The first College Football Playoff will take place this coming season, and ESPN.com believes Alabama, Auburn, Florida State and Oregon are the top contenders to fill the four spots. They all made the cut as May Madness rolls on to Day 3.
Alabama and Auburn were the only two SEC teams in the final eight, and the two in-state rivals both moved on. What separated the top four teams? Each teams has a potential pitfall that they’re working to turn into an opportunity this offseason.
For Alabama, it’s about taking care of the little things, something it didn’t do in the final two games last year. Nick Saban has spent the offseason refocusing his team and bringing the players closer together with bowling and ping-pong tournaments. The expectation for the Crimson Tide is to improve on their 11-2 mark and get back to playing for a championship.
Over on the Plains, the Auburn Tigers are still relishing in their last-second Iron Bowl victory and their 12-2 season. It was an incredible year, but it’s time for the players to wake up and get back to reality. Gus Malzahn is using the memories from last season as motivation to not only get back to championship game, but to win it.
Both programs have very different mindsets coming into 2014, but the goal remains the same -- win a national championship. On Thursday, the field will be narrowed to two.