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Will the SEC Championship Game Be a Rematch?

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They don't happen often.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In 23 SEC Championship Games played so far, only six times have we had a rematch. It makes sense that rematches are infrequent because when teams from opposite divisions play each other during the regular season, one of them must incur a loss. Teams that don't play each other might be able to sweep their cross-division games and not have that extra loss on their records.

Strangely, we had five rematches in a six-year span around the turn of the millennium. Only one came before or since, and only one time did the rematch turn up a new winner.

  • 1999: Alabama beat Florida 40-39 in October and 34-7 in Atlanta
  • 2000: Florida beat Auburn 38-7 in October and 28-6 in Atlanta
  • 2001: Tennessee beat LSU 26-18 in September and LSU beat Tennessee 31-20 in Atlanta
  • 2003: LSU beat Georgia 17-10 in September and 34-14 in Atlanta
  • 2004: Auburn beat Tennessee 34-10 in October and 38-28 in Atlanta
  • 2010: Auburn beat South Carolina 35-27 in September and 56-17 in Atlanta

Yes, kids, there was once a time when Tennessee used to go to Atlanta regularly, and, well, someone other than Missouri went to Atlanta from the East.

Because of the way the schedule worked out this year, the preseason predictions tend to favor a rematch in Atlanta. The SEC Media split their West vote with Alabama picked to win the division and Auburn selected to win the entire conference, and they chose Georgia to win the East with Tennessee the runner up. The preseason consensus also likes Alabama and Auburn to finish at the top of the West and Georgia and Tennessee at the top of the East.

Georgia plays both Alabama and Auburn from the West, and Tennessee has Alabama as its annual cross-division rival. An Auburn-Tennessee game wouldn't be a rematch, but it's the only one of the four possible out of these teams that wouldn't be a second game between the combatants.

This is all probably moot if Missouri goes ahead and wins the division again, as its West opponents Arkansas and Mississippi State aren't expected to contend for the division crown. The same goes if the consensus West third place team LSU goes to Atlanta, as it has projected also-rans Florida and South Carolina from the East.

And that, again, illustrates why rematches are so rare. Maybe we'll see Missouri and LSU face off in the Georgia Dome precisely because they don't play those top teams from the opposite divisions—or each other.