Breaking down the scenarios to win the SEC East
Another wild Saturday of college football created some interesting possibilities in the SEC East division race.
In theory, each team still has a chance to reach 4-4. The reality is everybody can’t finish 4-4 because the bottom teams still play each other.
Therefore, Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee have the best chance to win the East. South Carolina is a long shot. Georgia can still get to 4-4 but wouldn’t own a tiebreaker edge to win the division.
It’s possible, but extremely unlikely, that all five finish 4-4. If that happens, the SEC’s divisional tiebreak rules would come into effect.
“Three-Team Tie (or more): If three teams (or more) are tied for a division title, the following procedure will be used in the following order: (Note: If one of the procedures results in one team being eliminated and two remaining, the two-team tiebreaker procedure as stated in No. 1 above will be used):
Combined head to head record among the tied teams;
Record of the tied teams within the division;
Head to head competition against the team within the division with the best overall Conference record (divisional and non-divisional) and proceeding through the division (multiple ties within the division will be broken from first to last and a tie for first place will be broken before a tie for fourth place);
Overall Conference record against non-divisional teams;
Combined record against all common non-divisional teams;
Record against the common non-divisional team with the best overall Conference record (divisional and non-divisional) and proceeding through other common non-divisional teams based on their order of finish within their division; and
Best cumulative Conference winning percentage of non-divisional opponents
Coin flip of the tied teams with the team with the odd result being the representative”
One more Florida or Kentucky win — or South Carolina loss — eliminates South Carolina and turns this into a three-team race. That’s the most likely scenario.
Here’s a rundown of how Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee or South Carolina could win this year’s chase for the division.
Florida Gators (6-1, 4-1 SEC)
The Gators control their destiny but face a daunting path to the finish. Following Saturday’s victory over Georgia, Florida is 4-1 in SEC play but has three big conference games remaining. Still, the Gators are close to locking up the SEC East for the second year in a row.
Still to play: at Arkansas, vs. South Carolina, at LSU.
Florida wins East if:
- It wins all three remaining SEC games.
- It wins two SEC games and claims division because of a head-to-head tiebreaker with Kentucky.
- It wins one more SEC game, and Kentucky and Tennessee each lose at least one game.
- Kentucky and Tennessee each lose two more games.
Kentucky Wildcats (5-3, 4-2)
The Wildcats are in second place in the SEC East, which is surprising considering the team’s 0-2 start. Kentucky has won three consecutive SEC games, but has two tough matchups ahead against Georgia and Tennessee. At this point, though, the Wildcats are very much in play to win their first division title in school history but they have to win it outright. They don’t hold any tiebreaker advantages.
Still to play: vs. Georgia, at Tennessee
Kentucky wins East if:
- Kentucky wins remaining SEC games and Florida loses at least two SEC games.
- Kentucky beats Tennessee and Florida loses remaining SEC games.
- Kentucky beats Georgia, Tennessee loses to either Missouri or Vanderbilt and Florida loses remaining SEC games.
Tennessee Volunteers (5-3, 2-3)
Tennessee’s disappointing loss at South Carolina might have sealed its fate in the division, but there is still a sliver of hope. The win over Florida earlier this season looms large for tiebreak purposes if it comes down to that.
(If Tennessee beats Kentucky, that also would make the Vols 2-0 in the first three-team tiebreaker. If Kentucky beats Tennessee, however, all three would be 1-1, and the tiebreaker would move to the next step.)
Still to play: vs. Kentucky, vs. Missouri, at Vanderbilt
Tennessee wins East if:
- Tennessee beats Kentucky and wins one other SEC game, and Florida and Kentucky lose remaining SEC games.
- Tennessee wins remaining SEC games and Florida and Kentucky lose remaining SEC games.
South Carolina (4-4, 2-4)
The Gamecocks are the most unlikely team still in the race. They’d have to sweep Missouri and Florida (in the Swamp) to get to 4-4 in the SEC, but if they do so, they’d be 4-2 in the division with a head-to-head advantage over Florida and Tennessee.
If the Gamecocks finish in a three-team tie with Florida and Kentucky, they would hold the tiebreaker edge over Florida and be headed to Atlanta.
Similarly, if the Gamecocks finish in a four-team tie with Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee, they again hold the tiebreakers over Florida and Tennessee and would go to Atlanta.
Everything has to go right, though. Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee have to lose their remaining SEC games, and South Carolina has to win its.