If you’re a Tennessee Vols fan who is worried about UT not making the College Football Playoff this season, then there’s a factoid that might make you feel a bit better.

Five of the last six College Football Playoff brackets have included a program that didn’t win a conference championship.

The most recent was Georgia in 2021.

  • 2016 — Ohio State (Didn’t play in the Big 10 Championship Game)
  • 2017 — Alabama (didn’t play in the SEC Championship Game)*
  • 2018 — Notre Dame (not eligible to play in a conference championship game)
  • 2019 — N/A
  • 2020 — Notre Dame
  • 2021 — Georgia (lost to Alabama in the SEC Championship game)*

* Denotes that the team went on to win the national championship

Tennessee Vols
Jan 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) runs the ball against Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Nolan Smith (4) during the second half in the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama in 2017 is the best comparison for Tennessee in 2022.

The Crimson Tide lost by 12 points to Auburn in November of that season. Because of that loss, Auburn, which had just one conference loss (to LSU), played for the SEC Championship (they lost to Georgia).

(Auburn in 2017 is basically like LSU in 2022, except Auburn’s nonconference loss was to a Clemson team that made the playoff while LSU’s loss was to a mediocre Florida State team.)

Alabama made the playoff as the No. 4 seed despite not playing for the SEC title.

Tennessee, which has a 14-point loss to Georgia this season, is essentially in the same situation. If UT wins their final three games, they’ll finish the regular season at 11-1.

The only difference is that Alabama’s main competition for the final playoff spot in 2017 was a 13-0 UCF team.

Tennessee, meanwhile, is trying hoping to hold off TCU and whoever wins the Pac-12 (and possibly a one-loss Big 10 team).

Nothing is certain when it comes to the committee, but the precedent has already been set for a one-loss SEC team that doesn’t play for the SEC Championship to make the playoff. UT still probably needs some help (TCU losing is the main help they need), but they’re still in a good spot).

And that’s certainly good news for the Vols and the Big Orange faithful.

Featured image via Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

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