Four SEC teams still have trips to Atlanta on the line heading into the final weekend, and Mike Slive couldn’t have written a better script for 2013 if he tried. Two unexpected teams in Auburn and Mizzou will try to shock the SEC by getting to Atlanta, while Alabama still sits in the driver’s seat for the entire country. South Carolina needs Mizzou to lose to Texas A&M Saturday to punch their ticket to the promise land.
Let’s roll right into Rivalry Week…
1. Alabama (11-0, 7-0)
Alabama coasted through Chattanooga without tipping its hand to Auburn on anything. The Tide can sew up an SEC West Championship Saturday in the Iron Bowl, but it won’t be easy. Going to Jordan-Hare in front of a rabid crowd is a tough position to be in. Add to it that Auburn is the #4 team in the country and is well within a national championship berth, and things get even tougher.
The chess match between Gus Malzahn and Nick Saban will be fun to watch. Will this be Alabama’s toughest game?
Ranked wins: #21 Texas A&M, #17 LSU
Key games remaining: at #4 Auburn
Related: Iron Bowl preview
2. Missouri (10-1, 6-1)
Missouri makes the jump to No. 2 this week in the power rankings, and they look like the second most complete SEC team. They limited Ole Miss, who managed several straight 500-yard games, to just 10 points and 378 yards. Missouri didn’t have to light up the passing game because they didn’t need to, and they’re a much different and more efficient team with James Franklin at quarterback.
Still, some knock Mizzou, saying they have no wins over any currently ranked BCS opponents. But I’m here to say they’re for real, and they are a legit national championship contender and are winning with all three phases of the game, including dominating the turnover margin. They have a chance to silence everyone this weekend with an SEC East Division clinching win over Texas A&M.
Ranked wins: None
Key games remaining: #21 Texas A&M
3. Auburn (10-1, 6-1)
Auburn drops to No. 3 in the power rankings for week 13 following the bye week. Auburn still has the most dominant rushing attack in the SEC and one of the best in college football, but they’re going to have to be more balanced against Alabama. Gus Malzahn knows this; he’s no dummy. He just may be the National Coach of the Year.
Things got real two weekends ago with Georgia when the Tigers almost let one slip away, and it gets even tougher this week against Alabama Saturday. It’s setting up to be an epic showdown.
Ranked wins: #21 Texas A&M
Key games remaining: #1 Alabama
4. South Carolina (9-2, 6-2)
South Carolina has another opportunity to put up a statement against Clemson and continue their winning streak over the Tigers. The Gamecocks need Mizzou to lose in order to get to Atlanta, and a BCS bowl berth is still well in the mix.
The Gamecocks have two nice wins against UCF and Missouri, but the Tennessee loss will haunt Steve Spurrier and his club. It’s turning out to be a worse loss every week. But Mizzou is turning out to be a better win every week, too.
Ranked wins: #19 UCF, #5 Missouri
Key games remaining:#6 Clemson
5. LSU (8-3, 4-3)
LSU dismantled Johnny Manziel and the Aggies’ explosive offense, limiting them to just 10 points and making Manziel throw two picks. Where has that LSU defense been all season? It was a big-time performance overall that moves LSU back into the Big 5, jumping the Aggies for the coveted slot.
Things get much easier this week against Arkansas, and the Tigers should finish with nine regular season wins and shooting for No. 10 in the bowl game. The Tigers’ win against #4 Auburn looks more impressive every week.
Ranked wins: #4 Auburn, #21 Texas A&M
Key games remaining: NR Arkansas
Note: Rankings reflect BCS rankings
The rest of the pack:
6. Texas A&M
8. Ole Miss
10. Mississippi State
Photo Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports