Has the West been won? All scenarios for someone other than Auburn winning the SEC West now begin with the phrase "If Auburn loses to Georgia ... " Stop right there and ask yourself how likely that actually is before you shrug off the likelihood that the Tigers have now sewn up the divisional title. And give Kirk Herstreit credit for being one of the first to suggest with a straight face that Auburn might be a contender for the national title. Of course, Alabama still has plenty to pay for, as there would be no consolation prize quite so sweet for the Tide a denying Auburn a chance to play for its first BCS championship. But that will likely be the only thing at stake when the Tigers visit Tuscaloosa at the end of the month.
South Carolina vs. Florida: Who ya got? In retrospect, Arkansas was clearly the better team than South Carolina, though I suppose the more optimistic Gamecock fans among us could argue that it's unlikely the margin would be whatever it was Saturday night. (If you think the margin in that game was 21 points, you didn't actually watch it.) Just to be absolutely clear: I am not one of those fans. I might be in a few weeks, but the Razorbacks thoroughly demolished South Carolina in every aspect of the game. They might have only really won by 21 points again, or maybe 17, but it seems unlikely that the two teams that met were actually the coin-flip that most of us thought in the run-up to the game. Then again, keep in mind: Steve Addazio is still the offensive coordinator at Florida. There aren't many reasons for hope among Gamecocks fans, but that's one of them.
Are Les Miles and Gary Crowton safe? Say whatever you want about the beleaguered head coach and offensive coordinator, they now stand a pretty good chance at getting an at-large berth in the BCS. A few bounces of the ball here or there, and they could end up representing the SEC West in Atlanta and even playing for the crystal football in January. LSU rang up 433 yards of total offense against the Tide on Saturday, Jordan Jefferson's QB rating topped 190, and the Bengals had more than 200 yards passing for only the third time this season. After a season of seeming completely adrift, the LSU offense actually looked ... competent. Good, even. There are certainly more conventional ways to make yourself a BCS bowl contestant, but no school is more befitting of unconventional means than LSU.
Where does Alabama go now? We know that the Tide are going to win at least eight games -- there is no chance that they'll lose to first-year FCS team Georgia State. But at least one Mississippi State fan is already thinking upset after the Tide's latest set back. Thing is, I can't say that the thought is completely crazy. The Western Division Bulldogs are a good team this year, they of course have the traditional pre-Alabama bye week, and there's no doubt that Nick Bell will be the kind of emotional inspiration that can propel a team to play out of its collective mind. Meanwhile, Alabama has to be facing a little bit of doubt after losing the same number of games this year that the Tide lost in the last two seasons.
Who does the Capital One Bowl take? Don your citrus-colored blazers and survey the following teams: Alabama, Arkansas and the South Carolina-Florida winner. (We're going to put LSU in the Sugar Bowl for now.) So you have a dispirited but loyal fan base, the 2010 answer to last year's Ole Miss team and the worst SEC division winner in years. Of course, a South Carolina team would be riding an unparalleled wave of fan optimism and a Florida team would give you a ton of fans in close proximity to your town. If you think another team is going to end up in Orlando, feel free to say so.