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Oregon's case vs. the SEC and the fourth Playoff spot

A Week 11 comparison of Oregon versus the contenders in the SEC and the Big 12

Steve Dykes

After some inevitable shake-up in the national picture with Auburn defeating Ole Miss, a spot opens up in the four team Playoff. The SEC has clear strength and has established themselves as the top Conference in the nation, but the three SEC teams in the inaugural rankings upset a lot of people out west. A few candidates emerge to temporarily guard the fourth spot, and Oregon and Alabama were the most hotly debated, although one-loss TCU has looked awfully strong out of the 'Big 12. In the end, Oregon moved up from #5 to the fourth spot, right where they belong.

The SEC Is Really Good

For a number of reasons, the SEC has been able to separate themselves from the rest of the Power 5, and this year it's a little more evident. They recruit the best, having 7 of the top 10 teams in the ESPN rankings in each of the last 2 years. According to NFL.com, the SEC has had the most players drafted for the last 8 seasons, having 49 in 2014. Not to mention they have put themselves in position to win 7 of the last 8 national championships. Some of the most proven coaches are attracted to the Conference and the gap seems to only be getting better.

The SEC Is Not the Only Competitive Conference

For all the accomplishments the SEC has made, they are still just 14 of the 128 teams in FBS and represent only 1/5 of the Power Conferences. Texas, Oklahoma, USC, Stanford, Ohio St, Clemson, Oregon and others have been around for a little while now in the national title conversation. The National Champion came from the ACC last year and every conference right now out of the Power 5 has a contender in the top 10. So to say that the SEC deserves 75% of the College Football Playoff seems extreme to me. There are a lot of other good teams, and some of those boast stronger resumes, especially in their non-conference slates.

Oregon and TCU vs. Alabama

The SEC could have potentially filled the void left by Ole Miss with another SEC team in Alabama, who is ranked 4th in the AP and USA Today. Oregon and TCU would like for others to believe that they are deserving of the spot.

Week 10 CFP Rankings

1. Mississippi St

2. Florida St

3. Auburn

4. Ole Miss

5. Oregon

6. Alabama

7. TCU

Mississippi St and Florida St are locks for the 1 and 2 spot, both coming off wins. Auburn will also be easily given the number 3 spot, making them a second SEC team. Ole Miss lost to Auburn, and now Oregon and TCU, leaders of their conferences, will try to hold off Alabama from becoming the #3 SEC team. As we now know, the Ducks hold onto the spot for now.

Alabama has defeated 1 ranked team, West Virginia. They weren't ranked at the time but have since proved themselves and are now sitting at #24. The Crimson Tide's lone loss came at Ole Miss, barely losing 23-17. The win against Texas A&M 59-0 was very impressive as well, I don't care if the Aggies have fallen off a bit, to beat A&M like that and pitch a shutout is an amazing feat.

Oregon has defeated 2 ranked teams, #7 Michigan St and #18 UCLA. Michigan St has gone on to win their next 6. Oregon out-hustled them the whole way in Eugene, winning 46-27. Oregon's loss came to Arizona, who quickly jumped into the top 10 before dropping to #21. They avenged their last two losses to Stanford taking down the Cardinal 45-16 as well, although they have looked a little like A&M this year.

TCU is the surprise of the Big 12, which competes for the Pac 12 for second strongest Conference. They have defeated 2 ranked teams, #16 Oklahoma and #24 West Virginia. Their only loss came against Baylor in a shootout, falling 61-58 to Bryce Petty and the Bears. They have scored even more points than the Ducks this year, and have proven that they belong among the nation's elite. The 42-9 win over Oklahoma St also shows how far the Horned Frogs have come.

So looking at the hard results of the season, the hard facts of what has actually occurred so far, Oregon and TCU have each beaten two ranked teams and Alabama has beat just 1. Each has lost once to a ranked team, and although Alabama may have the "best loss" they also have the least impressive win over a ranked team. As it sits right now, Alabama belongs behind both Oregon and TCU in the polls. With a lot of action left to go, all eyes will be on these three teams this week, as they all face ranked opponents. Utah, Kansas St, and LSU all have high hopes of knocking them off.