Pivotal games for SEC football teams and spinning a successful season with no Playoff

How many SEC football teams can miss the Playoffs and still spin a successful season story? Check out pivotal games for several SEC teams.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
1 of 3

Before the 2024 college football regular season ends, around 11 SEC football teams will start aiming for success in the 2025 season. Five others will likely concentrate on 2024 post-season success in the Playoffs. The 11 teams will need something from the 2024 season to use in claims that 2025 will bring improved results. Some of them will possibly get boosts from bowl game performances. Others will point to key wins or upsets they achieved in the regular season.

To how many SEC football teams is this situation pertinent? My take is the number is nine teams. Three of the other seven (Georgia, Texas, and Alabama) are the SEC's top Playoff favorites. For the Bulldogs, Longhorns, and Crimson Tide, no amount of spin would absolve failing to make the 12-team field.

Arkansas, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Missouri are also not considered. Missouri has such an easy schedule, 2024 should bring nine or ten wins. Not making the Playoffs would not erase an upward trend for the Tigers. The Razorbacks, Bulldogs, and Commodores are not included because the potential of an upward trend is so small. Combined, they probably will not win 15 games.

Pivotal 2024 SEC Football Games

The nine teams are listed alphabetically.

  • Auburn Tigers - Even staunch Auburn fans project a ceiling of seven, or maybe eight wins. Reaching eight indicates progress for Hugh Freeze. At seven, the credibility of an upset win would be needed. The upset win could come on Oct. 19 at Missouri. What might become the 'make-or-break' game for 2025 claims is Texas A&M at Auburn the week before the Iron Bowl. Looking ahead to Alabama could prove a mistake for the Tigers.
  • Florida Gators - Billy Napier is under duress in Gainesville. He needs at least seven wins and given the schedule, identifying seven is a challenge. Napier and the Gators have an early opportunity to gain an upset with Miami at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on the opening weekend. An even bigger win for the Gators would be to topple Tennessee in Knoxville. Losses against Miami and Tennessee would mean the Gators would likely need home wins over Texas A&M, UCF, Kentucky, LSU, and Ole Miss; along with a road win over Mississippi State to reach seven wins. So many pivotal games make Florida the most vulnerable SEC team in 2024.