The regular season is almost done, and we know who's headed to the SEC Championship Game: Florida and Alabama. But there are still a few games involving SEC teams that could still end in upsets. A look at some games where the underdog has at least a fighting chance.
There are but a few examples where there's a sound, "on the field" reason for calling these upsets. But that's part of the point: Upsets happen when the numbers, the statistics, tell us that this team should win or that team should lose. Teams that are good this late in the season rarely lose to teams that are bad this late in the season for verifiable, on the field reasons. Upsets happen this late in the season because of hubris, indifference or pressure.
Note: The team listed first is considered the favorite.
LSU vs. Mississippi :: Either Jarrett Lee has confidence made of adamantium, or he's already doubting everything he's ever believed about how good a quarterback he is. Opposing defenses treat his passes like they're tip drills; his name has become synonymous with "pick-six." Meanwhile, LSU's defense is not that good, one reason both Georgia and Florida were able to put up 50 against the Bayou Bengals and a key cause for the near-meltdown against Troy this past weekend. And talk about consistency: Beginning with the Sept. 27 victory over Mississippi State, LSU's season has gone W, L, W, L, W, L, W. Looking for Xs and Os? Ole Miss ranks 3rd in the SEC in stopping the run. Good luck with that, Charles Scott and Co. Reality check: Mississippi hasn't defeated LSU since 2001. LIKELIHOOD OF UPSET: 55 percent
Alabama vs. Auburn :: It's hard to imagine a team coming into a game with more pressure than Alabama will face in this one. The national title will be on the line. Alabama sits at 11-0, while Auburn has crashed to a 5-6 record. Oh, and there's that whole "fear the opposite middle finger" thing. On the other hand, Auburn has absolutely no reason to feel any pressure at all, other than the chance to go to a bowl named after a household appliance and played in some midsized city with a wealthy Convention and Visitors Bureau. And consider this: In 12 seasons as a college head coach, Saban has never had an undefeated season. Not once. There are more than enough reasons to think Alabama could choke this one away. Reality check: Auburn's offense. LIKELIHOOD OF UPSET: 45 percent
Georgia vs. Georgia Tech :: After watching the 2006 Sugar Bowl, where West Virginia whacked Georgia upside the head with a shovel and then proceded to run up and down the field for the rest of the first half, it's hard for me to trust Georgia against any kind of option offense. (In fairness, Meyer's Spread is only 1-1 against the Dawgs.) But this game is dangerous for a couple of other reasons. First of all, Georgia Tech (7-3) is an ACC team, which means by definition we have no idea how good they are. Second, Georgia is winding down a disappointing year after coming into the season as a national title favorite, while Georgia Tech has been perhaps more successful than one would have thought given the fact that Paul Johnson is trying to run the triple-option with Chan Gailey's recruits. (Imagine Reggie Ball running the triple-option. When your head is done exploding, continue reading.) If the Jackets beat Miami -- and, in this ACC, anything's possible -- they could be a confident team heading into Athens. Reality check: Stafford, Moreno and all the other uninjured reasons Georgia was supposed to be No. 1 this year. LIKELIHOOD OF UPSET: 35 percent
LSU at Arkansas :: If Ole Miss doesn't get the Tigers, Arkansas just might. The Hogs' pass offense is second in the SEC, piling up 250.2 ypg. LSU's pass defense is 10th in the league, allowing 206.3 ypg. And both of these teams are prone to turnovers, meaning anything could happen to make this a close game. Reality check: Arkansas is dead last in the SEC in total defense, yielding 375.3 ypg. LIKELIHOOD OF UPSET: 30 percent
Vanderbilt vs. Tennessee, Kentucky at Tennessee :: These two games are confounding. Usually, the Vols circle both of these games as sure wins. This year, though, Tennessee is so awful that both Vanderbilt and Kentucky could actually be favored against the Great Pumpkin Farewell Tour. Vanderbilt actually has the better historic case here; they beat the Vols back during Fulmer's first truly bad season, the 5-6 campaign in 2005. Kentucky hasn't defeated Tennessee in its last 23 chances. Tennessee winning these games would be an upset, but the Vols' records against these two programs is so good that you can't count them out. Reality check: Tennessee is headed for its worst season. Ever. LIKELIHOOD OF UPSET: 20 percent