A Tiger Roams Rematch City
College Football Playoff
This Tiger walked into a bar and sitting at the first three barstools was an Indian, a Duck and a Bulldog. The bartender who saw the Tiger darken the door, slowly placed the glass he was drying down on the bar, backed up and said, “You’re here again?” The Tiger stared back at the bartender for a moment, got a big grin on his face, then turned away and walked past the other three where he sat quietly at the opposite end of the bar.
Mississippi State, Florida State, and Oregon are three teams who played Auburn in high profile games in recent years and all three have potential to meet the Tigers again in the inaugural college football playoff. Since all three won their games this week, it’s likely the college football playoff ranking of the top three will not change.
No. 4 Ole Miss was eliminated (at least for the time being) with a, 35 – 31, loss to the Auburn Tigers. The twelve-member playoff committee proved they are not fans of two-loss teams, not even in the tough SEC when they bounced LSU down three positions in the college football playoff ranking last week compared to the AP, so Ole Miss is likely to join LSU outside of the top ten. The Rebels vacate the coveted No. 4 spot available to be filled this week by either No. 5 Oregon or No. 6 Alabama both poised to move up into the top four in the college football playoff. There is an outside chance that The Tide could wash over Oregon to No. 4 this week, but with Oregon beating Stanford, 45 – 16, the Ducks are the likely replacement.
If the college football playoff games were played this week, No. 4 Oregon would be matched with No. 1 Mississippi State and No. 2 Florida State would face off with No. 3 Auburn. Auburn would get the revenge rematch it yearns for since they gave up a 21 to 10 lead at the half last January and lost, 34 – 31, in the final BCS National Championship game where the last crystal football was hoisted, passed around and kissed by Jameis Winston. Both teams with returning quarterbacks would be a repeat battle. Auburn fans would love to get the rematch of the 2013 National Championship Game against Florida State where the Tigers came up just 13 seconds short of winning their second national title in four years.
Speaking of Auburn’s last national championship, that’s another rematch opportunity this year. In 2010 Auburn met the Oregon Ducks, both teams undefeated, in what was expected to be a high scoring game by two fast paced offensively heavy hitters. What we witnessed was a defensive battle and a surprisingly low-scoring game. Trailing the Ducks, 22 – 16, the Tigers would go on to be named national champions after a game winning kick by Wes Byrum as time expired.
Auburn beat the Ducks, 22 – 19. No doubt Oregon Ducks would love another quack at it in a 2014 playoff matchup against the Auburn Tigers. It could happen this year, because if the College Football Playoff Selection Committee has little other choice than to place two SEC teams in the four-team playoff, they will likely make sure the two SEC teams play in the first round. What is the feasibility of an Oregon Vs Auburn rematch for the championship this year?
To ensure there is not an automatic SEC Champion, like there was in 2011 with the LSU Alabama rematch, the committee would avoid an all-SEC final game by pitting the Bulldogs against the Tigers in the first round of the playoffs. Also a rematch game, because Mississippi State already defeated Auburn in the regular season mid-October game, 38 – 28. The cowbells may not ring as vigorously for a rematch as they would for a new opponent, but Auburn fans would go buzz-zerk for another chance at the undefeated No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs.
A Tiger victory against Mississippi State would advance them to the national championship game where they would rematch, either Oregon or FSU. Rematches are popular for the losing fanbase and sometimes less appealing for the team that already won. Which would Auburn fans prefer? – Another chance to beat FSU or to drown the Ducks again?
The rest of the country moans as their teams fight for two places on the bracket while the SEC continues to hold two places. There is certainly a lot of football left to play in November, but if these four teams win the rest of their games this season, no matter how the playoff committee scribes the college football playoff bracket, Auburn is sure to see some familiar faces on the other side of the ball. At the end of the night in Arlington, January 15, 2015, only one mascot will be left in the bar and they will be happy to pick up the tab for the other three.
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