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Why the SEC and Pac-12 are on opposite sides of the playoff race

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Intriguing SEC matchups headline Week 3 (2:16)

Kirk Herbstreit breaks down the games he is looking forward to this weekend, including LSU vs. Auburn and Alabama vs. Ole Miss. (2:16)

The thought of two SEC teams making the playoff again probably makes some folks outside of the Southeast sick. But they ought to prepare for the possibility, because the SEC is more likely to place two teams into the playoff (38 percent) than the Pac-12 is to get any number of teams in (24 percent), according to ESPN's Playoff Predictor.

Just two weeks into the season, that speaks volumes about the state of both conferences.

We're starting this week's scenario article -- where we use the Playoff Predictor to determine who will get in under various circumstances -- with the SEC, and how it could get two teams into the semifinals again this year. The reality is that it's so likely because there is a plethora of potential answers, such as the ones below (along with each team's chance to reach the playoff in the scenario).

1. If Alabama wins the SEC and beats an otherwise undefeated Georgia: Alabama 95 percent, Georgia 77 percent.
2. If Georgia wins the SEC and beats an otherwise undefeated Alabama: Alabama 87 percent, Georgia 80 percent.
3. If Alabama goes 11-1 in its scheduled games, losing to only Auburn: Alabama 73 percent, Georgia 49 percent, Auburn 20 percent.
4. If Auburn's only scheduled game loss is to Alabama in the Iron Bowl: Alabama 68 percent, Auburn 66 percent, Georgia 25 percent.
(Note: In scenario No. 4, Alabama or Georgia is likely to win the SEC and therefore substantially increase its chance.)