Three To Watch In SEC West

Why talk about the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division? Ever major outlet already has them in the BCS Bowl again next year.

So about the only thing left to talk about is who will be the opponent hoping to play spoiler in the SEC Championship Game and also steal the BCS Bowl slot.

It all will boil down to three teams with a realistic shot — Alabama, LSU, and Ole Miss.

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The first contest—on October 10—is when Bama plays at Ole Miss.

Keys to this contest are: Can Alabama's always-tough defense hold down the Rebels' new high-powered offense and can Ole Miss stop Alabama's smash-mouth offense?

Though the loser of this game may not necessarily be out of the equation to make it to Atlanta, it would certainly be a tough row to hoe for the Rebels.

Then November 7, LSU comes to Alabama for what many think could be the deciding game. With head-to-head results counting the way the do, the loser could very well be out of the running—barring an unforeseen upset.

Last year's battle was everything both set of fans could handle, though ultimately the Tiger fans went home unhappy. There's no reason to think that this year's game won't be just as tough and just as tight.

By mid-November, there will be no surprises left. Alabama will hit LSU with a devastating one-two punch of runners and by this time of the year, McElwain, Alabama's offensive coordinator, will have no problem turning quarterback Greg McElroy loose to throw the deep ones and stretch the field.

Will new LSU Defensive Coordinator John Chavis (hired from Tennessee) have his defense in place by this time? That could be a big key in this game.

The Tigers lit the board up and showed what their offense was capable of in their bowl game after dismantling a very good Georgia Tech team 38-3.

If Charles Scott can maintain his bullish running and Jordan Jefferson keep the form he showed in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, then LSU could give Alabama's defense all it can handle.

Clearly, the winner of this game has the inside track to go for the Gators.

Lastly, on November 21, the Bayou Bengals roll into Ole Miss. If one or both have survived their game against Alabama, then this will be the game that settles it all. If both have a loss, the winner gets the better bowl game.

Alabama has the best shot to repeat as the SEC West Champion since the two toughest conference games they have is against these two aforementioned teams. Everyone else they play from the SEC is in a rebuilding mode and shouldn't be a stumbling block.

Besides Alabama and Ole Miss, LSU has major hurdles to overcome. Playing Florida, even at home, is a daunting task, and playing Georgia between the hedges is always a tough task. Going undefeated this season is an unrealistic "opportunity."

Ole Miss is the wild card in this trio. Houston Nutt brought this team from out of nowhere back into the limelight. He seems to always be at his best when expectations are low and then disappoints when all eyes are on him with championships on the line.

There is no doubt that Jevan Snead is among the cream of the crop of SEC signal callers. Add this to great young talent and you have a team that could be great, as it was in beating Florida last year, or amazingly flat, as they were against Vandy. It will be interesting just seeing how they handle this past year's success.

Except for playing LSU and Alabama, Ole Miss should have as easy a run through the SEC as Alabama. Can they make it to the LSU game with only one loss?

I'm already looking forward for Tebow to graduate so Florida can rejoin the rest of the SEC East in battles like the ones that will take place in the West.

Until then, we'll watch see if expectations match results or if upsets will be the story of the day.

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