AUBURN — The College Football Playoff committee sent a message with their rankings Tuesday night.
With Auburn (8-4, 5-3 in SEC) still ranked as the second-highest SEC school, The Tigers seemingly need only to avoid one more result to be booted from a possible Sugar Bowl berth.
Auburn was ranked No. 14 in Tuesday’s rankings and was among five SEC teams in the top 25, along with No. 1 Alabama, No. 15 Florida, No. 21 LSU and No. 22 Tennessee.
According to the rules of the league and its bowl allotment, the Sugar Bowl is required to select the second-highest-ranked SEC school in the CFP rankings. The bowl game representatives can’t select a high-ranked program in a different conference. It must be the second-highest SEC program if the SEC champion is in the four-team playoff format. From that same standpoint, the Sugar Bowl must also select the Big 12 Conference champion if that conference isn’t selected for the playoff bracket. The winner of the Bedlam rivalry game between No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 10 Oklahoma State will win that honor.
Auburn needed these three things to happen last Saturday to ensure a Sugar Bowl trip: Lose in a competitive, non-blowout fashion at No. 1 Alabama in the Iron Bowl, have Tennessee suffer an upset loss at Vanderbilt and have Florida lose at Florida State.
With Florida (8-3, 6-2 in SEC) being the Eastern Division representative in the SEC Championship Game, Auburn would likely only lose out on the Sugar Bowl if the Gators were to win the contest against Alabama (12-0, 8-0 in SEC).
The only unknown element is whether a competitive score in a loss for Florida would allow them to jump the one spot ahead of Auburn based on Florida having one more highly-ranked opponent in its strength of schedule.