SEC Championship Game: Why Are They Playing?

OK, so if No. 1 Georgia (12-0) beats No. 14 LSU (9-3) in the SEC championship game Saturday afternoon (4 p.m. CBS) in Atlanta, it’ll be the four-team college football playoffs.

If Georgia loses to LSU, it’s into the college football playoffs.

If LSU upsets Georgia, it won’t go to the college football playoffs.

If LSU loses to Georgia, it doesn’t go to the college football playoffs.

So why are you playing this game?

I just saw you wrap your four fingers lightly around your thumb to say “money.”

Georgia coach Kirby Smart won the national championship last season because losing the SEC championship game earlier this season had no impact. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Right. It’s also an old habit. This game used to really mean something. It was the first of its kind in upper-level college football’s 1992 season and helped develop the playoff system. But Saturday’s game is just a scramble from a national perspective.

SEC championship game has no national significance

Georgia wants to win the SEC overall title, yes. And that’s a nice thought and a great banner to hang. Banners are cool and last. But Georgia lost that game to Alabama last year and then beat Alabama in the national championship game. So that wiped out the SEC title game and gave the Bulldogs an even bigger banner.

Alabama failed to make the SEC title game in 2017 and won the national championship by defeating and obliterating SEC title game winner Georgia.

It was a great game, but it has run its course, especially with the new 12-team playoff coming in the 2024 season. The game will continue to be more of a nuisance than it is Saturday in Georgia and redundant than significant.

Even Georgia coach Kirby Smart sees that.

“With the upcoming expansion, I don’t think this game will be a hit or miss,” said Smart.

League championship games become dinosaurs

And isn’t a “championship game” about make or break?

“It’s probably going to be a situation to maybe step up or something,” he said.

That’s right, it will be another chance for a team that has stumbled in an already long 12-game season to find their way. Well, that’s too many chances, especially with more chances to make the playoffs – eight more opens.

“Or something,” said Smart, proving that one must look for a good reason for a future conference championship game.

The game is important for LSU on Saturday because a win over a No. 1 team is a win over a No. 1 team and puts the Tigers in the Sugar Bowl. Ah, the sugar bowl. There was a time when that meant something to the SEC, too. But it has long been a national bowl and will remain a part of the national semifinals and championship game rotation.

But LSU is one of the few three-lost teams to ever make the SEC title game. It’s also the biggest underdog in the game’s history, with 17 points.

SEC title game won’t become a rating champion

This game will not be a ratings bonanza by any imagination or the SEC delusion. It would be great for LSU to get 10 wins and reach the Sugar Bowl on Saturday. But it had the whole year and 12 games to do that. That should be enough time.

In two other major conference championship games on Saturday, No. 3 TCU (12-0) played No. 12 Kansas State (9-3) and No. 2 Michigan (12-0) in the Big 12 title game (Noon, ABC) . ) will play Purdue (8-4) in the Big Ten title game (8 p.m., FOX) against Purdue (8-4).

No. 4 USC’s upset loss to No. 14 Utah on Friday night meant something. USC is out.

But it means that even if TCU and Michigan each lose on Saturday, both will or could remain in the top four for the playoffs announced Sunday (12 p.m. ESPN).

What are we looking at today? And why?

With more playoff games coming up, fewer conference championship games will be needed. Or at least reduce the number of regular season games from 12 to 11 so Alabama doesn’t play Austin Peay in November.

“I think there are a number of reasons why conference championship games will remain viable even as we go through this transition to an extended playoff,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said Thursday.

He didn’t wrap his fingers around his thumb lightly, but he might as well have. He did not give any other reasons.