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OK, if No. 1 Georgia (12-0) beats No. 14 LSU (9-3) in Saturday afternoon’s SEC championship game (4 p.m., CBS) in Atlanta, it goes to the four-team College Football Playoff.
If Georgia loses to LSU, it goes to the College Football Playoff.
If LSU upsets Georgia, it does not go to the College Football Playoff.
If LSU loses to Georgia, it does not go to the College Football Playoff.
So, why are they playing this game?
I just saw you wrap your four fingers lightly around your thumb to say, “Money.”
Correct. It’s also old habit. This game used to really mean something back in the day. It was the first of its kind in the 1992 season in upper level college football and helped in the evolution of the playoff system. But Saturday’s game is just a scrimmage from a national perspective.
SEC Championship Game Has No National Significance
Georgia would like to win the overall SEC title, yes. And that’s a nice thought and a great banner to hang. Banners are cool, and they last. But Georgia lost this game last year to Alabama, then beat Alabama in the national championship game. So, that erased the SEC title game and gave the Bulldogs an even greater banner.
Alabama didn’t make the SEC title game in 2017 and won the national championship by beating and erasinig SEC title game winner Georgia.
It has been a great game, but it has run its course, particularly with the new 12-team playoff coming in the 2024 season. The game will continue to be more of a nuisance, which it is to Georgia Saturday, and redundant than it will be significant.
Even Georgia coach Kirby Smart sees that.
“With the expansion looming, I don’t think this game is going to be a make or break,” Smart said.
League Championship Games Will Become Dinosaurs
And isn’t make or break what it’s all about in a “championship” game?
“It’s probably going to be a situation to maybe move up or something,” he said.
Right, it will be one more chance for a team that has stumbled in an already long season of 12 games to right itself. Well, that’s too many chances, particularly with more chances to make the playoffs – eight more openings.
“Or something,” Smart said, proving one has to reach to find a good reason for a conference championship games of the future.
The game is important to LSU Saturday because a win over a No. 1 team is a win over a No. 1 team, and it will put the Tigers in the Sugar Bowl. Ah, the Sugar Bowl. There was a time when that meant something to the SEC, too. But it has long been a national bowl and will remain a part of the national semifinal and championship game rotation.
But LSU is one of the few three-loss teams to ever make the SEC title game. It is also the largest underdog in the history of the game at 17 points.
SEC Title Game Will Not Be A Ratings Champion
This game is not going to be a ratings bonanza by any stretch of the imagination or that of SEC delusionment. It would be great for LSU to get to 10 wins and get to the Sugar Bowl on Saturday. But it had all year and 12 games to do that. That should be enough time.
In two other major conference championship game Saturday, No. 3 TCU (12-0) was playing No. 12 Kansas State (9-3) in the Big 12 title game (Noon, ABC) and No. 2 Michigan (12-0) will play non-ranked Purdue (8-4) in the Big Ten title game (8 p.m., FOX).
But word has it that even if TCU and Michigan each lose Saturday, both will or could stay in the top four for the playoffs to be announced Sunday (Noon, ESPN).
So what are we watching today? And why?
With more playoff games coming, fewer conference championship games are needed. Or at least decrease the number of regular season games from 12 to 11, so we don’t have Alabama playing Austin Peay in November.
“I think there are a number of reasons why conference championship games will remain viable even as we go through this transition into an expanded playoff,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Thursday.
He didn’t wrap his fingers lightly around his thumb, but he may as well have. He gave no other reasons.