SEC West scenarios: How Alabama, LSU, and Ole Miss can win the division
We had all these expectations during the preseason of how the SEC West was going to play out. For the most part, all of those predictions are now in shambles.
With only four Saturdays left in the regular season, some division winners are starting to emerge. In the SEC East, early darkhorse Florida has all but locked up the top spot. The SEC West, however, is not as solidified even though it features the only remaining undefeated team in the conference.
Let’s examine who still has a chance of earning a trip to Atlanta by exploring the possible SEC West scenarios leading up to the end of the season:
ALABAMA WILL WIN IF…
The biggest game of Alabama’s season has become Saturday’s matchup against LSU, the SEC’s lone unbeaten. Forget the Iron Bowl, because if Alabama loses to LSU its chances of making it to the SEC Championship are slim to none.
A loss to the Tigers would put the Tide at 4-2 in the conference. Alabama would then have to pray that LSU loses the last three games of its season and Ole Miss loses two more. To have both happen seems highly unlikely.
If Alabama beats LSU, the Tide, Tigers, and Rebels would all be tied with a one loss in conference play. Assuming all three teams win the rest of the games on their schedule, the winner of the division will come down to LSU at Ole Miss on Nov. 21. Alabama goes to Atlanta if LSU hands Ole Miss its second conference loss of the season. The Tide will be rooting hard for LSU, since Ole Miss holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Bama.
LSU WILL WIN IF…
We hate to use the cliche, but we’re going to. The Tigers control their own destiny and it starts with a win on Saturday against the Crimson Tide. If that happens, Alabama would be eliminated from the race and the only team left in the way would be Ole Miss. If LSU beats them in their head-to-head matchup on Nov. 21, the Tigers can start packing for Atlanta.
It sounds straightforward, but LSU has to be extremely careful. Even with a perfect record, there is no room for future error. If LSU loses to Alabama, they won’t go to Atlanta even if they beat Ole Miss unless Alabama loses one more game against either Mississippi State or Auburn. If LSU beats Alabama but loses to Ole Miss, they won’t go to Atlanta either unless Ole Miss loses its last game to Mississippi State.
Basically, LSU can afford to lose one game during the rest of its season, as long as that loss is not to Alabama or Ole Miss. But that’s not a risk they should be willing to take.
OLE MISS WILL WIN IF…
Much like LSU, Ole Miss also controls its own fate in the SEC West thanks to its September victory over Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Ole Miss has just the one conference loss (at Florida) and can go to Atlanta for the first time ever by running the table.
However, Ole Miss is walking on a tightrope. The Rebels have to win out. They have to beat Arkansas this week and Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, or the LSU showdown becomes moot.
That early Alabama win is huge. Everyone will be watching LSU-Alabama Saturday night, but the outcome doesn’t really matter to the Rebels. Winning the division is still going to come down to the Rebels also beating LSU.
There is still a lot of football to be played. The above scenarios all operate under the assumption that all three teams will win their remaining conference games not involving each other. If any other SEC West team decides to play spoiler, the situation may get clearer or more complicated.
Either way, the SEC West is going to be a battle to the finish line. Even two-loss teams like Texas A&M, Arkansas and Mississippi State are still technically alive. Only Auburn has been eliminated from the SEC West race