The Missouri Tigers control their own destiny in the East, but they’ll do so without their veteran quarterback James Franklin. And it’s a very bad time to be without Franklin. The Florida Gators are next up for Mizzou and the following week they travel to play South Carolina. Suffice it to say, we’ll know in two weeks whether or not to keep talking about the Tigers. If the Tigers should make it through the next two weeks unscathed, they’ll get the Kentucky – Tennessee amen breeze corner before finishing with Ole Miss and Texas A&M. But if the Tigers can beat the Gators and Gamecocks, they can make it to Atlanta even if they stumble against the Black Bears or Aggies.
Florida only has one conference loss – coming last week against LSU – but they’ll need a significant injection of offense to make it through the rest of the season without several more losses. Georgia, Vanderbilt and South Carolina could beat the Gators – and that’s not even counting the season-ender with Florida State. In short, the Gators will have to fight hard to avoid a 7-5 or 8-4 season.
Georgia, despite all the talk of their demise, only has one conference loss, albeit an untimely one to Mizzou last week. The Dawgs are crippled up on offense and have a sorry defense, so it’s hard to expect them to make it through the rest of the season without at least one more loss. But then I turn to the schedule and realize Vandy, Florida and Auburn are the only conference teams left. Georgia has enough talent on their roster to beat all three of those teams, so don’t count them out.
South Carolina is quietly becoming one of the better teams in the country. I say quiet because the Gamecocks lost waaay back in week two to Georgia – that seems like an eternity ago – and we’ve finally stopped talking about Jadeveon Clowney. The ‘Cocks have conference games left against Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi State and Florida. Obviously, Missouri and Florida will be the only two challenges and I really believe they’ll win their remaining SEC games (before falling to Clemson).
In the West, we’re just waiting on November 9th and the Alabama – LSU game. The Tide should roll into this game 8-0 and the Tigers not far behind at 8-1.
If ‘Bama wins, only two foul ups in their final SEC games – against Mississippi State and Auburn, would prevent a second straight trip to Atlanta. That will not happen.
But if Alabama loses to LSU, don’t cancel the ATL reservations. The Tigers play Texas A&M on November 23rd in Baton Rouge and I can see the Aggies beating them in a Thanksgiving weekend shootout.
The Aggies only have one loss, but need ‘Bama to lose twice and need to beat LSU. It could happen, but that’s an extreme long shot.
So, how does this play out? In the East, right now, Carolina is the best team. They’ll run the table on their remaining conference games, UGA will lose one more and I expect Mizzou to lose at least twice more. In the West, regardless of what happens on November 9th, I think Texas A&M will beat LSU. So, regardless, ‘Bama goes to Atlanta.
That’s how I see it on October 16, 2013.