SEC West: 5 games that will decide who reaches SEC Championship Game
The SEC schedule is set.
Everybody will play 10 games instead of the usual 8. There won’t be any outsiders to get in the way.
It’s SEC vs. SEC – all the time from Sept. 26 through Dec. 5.
How cool is that?
The conference let us know all of the particulars Monday night
Will defending national champion LSU win the West? Will perennial Playoff championship contender Alabama unseat the Tigers? Will another set of Tigers, the ones from Auburn, take the West?
Those are the usual suspects in the West.
But what about others?
Does Jimbo Fisher have Texas A&M ready to ascend to the top of the West in his 3rd season as head coach? Can new head coaches at Mississippi State (Mike Leach), Ole Miss (Lane Kiffin) and Arkansas (Sam Pittman) create a surprise?
Probably not. But we’ll see.
Here are the 5 games that we think will decide the SEC West in 2020:
Week 2, Oct. 3 – Auburn at Georgia
The crossover games sometimes don’t get the attention that head-to-head games between West rivals get because they don’t pin both a win and a loss on West competitors and they don’t affect head-to-head tiebreakers.
But any time an SEC team plays Georgia, it’s a big threat to its conference record. Both teams have just 1 game to get ready for this showdown and new Auburn offensive coordinator Chad Morris will try out his system on Kentucky before going Between the Hedges.
Week 4, Oct. 17 – Georgia at Alabama
The Bulldogs (who also play Mississippi State and Arkansas) have multiple chances to leave their fingerprints on the West race.
This will be a heavyweight battle, as it always is, but the Crimson Tide will have plenty of time to recover if they don’t beat Georgia.
This game was originally scheduled in Week 2. The prevailing thought was that that benefitted the Tide because it limited the reps Georgia’s new quarterback would have learning Todd Monken’s new offense. Now, the Dawgs have 3 games to round into shape.
Week 8, Nov. 14 – Alabama at LSU
Now this is more like it, SEC West vs. SEC West. In November. Even though this game takes place fairly late in the conference schedule every year, both teams usually enter it with division title hopes because of the opportunity to hand the other a loss and win the head-to-head tie-breaker.
This year should be no different. Alabama is No. 3 and LSU is No. 5 in the coaches preseason poll. Tua Tagovailoa won’t be quarterbacking the Tide and Joe Burrow won’t be quarterbacking the Tigers.
But there will be plenty of all-conference and All-America players on both sides of the ball. There will be plenty of future NFL players on both teams.
Both teams have a bye week to prepare or recover.
It will be what it always is – a championship-caliber matchup that produces a winner that probably will be in the driver’s seat in the West heading into the stretch run.
Week 10, Nov. 28 – LSU at Texas A&M
Maybe this game won’t have an impact on the West race. Maybe it will.
We’ll certainly know much sooner. Texas A&M plays Alabama and Florida in Weeks 2 and 3, respectively. Logic suggests the Aggies will need to at least split.
If the Aggies are still in it and are going to have a real shot at winning this thing, this Week 10 matchup against LSU be a huge game for them. They will follow this game with a game at Auburn in the regular-season finale. Even if A&M isn’t in the thick of the race on Thanksgiving weekend, this game could have significant implications for the Tigers.
Week 10, Nov. 28 – Auburn at Alabama
It’s the Iron Bowl. It will be played like a championship game regardless of the teams’ record or the fact that it isn’t in its typical spot as the regular-season finale. But there’s a good chance that this game will have an impact on who wins the SEC West.
It might even be a head-to-head battle between the last two teams standing.