Hello, Rivalry Week. It’s great to see you.

It’s not great to see the last regular season weekend of the college football calendar. I won’t sit here and tell you it’s a good thing that our Saturdays of football are winding down.

I will, however, tell you that this year’s Rivalry Week in the SEC will hit a bit differently. It’s not just that it’s the final year of this era of the SEC before Texas and Oklahoma join. It’s that we have storylines and stakes galore.

Here are the 5 SEC things that I’m looking forward to the most:

1. Even after Auburn fell apart against New Mexico State, the Iron Bowl is still much better than I/all of us thought it’d be in early October

Cheers to that.

Even if this game ends up being a blowout, I’ll appreciate a few things. Whether the masses want to admit it, Alabama showing up as a juggernaut is a more entertaining buildup than if the Tide had 3-4 losses like some predicted in the preseason. Shoot, some predicted that after the USF mess.

Jalen Milroe looks like someone who has grown tremendously in the past 2 months, and so too has Tommy Rees’ understanding of how to build an offense around his skill set. Seeing what this version of Milroe can do in a hostile atmosphere like that will be appointment viewing.

Yes, Auburn lost an opportunity to have an even more incredible atmosphere if it could’ve simply not puked on its shoes against New Mexico State. But at the same time, it’s still the Iron Bowl. If the Tigers sprint out to an early lead like they did against Georgia, nobody will be thinking about how horrendously awful that loss was.

Weird things happen in the Iron Bowl. Ten years removed from the Kick … never mind. You know where I’m going with that.

2. Will Florida spoil Florida State’s Playoff dreams?

I’ve had this one circled on the calendar since July. It’s circled in red 5 times over now knowing what’s on the line.

The injury to Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis means that backup quarterback Tate Rodemaker will be tasked with keeping the Seminoles’ Playoff hopes alive in Gainesville. Florida, on the other hand, will be competing to keep its bowl hopes alive after losing the past 4 games. It’ll be a battle of backups after the collar bone injury to Graham Mertz, who left Saturday’s loss at Mizzou with what Billy Napier called a non-displaced collarbone fracture.

That’s about the only current similarity between the Sunshine State programs.

It’s wild to think that FSU still hasn’t lost a game since these teams met a year ago. That’s how drastically Mike Norvell turned things around. Florida, on the other hand, continued to come up short against quality competition by squandering a late comeback at Mizzou. A big part of that is the depleted Florida defense, which allowed at least 33 points in each of its past 5 games.

Can Florida play spoiler? Or will it squander another golden opportunity to take down a top-10 team? If there was ever a time for Napier to pull a rabbit out of his hat, now is it.

3. Jayden Daniels putting the exclamation point on a Heisman Trophy campaign … ?

I’m here for it.

To be clear, Brian Kelly has every right to leave Daniels in late to pad those stats and boost his case for the Heisman. If he can get to 50 touchdowns pre-Heisman ceremony — he’s at 46 total scores after an 8-touchdown game against Georgia State — that type of feat would make a lasting impression through conference championship weekend. Like, a conference championship weekend in which LSU won’t be playing.

The 4 21st century Heisman winners of 3-loss teams — 2007 Tim Tebow, 2011 Robert Griffin III, 2016 Lamar Jackson, 2022 Caleb Williams — all came up short of winning a conference title. Daniels doesn’t have to follow that arc. He can, however, help his case by getting every blade of grass available against an A&M team that fired Jimbo Fisher.

And while I’m not advocating/suggesting/assuming that anyone will opt out of a bowl game, let’s appreciate Daniels in the final regular season game of his unbelievably impressive college career.

4. South Carolina’s bowl berth is on the line against Clemson

How about that?

Once again, Shane Beamer’s team is playing its best ball in November. Three consecutive wins — all at Williams-Brice — now have the Gamecocks fighting for a bowl berth in an all-or-nothing game against Clemson. That feels right. Granted, a 2-6 start was what preceded it. That wasn’t ideal.

But all South Carolina could’ve asked for was a shot at the postseason. It’ll get that against a Clemson squad that is amid a late-season turnaround of its own. The Tigers are also rocking a 3-game winning streak, including a convincing win against a UNC squad that dominated South Carolina back in Week 1.

Beamer will head into Saturday rocking a 6-1 record at home in November. The lone loss? Two years ago against Clemson. Will history repeat itself? There’ll be plenty of eyes on Saturday night in Columbia.

5. I’ll forever love the Egg Bowl

I know. It’s a lost season for Mississippi State. The Zach Arnett era lasted just 10 games, and you have an interim coach in Greg Knox trying to earn bowl eligibility. Ole Miss had its slim Playoff path blocked off at Georgia, so that’s not on the table, either.

But having 1 team fighting for bowl eligibility and another fighting for a New Year’s 6 bowl is still some significant stakes.  Plus, this is the Egg Bowl. “Weird” is the name of the game.

You cannot tell me that there are 5 college football rivalries better than this one. There’s nothing better than letting an epic day of food settle and watching these 2 teams battle it out in a game that’ll inevitably go sideways. A brawl? A fake dog pee celebration? A postgame shouting match with coaches? That’s all just in the Playoff era alone.

Bless this beautiful rivalry.