The Battle for the SEC West: In a Chaotic Finale, the Tide Takes Home the Title Once More

Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

It's time for football, which means it's time for my final prediction on how the SEC West will shake out. Let's have some fun before turning out the lights on the offseason

Even now, with the next set of football games set to kick off tomorrow, you can't escape the fact that we're all just guessing. Come tomorrow, games will start happening, upsets will be sprung, and within two or three weeks everyone's predictions will probably be broken and battered in one way or another. It is one of the reasons we love college football.

I like to think that my guess are educated guesses. I keep up with the SEC about as well as I think anyone can who is not paid a handsome salary to do so. There's a reason I go through the exercise of breaking down the important losses on each roster, noting who is coming back and examining the schedule. Yes, it's content, but it's also my chance to reacquaint myself with each team as the offseason winds down. I hope it's as enjoyable for you as it is educational for me.

But sometimes you have to go with your gut. And my gut is telling me two things right now: (1) that the Hat will use his bye week better than Nick Saban does before the big November game; and (2) that Alabama will end up going to Atlanta anyway after LSU coughs up the following game against the Aggies.

Yes, I'm going with the scenario I alluded to in an earlier post today: chaos. A three-way tie for first place in the SEC West with the entire exercise coming down to BCS standings. And I think that the likeliest scenario in that case is that the pollsters will fall back on what they have already decided: Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU. The closest template we have for this is the 2008 Big 12 South -- and that went to Oklahoma, which was not coincidentally the highest-ranked team at the beginning of the season. People retreat to what they originally thought when things don't make sense, and that's what the pollsters will do.

My guess is that the SEC West team promptly decamps to Atlanta and defeats the SEC East team in a close game. Two SEC West teams will then go to the BCS in some form or fashion. Will the Tide get the opportunity to keep the streak alive in the final year of the BCS? I'm not sure. But since we're just going with a guess and I'm getting excited for the season, I'll say yes.

ALABAMA
Place: T-1st in the SEC West
Record: 11-1, 7-1 SEC
Could be: 10-2 to 12-0
Best chance to be upset: at MISSISSIPPI STATE
Bowl: BCS
TEXAS A&M
Place: T-1st in the SEC West
Record: 11-1, 7-1 SEC
Could be: 9-3 to 12-0
Best chance to be upset: at MISSOURI
Bowl: BCS
LSU
Place: T-1st in the SEC West
Record: 11-1, 7-1 SEC
Could be: 7-5 to 12-0
Best chance to be upset: at MISSISSIPPI STATE
Bowl: COTTON
8.31.13 | vs. VIRGINIA TECH (Atlanta) | PROBABLE WIN 8.31.13 | RICE | LIKELY WIN 8.31.13 | vs. TCU (Arlington) | POSSIBLE WIN
9.14.13 | at TEXAS A&M | POSSIBLE WIN 9.7.13 | SAM HOUSTON ST | WIN
9.7.13 | UAB | WIN
9.21.13 | COLORADO ST | WIN 9.14.13 | ALABAMA | POSSIBLE LOSS
9.14.13 | KENT ST | WIN
9.28.13 | OLE MISS | LIKELY WIN 9.21.13 | SMU | LIKELY WIN 9.21.13 | AUBURN | LIKELY WIN
10.5.13 | GEORGIA ST | WIN 9.28.13 | at ARKANSAS | PROBABLE WIN 9.28.13 | at GEORGIA | POSSIBLE WIN
10.12.13 | at KENTUCKY | WIN 10.12.13 | at OLE MISS | PROBABLE WIN 10.5.13 | at MISSISSIPPI ST | LIKELY WIN
10.19.13 | ARKANSAS | WIN 10.19.13 | AUBURN | LIKELY WIN 10.12.13 | FLORIDA | POSSIBLE WIN
10.26.13 | TENNESSEE | WIN 10.26.13 | VANDERBILT | PROBABLE WIN 10.19.13 | at OLE MISS | PROBABLE WIN
11.9.13 | LSU | POSSIBLE LOSS 11.2.13 | UTEP | WIN 10.26.13 | FURMAN | WIN
11.16.13 | at MISSISSIPPI ST | LIKELY WIN 11.9.13 | MISSISSIPPI ST | LIKELY WIN 11.9.13 | at ALABAMA | POSSIBLE WIN
11.12.13 | CHATTANOOGA | WIN 11.23.13 | at LSU | POSSIBLE WIN 11.23.13 | TEXAS A&M | POSSIBLE LOSS
11.30.13 | at AUBURN | LIKELY WIN 11.30.13 | at MISSOURI | PROBABLE WIN 11.29.13 | ARKANSAS | PROBABLE WIN

Key (from least likely to win to most): Loss, Likely Loss, Probable Loss, Possible Loss, Possible Win, Probable Win, Likely Win, Win

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