Though the SEC West race didn’t change much, the East gained significant clarity.
The East is effectively down to a three-team race. Florida has not yet technically been eliminated, but it faces extremely long odds, needing just about everyone to lose twice more.
The biggest domino falls this week when Alabama hosts LSU. A Crimson Tide win would eliminate LSU and Texas A&M, leaving just Alabama and Auburn.
Here’s a closer look at the SEC divisional races:
Missouri (4-1, 8-1 overall): If Missouri wins out, it captures the division title without any help. After beating Tennessee last week, the Tigers are in good shape for a potential three-way tie-breaker. As long as Mizzou beats Kentucky, it would hold the divisional record advantage, which comes in after head-to-head competition on the SEC tie-breaker list. The Tigers potentially get QB1 James Franklin back this week as well, which would significantly boost their chances to reach Atlanta. Still, the final two games – at Ole Miss and home against Texas A&M – present real challenges to the Tigers even at full strength. Missouri will root hard for Georgia to beat Auburn. Missouri owns the tie-breaker in the event they finish in a two-way tie with Georgia and the Tigers would win a tie-breaker because of their divisional record in the event of a three-way tie with South Carolina. If Georgia loses to Auburn, Missouri could finish in a tie with South Carolina. The Tigers would lose that tie-breaker by virtue of the Gamecocks’ double-overtime victory two weeks ago.
South Carolina (5-2, 7-2 overall): The easiest path for South Carolina to advance to Atlanta involves winning out and Missouri, and Georgia losing once more each. The Gamecocks want to avoid a three-way tie involving Missouri and Georgia unless the Tigers lose at Kentucky this weekend. In the event South Carolina finishes in a two-way tie with Missouri, the Gamecocks would win the tie-breaker because of head-to-head competition. However, South Carolina would lose a two-way tie-breaker with Georgia.
Georgia (4-2, 5-3 overall): For the Bulldogs to make a run at the division title, they must win at Auburn in two weeks and take care of business at home against Kentucky. Georgia also needs help. Missouri must lose at least once – and probably twice – more. For Georgia to have any chance in a tie-breaker with a 6-2 Missouri team, the Tigers would have to lose to Kentucky. Otherwise a two-loss Missouri team would win any tie-breaker involving Georgia because of head-to-head outcome and/or divisional record. A two-way tie with South Carolina would allow the Bulldogs to advance to Atlanta.
Florida (3-3, 4-4 overall): Though the Gators could technically still win the division, the road became far more challenging. Florida must beat Vanderbilt and win at South Carolina to have a chance. Then the Gators would need Georgia to lose to both Auburn and Kentucky and for Missouri to lose thrice more. It would be shocking for the dominos to fall in such a way to get Florida to the SEC Championship Game.
Alabama (5-0, 8-0 overall): Obviously if Alabama wins its final three conference games, nobody can catch it. That’s the simplest path to Atlanta. Even a one-loss Crimson Tide team captures the division if Auburn loses again. This division is Alabama’s to lose. Even if it loses to LSU this week, the Tide would have to fall again either to Mississippi State or Auburn to not advance to the SEC Championship Game.
Auburn (4-1, 8-1 overall): The Tigers’ only realistic chance of winning the West is to win out, including a victory over Alabama. In SEC divisional races, only Auburn, Alabama and Missouri completely control their paths. Auburn could potentially win the division with two losses, but would need a lot of help. The only possible way a two-loss Auburn team wins the division is if LSU or Mississippi State beats Alabama and Auburn does as well. If a two-loss LSU team is involved in the tie, though, Auburn would be eliminated. A two-loss Auburn could win a tie-breaker involving Texas A&M and Alabama assuming Auburn beats the Crimson Tide.
LSU (3-2, 7-2 overall): Barring Alabama losing its final three conference games – which ranks toward the top of college football’s “least probable” chart – LSU needs to win out. Doing so would mean beating both the Crimson Tide and Texas A&M. If a two-loss LSU team is involved in a tie-breaker scenario, it would automatically win. The only way LSU, at 6-2, can be in a tie-breaker is if Alabama loses twice, including to LSU. Even if Auburn finishes 6-2 as well, LSU would hold the edge because it would be 2-0 against Auburn and Alabama. It isn’t possible for Texas A&M to be involved in a tie-breaker with a two-loss LSU team.
Texas A&M (3-2, 7-2 overall): There is little chance the Aggies can win the SEC West. They must win out and hope Alabama loses its last three conference games. One Alabama win eliminates A&M from contention for the division.