The SEC Championship Game in Atlanta has already locked in one challenger. Florida, champions of the SEC East, will play either Alabama or Ole Miss in the SEC Championship Game this season. That SEC West division will be settled between two of the best-nicknamed rivalries this weekend; the Iron Bowl and the Egg Bowl.
The last time Alabama visited Auburn, the college football world was treated to one of the most bizarre endings in recent college football history. A missed field goal try at the end of regulation by Alabama was returned the full length of the field by Auburn's Chris Davis to score a wild win for Auburn, hand the Tigers the SEC West and catapult Auburn into the SEC Championship Game and, later, the BCS National Championship Game. Alabama had been the clear favorite to win the SEC and national championship right up until that one, unique play. One should not expect such drama this weekend. Alabama, though not as strong as Alabama teams in the past, should be a decisive favorite on the road against Auburn, a team that fell well shy of preseason hype this season. Of course, in rivalry games you should also throw out the records and expect the unexpected. That said, Alabama looks like they will be clinching a spot in the SEC Championship Game. If they lose, however, that opens the door for Ole Miss.
As Alabama and Auburn are drawing to a close, Ole Miss will be in the early stages of this year's Egg Bowl with in-state rival Mississippi State. The Rebels need a win and an Alabama loss to win their first SEC West title since earning a share of the 2003 division crown. Ole Miss has yet to play in an SEC Championship Game and its last conference title was won in 1963. It has earned a head-to-head tiebreaker with Alabama though by handing the Crimson Tide their only loss of the season.
A second Alabama loss also would seemingly knock the SEC out of the College Football Playoff. It would not matter if that loss came this week or next. If Oklahoma or Oklahoma State wins the Big 12 with one loss, Iowa, Michigan State or Ohio State win the Big Ten with no losses or one loss, and Clemson holds on to the top spot, then the SEC looks to be sitting out. And that does not account for a potentially one-loss Notre Dame, which further complicates things for Alabama and the SEC. There are all things to pay attention to this week outside of the SEC footprint.
SEC Game of the Week: No. 12 Florida (10-1) vs. No. 13 Florida State (9-2)
The SEC East champion Gators host rival Florida State in the annual showdown between SEC and ACC foes. Florida's defense has played well and will have to focus on slowing down Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, which is typically much easier said than done. Florida State could send the Gators to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game hanging their heads, especially if the Gators offense plays the way it did last week against Florida Atlantic.
SEC Upset Alert of the Week: LSU (7-3) vs. Texas A&M (8-3)
It remains to be seen if this will mark the end of the road for Les Miles as head coach of the Tigers. Speculation continues to grow about LSU prepared to make a coaching change heading into 2016, so if that is actually the case then things could get ugly in a hurry. LSU is the favorite at home, but if Texas A&M has any offensive cohesiveness, the Aggies could hand a fourth straight loss to Les Miles on his way out.
Quick SEC Picks
Arkansas 30, Missouri 17
Georgia 23, Georgia Tech 20
Louisville 32, Kentucky 27
Clemson 38, South Carolina 13
Alabama 27, Auburn 17
Tennessee 23, Vanderbilt 10
Ole Miss 39, Mississippi State 36
Florida State 24, Florida 13
LSU 23, Texas A&M 20
Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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