Has Mark Richt lost control of his undefeated season?
Want to know how the SEC will turn out week-by-week before it happens? Don't we all. So we hooked up the closest thing college football fans have to a time machine and will simulate each week of the season using EA's NCAA Football '13. Please keep in mind that it's all in good fun and we're not saying this is how it actually will happen. Though that would be pretty cool and a little bit eery.
It's rivalry week across the SEC, with such thrilling rivalries as Georgia-Georgia Tech, the Iron Bowl ... and Vanderbilt-Wake Forest. Hey, they're both private schools with black and gold color schemes, and Tennessee has to play Kentucky this week, so it'll have to do. Oh, and the Western Division championship is still to be decided.
GEORGIA 35, GEORGIA TECH 21
The Dawgs win the game efficiently, running just 48 plays to 80 for Georgia Tech but using a handful of big plays to defeat the Yellow Jackets and move on to the SEC Championship Game with the undefeated season and the No. 1 ranking still intact. Georgia gets outgained and watches Tech convert more first downs, but all that matters is the score.
MISSOURI 51, TEXAS A&M 24
In the first SEC meeting of the two newcomers, Missouri decides to dash Texas A&M's hopes of winning the SEC West. The Tigers drop 28 on the Aggies in the second quarter, no doubt helped out by some of A&M's four interceptions. It is more of a Big 12-style game than an SEC meeting; the teams combine for 905 yards of total offense and, of course, the 75 points. Missouri runs 45 for 217 yards, which is likely related to the 38-14 halftime lead. Texas A&M now needs an Alabama win in the Iron Bowl to go to Atlanta.
AUBURN 21, ALABAMA 7
Not going to happen. Auburn scores 14 before Bama dents the scoreboard and goes to Atlanta for the second time in three years. Oh, and the Tigers get another shot at ending arch-rival Georgia's perfect season. As for the Iron Bowl, it's about as close as it looks on the scoreboard. Auburn makes twice as many first downs, outgains Alabama 399-278 and allows the Tide to convert just two of its 14 third downs.
ARKANSAS 48, LSU 21
JohnL Smith, who's likely not coming back with a 9-3 record in the regular season, decides to torch the stadium behind him as he leaves. The Hogs score 27 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to turn a tie game into a rout. That includes a touchdown pass with 31 seconds to go and Arkansas up 41-21. I can't wait until next year's simulated game.
CLEMSON 38, SOUTH CAROLINA 24
If you needed any proof that I'm not rigging this thing, here it is. South Carolina takes a 14-0 lead in the first quarter but then watches it evaporate, first to a 17-17 tie at the half and then to a Clemson lead in the third quarter that the Tigers never lose. The Gamecocks might be lucky to score as often as they do; South Carolina crosses the Clemson 20-yard line once in the game. It looks like South Carolina is back to being "just South Carolina," ending the season at the familiar mark of 7-5.
FLORIDA STATE 20, FLORIDA 19
Which also happens to be where Florida ends up after losing to its cross-state ACC rival. The Seminoles score 13 in the fourth quarter and need just 192 yards of total offense to win the game. Again, four turnovers by Florida are the story as much as anything else. That, and the red-zone efficiency by FSU, which cashes in both of its trips inside the Florida 20. There's also the matter of Will Muschamp deciding to go for two up 19-7 in the fourth quarter.
TENNESSEE 45, KENTUCKY 3
The winning streak is dead. Long live the winning streak. Tennessee scores 28 in the first quarter and then coasts to anotehr win over Kentucky, which gains only 247 yards in the defeat. The Vols, meanwhile, generate 494 yards of total offense to put their final record at 8-4 and maybe, just maybe save Derek Dooley's job for another season.
MISSISSIPPI STATE 27, OLE MISS 22
Despite some interesting upsets and what most of us would probably consider a surprise season, the Rebels will be home for the holidays after State runs for 184 yards and a touchdown on 39 rushing attempts to win the Egg Bowl. State might improve its bowl stock by a tick with the win.
WAKE FOREST 45, VANDERBILT 14
James Franklin (VU) will not open his career by taking the Dores to a bowl game in each of his first two seasons. Instead, Wake generates 402 yards to 251 for Vanderbilt, which also turns the ball over twice. This makes the SEC 1-3 against the ACC on the day, in case you're keeping track.
*Denotes clinched division
2 Ohio State
16 Texas A&M
22 South Carolina
NOTE: There's an extra week inserted by EA between the end of the season and the SEC Championship Game; I went ahead and skipped that week before doing the BCS standings.