Friday, November 10, 2006

THE ROAD TO ... Atlanta

Well, last week we finally saw it. The long-dominant power placed back in its rightful place in charge.

Well, thank you for the salute ...

Actually, I'm talking about Florida, who clinched the SEC East and a return to the SEC championship game for the first time since the days when Steve Spurrier was a bad guy.

But the West has yet to be won. As usual, let's look first at where the contenders stand.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that both Mississippi teams and Alabama are all out of the running. It now comes down to Arkansas at 5-0 in the conference, Auburn at 5-1 (but with the loss coming to Arkansas) and LSU at 3-2.

Arkansas hosts Tennessee this weekend, travels to Mississippi State next week, and faces LSU in Little Rock on Nov. 25. If they win at least two of those games, they have the SEC West crown wrapped up, because the only other potential one-loss team in the division is Auburn.

Should they drop two of those games, Auburn re-enters the picture, even if LSU is one of the Arkansas losses. If Arkansas loses three and Auburn loses one, Auburn would still go to the championship even if LSU runs the table. Remember, Auburn won the "shootout" against they Bayou Bengals this year, giving them the tiebreaker.

Unless Auburn loses its last two conference games: A home showdown with Georgia this weekend and the road game against Alabama -- an always-dangerous rivalry game.

LSU, in the meantime, gets Alabama at home this week and Ole Miss at home next week before the Arkansas game. Essentially, LSU has to win out, hope Auburn loses its two games and Arkansas loses the Tennessee or Mississippi State game.

There are other complicated scenarios involving all three teams having two loses, but by the time I finished describing the byzantine tiebreakers used by the SEC -- which ultimately relies on the winner of a College Jeopardy! game involving the QBs of the three schools -- the division would have been clinched.

In other words, Arkansas is far out in front, Auburn is within striking distance and LSU is almost out of it.


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