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What's at Stake on Saturday

Most on the Line: (tie) Florida and Alabama

They're still fighting in the national title hunt, and while these teams could in theory lose on Saturday and still go to Pasadena, that's no guarantee. Should one fall and still win the conference, expect a huge (and I mean huge) campaign to erupt to get TCU into the big one, with lots of appeals to emotion and citations about the SEC being down. I don't know that it would work, but this is the BCS and strange things have happened before. It's best to just win out.

Most to Gain: Gene Chizik

It's been a roller coaster year for Auburn, and the feeling now is mixed. Yes, it is an improvement over last year. However it's not dramatically so, and there's things like a home loss to Kentucky mixed in with the wins over Ole Miss and West Virginia. I doubt if anyone is fully convinced that Chizik is the long term answer based on this one season.

If he beats Alabama though, things change. Ruining a perfect season for Bama is the sort of thing that gets you canonized at Auburn. Okay maybe not canonized, but it would be an event remembered by Tigers for decades. Even if Chizik were to flame out in a couple years, he'd have this to be fondly remembered by. Not only that, but it would solidify his position, inspire confidence in the future, bolster recruiting efforts, and poke a stick in Nick Saban's eye. That sounds like an awful lot to gain, no?

Next Most to Gain: Arkansas

A win likely means a Cotton Bowl berth. When you can't get into the BCS from the SEC, it's hard to beat New Year's in Dallas. A loss throws everything up in the air with the Outback the best case scenario.

Most to Lose: Les Miles

There was once a time when LSU was expected to be in the race for the SEC West. That was before the Tigers lost to the three best teams on their schedule. There's a chance that this year's lackluster offense won't do him in just as last year's bad defense didn't; Miles pulled John Chavis out of his hat and the results have been satisfactory. Now that the offense is the issue, he deserves a chance to either let Gary Crowton fix it or find someone else who will.

If LSU loses to Arkansas though, especially if it's clearly the coaches at fault as with last week, Miles may not get that chance. I don't know how trigger happy the administration is in Baton Rouge, but the goodwill he got from 2007's national title is fading. A loss would be bad. A bad loss would be crippling. He's getting paid too much to go 7-7 in the SEC in back-to-back years.

Next Most to Lose: Lane Kiffin

Back in 2006 when Andre Woodson was running the show in Lexington, a loss to Kentucky was not something to be ashamed of. Now it's a different story with the Wildcats clearly not as good as they were then. UK is decent, so losing to them is not a disaster, but it's not something a very good team would do.

If Tennessee was to lose, putting Kentucky's relative strength aside, it would make the Vols at 6-6 on the year with an identical 3-5 SEC record to last year. After the coaching change, all the bluster, and all the recruiting focus, the only improvement in the team's record would be that UT avoided a Wyoming-style disaster in 2009. That's not much progress, and 2010 looks like another lean year with all the important seniors leaving Knoxville this off season. A loss on Saturday doesn't put Kiffin on the hot seat, but it makes the future not look quite as promising.

Least to Gain: Mark Richt

No one expects Georgia to beat Georgia Tech, so a win would be a big pleasant surprise for the Bulldogs. The victory would be big for a fan base that doesn't like it when the Yellow Jackets start to get uppity, but ultimately it wouldn't do much more than perhaps save them from Shreveport this year. Big changes still have to be made to build a bright future in Athens, and if anything, an upset on Saturday would slightly impede the progress to making those changes.

True, it's always better to win than lose. However, one win doesn't wipe away the rest of the 2009 season for UGA.