Tonight’s College Football Playoff rankings broke the right way for Tennessee to make it to the Sugar Bowl:
- 8-3 Tennessee moved up two spots to #17 in the rankings
- 8-3 Auburn is the highest non-playoff SEC team at #13. They’ve got Alabama next.
- 9-2 Florida is #15. They’ve got Florida State, then Bama.
- 8-3 Texas A&M and 7-4 LSU are both unranked. Some speculated the Aggies, owners of a head-to-head win over the Vols, might pass the Vols if they beat LSU on Thursday. But with both A&M and LSU unranked, it seems highly unlikely the committee would jump the Aggies from outside the poll to above Tennessee after a Vol victory.
Removing A&M and LSU from the equation leaves the following path:
- Tennessee (-7.5) beats Vanderbilt
- Alabama (-17) beats Auburn
- Florida State (-7.5) beats Florida
- Alabama beats Florida (projected -21) in the SEC Championship Game
The Vols were burned by LSU as a -14.5 favorite last week, so anything can happen. But it wouldn’t take any upsets for Tennessee to earn a trip to the New Year’s Six.
Also of note: Oklahoma staying behind Wisconsin and Penn State even after throttling West Virginia suggests the Sooners will need significant upsets in front of them to make the playoffs even if they beat Oklahoma State, making it more likely the winner of that game would be Tennessee’s opponent in the Sugar Bowl.