Alabama, Auburn and LSU have combined to win six of the last 11 national championships.

Texas A&M’s recruiting classes the last two years, in addition to Kevin Sumlin’s proven offensive system, make the Aggies a threat to pierce those three powerhouses. (Of note, A&M — picked sixth in the SEC West by several media entities — crushed SEC East favorite South Carolina, 52-28, on Thursday night.)

Ole Miss and Mississippi State are feisty, with many predicting eight-plus wins this season for both schools in spite of the ridiculous schedules.

Arkansas… well, other than a rogue Vegas handicapper, no one expects the Hogs to do much.

Overall, it’s a brutal division. Someone has to finish sixth (sorry Arkansas). But not all schedules are created equal. Let’s take a look at the schedule factor as it relates to the SEC West pecking order this season.

Alabama vs. Auburn

The Tigers could have a better team than they did in 2013 with an improved defense and still finish with three losses. Auburn must contend with five losable road games, including a Thursday night at Kansas State.

Auburn’s lone regular-season loss last season came against LSU. Expect Gus Malzahn’s team to expend a lot of energy in the revenge game this season. The Tigers then must go on the road to face Mississippi State, which Saturday Down South’s Vegas expert Brian Edwards thinks could be the most underrated team in the conference this year.

Auburn also must travel to Georgia and Alabama — can anyone recall what happened in those games last season? — in addition to playing Ole Miss on the road. They also get a young, talented Texas A&M team in November, when the Aggies have had an entire season to develop. Oh, and the team has to play South Carolina as well.

Meanwhile, the Tide gets an open date before each of its two toughest road games, at Ole Miss and at LSU. The team gets Florida, Mississippi State and Auburn at home. And its second SEC East opponent is Tennessee.

“It’s hard not to pick Alabama in the West because they’ve got the easiest path by far, and it’s not even close,” Edwards said.

LSU counted out?

“I feel like a lot of people are writing off LSU this year. When you look at websites and who’s predicted to win the West, you don’t see anybody talking about LSU. I think that’s a little ridiculous,” Edwards said.

History is on his side. The Tigers have won double-digit games in seven of nine seasons under coach Les Miles. The team returns seven starters on a defense that allowed 22.0 points per game despite the 44-point anomaly in the shootout against Georgia early in the season. And Leonard Fournette, the No. 1 recruit in the country, is a luxury, as the team boasts a good offensive line. (Third back Kenny Hilliard scored three touchdowns in one quarter in the 2011 SEC Championship.)

“I think everybody thinks Alabama-Auburn 1-2 in the West,” Edwards said. “I think Mississippi State and Ole Miss are very legit this year. It feels like everybody’s kind of sleeping on LSU and Les Miles loves that.”

 Battle for Mississippi

Mississippi State has a few advantages this season, namely a stout defense and Dak Prescott.

Said Edwards: “Prescott had a great year last year, but he was injured. His mother passed away the week of the Texas A&M game. Now he’s healthy. He’s a beast, man. He ran for 13 touchdowns.”

In addition to four of the worst non-conference foes you’ll see collectively on an SEC schedule for years to come (Southern Miss, UAB, South Alabama, Tennessee-Martin), the Bulldogs get Arkansas and Vanderbilt at home, possibly as double-digit favorites. They play at Kentucky and against Texas A&M after open dates and the team is capable of winning the Egg Bowl at Ole Miss.

Edwards thinks Mississippi State could surprise Auburn this season, suggesting over the 7.5-win total in Vegas as a strong play, and has Ole Miss pegged for nine wins.

“The key for Mississippi State and Ole Miss is staying healthy. I think they’re gaining ground on the top dogs in terms of the matchups of your first-stringers on your first-stringers,” Edwards said. “Where Alabama, Auburn and LSU have the advantage is that they’re deeper.”