- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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By the end of the night, we could almost certainly know who will win the SEC Eastern Division.
It won't officially be locked up, but if No. 5 Missouri (7-0, 3-0 SEC) tops No. 21 South Carolina (5-2, 3-2) in Columbia, Mo., today, the Tigers will have a commanding three-game lead over the rest of the division. With Mizzou's remaining schedule, that would basically be an insurmountable lead for the rest of the division.
But can the Tigers play three straight elite games against the East's perceived heavyweights? The game is at home, which will help, and the Tigers are averaging more than 500 yards and 44 points per game. Backup quarterback Maty Mauk is fresh off throwing for 295 yards on Florida's top-rated defense, and the Gamecocks are looking to bounce back from a heartbreaking 23-21 loss to Tennessee.
Still, if South Carolina wins, the Gamecocks have an easier road to Atlanta than the Tigers. With Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas A&M still on the schedule for Mizzou, the Tigers can't afford to lose this one.
In Tuscaloosa, No. 1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0) is looking to stay unbeaten with a confident Tennessee (4-3, 1-2) coming to town. In a rivalry game that has been plenty one-sided in favor of the Tide since 2006, Alabama knows that with college football the way it is this year, it can't afford a loss to the Vols. When it comes to these two teams, the talent difference is immense, but Alabama hasn't been challenged at all since its 49-42 win over Texas A&M. In fact, Alabama has only given up 16 points in the five games since and averaged 40.2 points per game in the process, so there's a chance the Vols could challenge Bama early.
Then there's No. 16 Texas A&M's home game with Vanderbilt (4-3, 1-3). The Aggies (5-2, 2-2) are coming off a 45-41 upset loss to Auburn and Johnny Manziel is dealing with a painful shoulder injury. It's clear that he won't be 100 percent today, but you know that if he can go -- in any sort of condition -- he'll jog right out onto Kyle Field against the Commodores.
And the Aggies have no business overlooking Vandy. The Commodores upset Georgia last week and have an offense, which against Texas A&M means the Commodores have a great chance of scoring. Vandy is averaging 33 points a game, while the Aggies are giving up 33 points and almost 500 yards a game. Something has to chance defensively, or no quarterback will be able to help the Aggies.
Here's the entire SEC lineup for today:
Vanderbilt at Texas A&M, 12:21 p.m. ET, SEC TV
Tennessee at Alabama, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
South Carolina at Missouri, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Furman at LSU, 7 p.m. ET, PPV
Florida Atlantic at Auburn, 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN
Idaho at Ole Miss, 7:30 p.m. ET, CSS