What a year for the SEC West division. It has the No. 1 team in the country, the No. 3 team in the country, and, oh yeah, the No. 6 and No. 7 teams in the country, too, according to the AP poll. There is one more school in the Top 25, with another one just outside the current rankings. It is shaping up to be an exciting finish in the wild, wild west.
Let's take a look at what has happened to date in the SEC West.
Here we go. Sit down with me.
This past weekend, Mississippi State knocked off Auburn at home, and Ole Miss won all four quarters at Texas A&M just a week after defeating Alabama at home. Arkansas fell to Alabama by a point due to a missed extra point. LSU went down to Florida and won in the final seconds on a field goal.
Yes, that was all in one weekend. It is only going to get better moving ahead.
Let's start at the top with Mississippi State and what the Bulldogs have the second half of the season. They are off this week, then they are at a 5-1 surprising Kentucky team who is playing good football on October 25. That is a game to keep an eye on. The Bulldogs will get the Wildcats' best game.
After UK, the Bulldogs go to Starkville, then it is Tennessee-Martin before Dan Mullen and company travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala. What a game that could be for both programs. After the Tide, the Bulldogs have a struggling Vanderbilt team before going to Oxford, Miss. for the Egg Bowl November 29.
Can you imagine what it will be like November 29 at Ole Miss if Mississippi State enters that game undefeated? I can. I will be watching that game eating some Thanksgiving leftovers.
Let's make that game a little bigger. Not one team undefeated in the Egg Bowl, but two. Can you imagine if Ole Miss is also undefeated on November 29? It is possible, but their road could be considered a little tougher on paper than the road for the Bulldogs.
Neither schedule is easy.
The Rebels have to continue to play at a high level coming off of back-to-back big wins when Butch Jones brings his improving Vols to The Grove on Saturday. Tennessee can score points, but Ole Miss’ defense is stingy, so the Rebels should move to 7-0 this weekend.
Hugh Freeze then gets a subpar LSU team at home, but Les Miles will pull a rabbit out of a hat this season, and beat someone he shouldn’t – you can bet on that. Then Auburn travels to Oxford, Miss. November 1, then it is Presbyterian, a game at Arkansas, and Mississippi State to close out the season.
Can the Rebels stay perfect until November 29, the Egg Bowl? Yes, of course there is a chance, but it will be a tough task. Mississippi State has a slightly easier road to 12-0 when looking at who they play and how they match-up, but in the SEC, nothing is ever a given, and there will be an upset or two or three along the way.
Have we talked about Alabama and Auburn yet? No, it has been about two schools in Mississippi who happen to be better this season to date.
With that said, both are still definite Top 10 teams and yes, each has lost to a school in the state of Mississippi, but both are still very much in the race to represent the SEC West in Atlanta early in December.
It is tight between Mississippi State and Ole Miss at the top of the division, but as tight of a race that is, it is just as tight between the Tigers and the Crimson Tide at three and four. Alabama looks to have an easier schedule despite a match-up with Mississippi State the second half of the season. The biggest difference is Georgia, a team in the SEC East Auburn plays every year. The Bulldogs are No. 10 in the AP poll at this time.
If I was asked to pick a winner today between Alabama and Auburn, I would pick the Tigers. Again, not much separates the two, but the Tigers have looked better from top to bottom through week seven.
The game people have been circling for years now on Alabama’s schedule is LSU. That game should still be circled, but it is not that one versus two game it was just a few years ago. You don’t think the Mad Hatter won’t have his Tigers ready to be the spoiler this season? He will. That game is one week ahead of the Tide playing the current No. 1 team in the country? Could ‘Bama get caught looking ahead?
Oh yeah, Texas A&M is hosting Alabama this weekend and there is still the Iron Bowl November 29. Which game are you watching that weekend, the Iron Bowl or the Egg Bowl? I just hope they are different times. At least I am not Hugh Freeze or Dan Mullin, I can look ahead to that date.
Auburn and Gus Malzahn will get back on track this weekend against South Carolina. The Tigers should roll. A week later, Auburn will have its chance to play in Oxford. Alabama failed there, how will Auburn do? I bet you most of you will be tuned in to find out.
After the Rebels, it is Texas A&M, Georgia, and Alabama with a game against Samford squeezed in there the weekend before the Iron Bowl. Not an easy finish for the Tigers.
How about Arkansas, LSU, and Texas A&M? They are all but out of the running for the SEC West title, but one of these schools will beat a team it is not supposed to beat. Who will it be? Who has the best shot at being a spoiler this season?
As odd as it sounds, could it be Arkansas? Bret Bielema has to win his first SEC game at some point, and he is getting close. He had the Aggies down a few weeks ago late, he lost to Alabama by one point this past weekend, and his first win could come against Georgia Saturday. He has the Hogs playing much better than it did a year ago and teams cannot rest or look ahead when Arkansas appears on the schedule.
Will Muschamp is trying to survive in Florida and Les Miles hurt his chances of doing that by stealing a victory at The Swamp on Saturday night. You think Miles and the Tigers will lay down and conceive wins this season because it is not a top 10 team? No. They will compete hard and keep an eye on the Ole Miss game October 25, then Alabama November 8 as his young team grows in front of our eyes.
It appears the Aggies are fading. Their defense is young, it gives up big plays, and that big win over the Gamecocks out of the gate is not near as impressive now as it was then. Still Alabama and Auburn on their schedule though, two top 10 teams than Kevin Sumlin would love to defeat.
So how will it all play out? The SEC East is musical chairs with no clear-cut No. 1 team although Georgia looked more like that with a 34-0 win over Missouri Saturday. It doesn’t look like Georgia—or any of the schools on that side of the conference—are within two touchdowns of the best in the west at this time, but remember, this is the SEC. There will be upsets along the way.
With all the big games the last couple of weeks, there is still a long way to go, so who will represent the western side of the division in the Georgia Dome December 6 in the SEC Championship game with a shot to play in the inaugural NCAA Football Playoff?
Mississippi State looks to be the best team right now to me. The right team is ranked at the top of the polls and quarterback Dak Prescott is the reason why. He is the X factor for me and my mid-season Player of the Year in this conference. But who will they be the best come the first of December?
Four teams are fighting for the title in the wild, wild west, and anyone of them could win it. Will someone go unbeaten? The odds are not in favor of that happening, but with two schools at 6-0, it is possible that one could with them playing each other November 29.
It is going to be an entertaining final six weeks of the season is the SEC West. Who do you have winning? Your guess is as good as mine, maybe better. Stay tuned.