Utah. Then we need one of the two teams to blow the other one out of the water like Ohio State did to Wisconsin last year in the Big Ten title game. Again, we want to leave nothing in the hands of the committee.

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Additionally, you are also rooting against any upsets of any of the teams I mentioned. You want this. You need this. And you don't need any Syracuses, Penn States or Boston Colleges stepping up and getting cute along the way. This is serious business.

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Scott is the editor-in-chief of, a Big Ten site for Big Ten fans. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.