- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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We're only about a month away from the SEC championship game in Atlanta, but both of the conference's divisional races are still wide open as we enter the stretch run. Let's take a look at some of the scenarios in play for the remaining contenders:
• Saturday's Alabama-LSU could throw this race open a bit if LSU wins, but the truth is that top-ranked Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) could still lose this game and win the West. The Crimson Tide would probably drop out of the BCS championship race -- at least temporarily -- but even with one loss, they could return to Atlanta by beating Mississippi State and Auburn even if they lose to LSU.
• No. 13 LSU (7-2, 3-2) probably has to win out -- that means beating Alabama, Texas A&M and Arkansas -- and hope for some help from Alabama and Auburn's remaining opponents. The Tigers are the only team to beat Auburn this season, so they'd have a head-to-head tiebreaker edge, but Auburn must lose again to be tied with LSU. Same thing with a win against Alabama on Saturday. The Tigers still need Alabama to lose once more afterward to enter a tie with the Tide.
For fun, let's say Auburn, Alabama and LSU all finish with two SEC losses and that Alabama's two losses are to Auburn and LSU. That's how LSU can play in Atlanta based on its hypothetical head-to-head wins against Auburn and Alabama. See the league's tiebreaker rules for more details.
• No. 9 Auburn (8-1, 4-1) is still very much in the mix here. If the Tigers win out, they will represent the West in Atlanta. Simple, right? Of course, that means posting wins at Tennessee and at home against Georgia and Alabama. No big deal.
• No. 15 Texas A&M (7-2, 3-2) would need a miracle to reach Atlanta. Having lost to Alabama and Auburn already, the Aggies are still mathematically alive, but time is running out on A&M. If the Aggies win out, however, they can create some mayhem in the SEC East -- as we'll detail in a moment.
• The West still has two teams that still control their destiny in Alabama and Auburn. The only Eastern Division team that can make that claim is No. 8 Missouri (8-1, 4-1). The Tigers have a one-game edge in the loss column over both South Carolina and Georgia and own a head-to-head edge against Georgia. As long as they win out -- they have road dates against Kentucky (2-6, 0-4) and Ole Miss (5-3, 2-3) and a home game against Texas A&M remaining -- the Tigers will claim their first SEC East title.
• With its overtime win at Mizzou two weekends ago, No. 12 South Carolina (7-2, 5-2) put itself in position to win a tiebreaker against the Tigers should they lose once more. The Gamecocks are idle this weekend and must beat Florida (4-4, 3-3) in their Nov. 16 SEC finale to stay in the race.
• Georgia (5-3, 4-2) stayed in the hunt by knocking Florida out of the picture last weekend. But the Bulldogs still have only an outside shot of making it back to Atlanta for a third straight season. They have a head-to-head edge against South Carolina, but not Missouri. If all three teams finish with two SEC losses and Missouri's second league loss comes to Texas A&M -- seemingly the most likely way that would happen -- Mizzou would still hold the tiebreaker edge.
To reach Atlanta, Bulldogs fans must hope for Georgia to win out and for Missouri to lose twice down the stretch, in which case it wouldn't matter what happens with South Carolina since Georgia won their head-to-head matchup.
3dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough