- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
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Following last Saturday’s games, the SEC West turned into a two-team race between in-state rivals Alabama and Auburn, but the East is still up for grabs with Missouri in the driver’s seat and both Georgia and South Carolina vying for the top spot.
Let’s take a look at what each team has to do in order to reach Atlanta for the SEC championship game.
Alabama (9-0, 6-0) looked mighty impressive against an LSU team that has caused problems for the Crimson Tide in recent years. With that signature win behind them, Nick Saban’s bunch now has just two conference games left. First, they have to avoid a letdown this weekend when they visit Mississippi State, but the game everybody is already talking about is the Iron Bowl in three weeks between Alabama and Auburn. If the Tide win out, they’re headed back to Atlanta for the second year in a row.
Speaking of that Auburn team (9-1, 5-1), it still controls its own destiny in the SEC West as well. While the Tigers have been the biggest turnaround in college football, they aren’t done yet. They will have their hands full Saturday against their cross-division rival Georgia in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, but a win against the Bulldogs, and the Iron Bowl will turn into a virtual play-in game for a spot in the SEC championship.
Saturday’s loss to Alabama not only knocked LSU (7-3, 3-3) out of contention, but it also ended Texas A&M’s hopes of winning the West. The Aggies (8-2, 4-2), needed Alabama to lose if they had any shot. Even if Alabama loses out and Auburn were to lose this weekend, the three-way tie-breaker would go to Auburn because of head-to-head play.
Missouri (9-1, 5-1) took care of business on the road last weekend against Kentucky. The Tigers, in their second year in the league, are two wins away from reaching the conference championship. However, a visit to Ole Miss and a home date with Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M still loom on the schedule. A loss would certainly hurt, but Missouri would still go to Atlanta in the event of a three-way tie with Georgia and South Carolina.
Between the two contenders, South Carolina (7-2, 5-2) might be in the best position because of its comeback win at Missouri last month. However, the Gamecocks need some help from Auburn this weekend. If the Tigers knock off Georgia and Missouri loses a game, South Carolina would win the East as long as it takes care of business Saturday against Florida.
Despite all the injuries, Georgia (6-3, 4-2) is still clinging to its chances of winning the East. But for the Bulldogs to return to Atlanta, they need an upset over Auburn, a win over Kentucky and for Missouri to lose its two remaining games. Crazier things have happened, but we’re not likely to see a rematch of last year’s SEC title game.