How the SEC East Will Be Won ... By Someone. Eventually

So, what does your team have to do to get to the SEC Championship Game? That question is especially important in the wide-open SEC East, which featured six teams technically in contention at the beginning of the year but now features ... six teams technically in contention. Yes, that includes Vanderbilt.

As near as I can tell, these are the paths to the title bout in Atlanta for each team in the East. (The West is coming later.) The important thing to note is that only South Carolina and Florida control their own destinies. Which also means they can make this whole thing a lot easier by winning out, something that looks unlikely from an historical perspective with South Carolina and from a current perspective with Florida.

One caveat: I think I have run through every scenario, but it's possible that I missed one. That could make a difference in a league with as many tiebreakers as the SEC, particularly in a division as uneven as the East has been this year. (I know, I'm being kind.) Again, I'm pretty sure I got everything. But I would welcome any feedback in the comments that proves me wrong.

The scenarios, with the teams presented in order of the current SEC East standings:

South Carolina Gamecocks (5-2, 3-2 SEC): The simplest path for South Carolina is, of course, to win out. If the Gamecocks can sweep Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida, they'll go 6-2 and have a better record than anyone else in the division no matter what else happens. It gets even easier if Florida loses to Georgia this weekend or at Vanderbilt. At that point, the Gamecocks only need to win two of their last three to become SEC East champions. If Florida wins this weekend and at Vanderbilt, we're going all the way to Gainesville no matter what happens. Going even further down the road of imagination: Georgia defeats Florida but loses to Auburn. The Gamecocks need to only win one more game to go to Atlanta.

Georgia Bulldogs (4-4, 3-3 SEC): The key for the Dawgs, of course, is to avoid a tiebreaker with the only division team that has beaten them so far: South Carolina. If Georgia wins against Florida and at Auburn, they need South Carolina to lose two of its remaining three games. If Georgia defeats Florida and loses to Auburn, they need South Carolina to do its usual swan dive to finish at 3-5. Or there's one truly bizarre scenario that has Georgia going 4-4 (def. Florida, lose to Auburn) along with South Carolina (def. Tennessee or Arkansas, lose to Florida and Tennessee or Arkansas) and Florida (def. South Carolina and Vanderbilt, lose to Georgia) and winning on the second tiebreaker. By the way, if the Gamecocks defeat Tennessee under this scenario, the thing that will knock them out of the running is their loss to Kentucky.

Florida Gators (4-3, 2-3 SEC): The first order of business is to defeat Georgia and Vanderbilt to force a winner-take-all game against South Carolina. Florida can lose the Vanderbilt game if South Carolina loses at least one of its games against Tennessee and Arkansas; that would again set up the de facto SEC East title bout in Gainesville. But that's taking a lot of chances.

Vanderbilt Commodores (2-6, 1-3 SEC): Believe it or not, Vanderbilt is not out of this thing. If they run the table against Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee, the Commodores need South Carolina to lose two of its remaining three games and Georgia to lose one of its remaining two games to win the division.

Kentucky Wildcats (4-4, 1-4 SEC): This is where things start to get a bit convoluted. If Kentucky goes undefeated against Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Tennessee, they still need a lot of help. They need Georgia to lose both of its remaining games, Florida to lose two out of three and South Carolina to lose two out of three. That would result in either a tie between Kentucky and South Carolina at 4-4 or -- in the most bizarre world that could ever exist -- a 4-4 tie between Kentucky, South Carolina ... and Vanderbilt?!? Kentucky wins by having the best record among the three teams.

Tennessee Volunteers (4-4, 0-4 SEC): First, the Vols have to run the table against South Carolina, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. If that happens, the Vols need to avoid tiebreakers involving Florida and Georgia -- the two teams in the East that they lost to. If South Carolina defeats Florida but loses to Arkansas, that leaves South Carolina and Tennessee tied at 4-4. By virtue of the head-to-head win, the Vols move on to Atlanta.

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