Wait. What would Florida have to do to swap names with Alabama there? Or possibly join them as one of college football’s final four? The Gators (6-1, 4-1 SEC) enter their bye week tied with Georgia atop the SEC East standings. Though it may seem far-fetched, they do have a path to the playoff. The only thing is that a lot of dominoes need to fall in order for that to happen. Let’s outline them.
1. Florida has to beat Georgia.
It seemed out of reach in the preseason, but defeating the Bulldogs doesn’t seem so daunting anymore. LSU smacked UGA 36-16, and as most Gator fans know, anything can happen in the rivalry known as the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” in Jacksonville. A win over Georgia is important because it gives Florida the tiebreaker if the two teams end up with the same amount of losses.
2. Florida has to (probably) win out the rest of the regular season.
The good news: It’s doable. ESPN’s Football Power Index says UF has better than a 75 percent chance to beat each of Missouri, South Carolina and Florida State. Florida also has a 99 percent chance to beat Idaho. Read point No. 4 for the “probably” part of this.
3. Kentucky needs to lose one more time.
The Wildcats are just a half-game back of Georgia and Florida. They still have to play teams like Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Georgia. ESPN gives them a 0.5 percent chance of winning out, which seems about right but not much better than Florida’s 3.6 percent chance of winning out. Kentucky already beat Florida and would own the tiebreaker if the two ended up tied for first.
SEC Network’s Peter Burns has already picked the Wildcats to win the east.
4. Florida will have to beat Alabama or LSU in the SEC Championship game.
Like every year except last, ‘Bama will probably be waiting in Atlanta for whichever team wins the east. The Crimson Tide looks stronger than ever under Heisman candidate Tua Tagovailoa and are the undisputed favorite to win it all.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Florida loses to Alabama and makes the playoff as a two-loss team. But if a one-loss UF pulls off the upset? Things get interesting. ESPN’s Playoff Predictor currently says the SEC has a 26 percent chance of sending multiple teams to the playoff, by far the highest number of any conference.
However, if LSU can take down Alabama in Death Valley on Nov. 3 and win the west? Well, that would certainly be ideal for Florida, seeing as the Tigers are lot less scary and the SEC champion has made the playoff every year since its inception four years ago.