Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE
This weekend's game goes a long way toward deciding the division champion. But there are still paths to victory for some of the other teams in the SEC West
Expect to hear a lot of talk that the game this weekend between Alabama and LSU will decide who represents the SEC West in the SEC Championship Game in December. And while that's true to an extent -- the winner will be the prohibit favorite to capture the division title -- it's not entirely so. There are still ways that as many as five of the seven teams in the SEC West could win the division, though some of them are improbable. We'll deal with the easiest and least convoluted ways for each team to make it to Atlanta; the SEC's tiebreaking procedures are so byzantine that we could spend months laying out each way each team could win the division.
This is pretty easy: As long as the Tide wins out, they will win the SEC West. And a win on Saturday would actually give them room to split their remaining games, against Texas A&M and Auburn, and still head to the Georgia Dome after the regular season; Alabama holds the tiebreaker against Mississippi State, the only other team in the SEC West with one loss.
The easiest way for LSU to get in is the same as Alabama: Win out. There are other routes even if the Tigers lose on Saturday, but they involve Alabama losing to A&M (possible) and Auburn (please stop laughing) while A&M wins out to set up a three-team tie with two losses. Mathematically, Saturday is not an elimination game for the Bengals, but it's all but one for practical purposes.
This is where teams start to need a lot of help. The Bulldogs need to win out and get two Alabama losses in just about any combination. It's hard if not impossible to find a tiebreaker scenario that allows the Western Division Bulldogs to overcome their loss to Alabama, so they need two losses by the Tide. They are still the team outside of Alabama and LSU best positioned to get to Atlanta -- if they can win.
The Aggies are behind the eight ball because of their losses to Florida and (more importantly) LSU. They need to win out, which includes knocking off Alabama
when the Tide comes to College Station in Tuscaloosa. Best of luck with that one, Aggies. TAMU also needs Alabama to pick up another loss somewhere and two LSU losses. So if the Bengals drop Bama this weekend, A&M needs two members of LSU's season-ending slate -- Mississippi State, Ole Miss or Arkansas -- to upset LSU.
The Rebels are technically still alive, with only two losses in conference play so far. They would likely need to win out -- which means defeating Georgia in Athens, Vanderbilt at home, LSU in Baton Rouge and then the Egg Bowl in Oxford -- and then get some help. Alabama would need to lose the remainder of its games; it's difficult to overcome the tiebreaker Alabama holds. The Rebels also need Texas A&M to lose at least once.