Monday, October 28, 2013

The Path of Every SEC Team to the SEC Championship Game

The following is what it would take for each of the 14 SEC teams to make it to Atlanta, no matter how ridiculous or far-fetched.



As the only team that actually controls its own destiny, Missouri has the easiest, most straightforward road to win. They could have clinched this past Saturday in Columbia, but after a self-destruct of epic proportions, they did not. Missouri has four conference games remaining against Tennessee, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Texas A&M. It’s pretty simple: Win out and they are in. If they lose any of those four, they also lose the tie-breaker with two loss South Carolina. In that case, Missouri will need South Carolina to lose one of their two remaining conference games.

TL;DR: Missouri clinches east by winning out.

South Carolina

After an unlikely fourth quarter comeback against Missouri, South Carolina finds themselves with a realistic road to Atlanta. Their two remaining games are against struggling Florida and Mississippi State. However, the Gamecocks are quite masterful at losing games their was no chance of losing. Their loss to Georgia also puts them in an interesting situation. The Gamecocks need to hope that Florida beats Georgia this Saturday to avoid a possible three-way tie between South Carolina, Georgia and Missouri (if Missouri loses again). In the three-way tie, South Carolina Assuming Carolina wins their last two, they will still need Missouri to lose one of their remaining four. This, however, is quite the possibility as Missouri plays Texas A&M to close the season. For the three-way tie scenario, it would be better for the Gamecocks if Missouri lost another division game. 

TL;DR: Win last two games, Missouri needs to lose. A Georgia loss would be nice too. 


Now it gets a little muddier. Two-loss Florida sits tied for 3rd in the east with the heavily injured Georgia Bulldogs. They lost to Missouri last week, making their chances slim, but they aren’t mathematically eliminated. It helps Florida that they have yet to play South Carolina and Georgia. Wins over these two teams give them sole ownership of second place. Florida would also need a win over a Vanderbilt team that has already beaten Georgia. This would put Florida at 6-2 in the SEC, 1 game behind Missouri, who they lost to. As has already been mentioned, Missouri has a chance of losing to A&M, but that isn’t enough for Florida. In order for Florida to win the east, Missouri has to lose two of their four remaining games. A&M will certainly give Missouri a game, but Kentucky will likely roll over and play dead. Tennessee and Ole Miss have both pulled upsets already this year, Florida will be rooting for them as they are Florida’s only hope.

TL;DR: Win out and get some help.


Much of what was said about Florida is true about Georgia as well. Georgia has already beaten South Carolina, and therefore wins in the event of a tie. Who would have thought at the beginning of the season that neither Georgia nor Florida would be ranked for their showdown in Jacksonville, or that Georgia would be the underdogs going into the Auburn game? That is where we are right now. Georgia needs to win out, making them 6-2. Assuming South Carolina wins out, they are also 6-2. Once again, everyone in the east needs A&M to beat Mizzou. If all of that happens, we have a three-way tie. The three-way tie does not go in Georgia’s favor very well. There are a number of ways to break a three-way tie in the SEC, and in none of them does Georgia beat out Missouri. Therefore, much like Florida, Georgia has to hope for a second Missouri loss.

TL;DR: Win out and get some help


Brace yourself. Tennessee has losses to Florida, Georgia and Alabama, placing them at 1-3 in the conference and in 4th in the east.

This Weekend: Tennessee must beat Missouri this weekend, making Tennessee 2-3 and Missouri 3-2. We know that either Florida or Georgia must lose this weekend, making one 3-3, and the other 4-2, we’ll go with a Georgia victory for fun. In order to save his career, Dan Mullen pulls out a huge win over South Carolina, moving the Gamecocks to 4-3 in the SEC.

Next weekend: Florida loses to Vanderbilt, now making them 3-4 and Vandy 2-4. Kentucky hires German mercenaries allowing them to beat Missouri. The NCAA will later investigate this, but they will find no wrongdoing and only take away one of Kentucky’s scholarships. That being said, Missouri falls to 3-3. Tennessee manages to beat Auburn at home for the first time since 1999 and moves up to 3-3.

Nov 16: Florida goes into South Carolina and emerges victorious after Connor Shaw’s leg falls off, and 13 SC defenders are unjustly ejected for targeting; making both teams 4-4 in the SEC. Vanderbilt easily dismantles Kentucky, who ran out of funding for their mercenaries; improving Vandy to 3-4 and moving Kentucky down to an expected 1-5. Mark Richt decides to field the basketball team against Auburn, Georgia falls to 4-3.

Nov 23: Tennessee beats Vanderbilt, improving to 4-3 and dropping Vanderbilt to 3-5. In a football game between Georgia’s and Kentucky’s basketball teams, Kentucky wins capping off a 2-wins-more-than-expected year for Kentucky, and a 4-4 Georgia team that will likely still be ranked in the top 15 in next year’s preseason poll. Ole Miss once again snatches defeat from the jaws of victory, and Missouri moves to 4-3.

Nov 30: Tennessee holds off Kentucky’s fourth quarter comeback, letting them finish a surprising 5-3. Missouri can’t stop the Texas A&M Fighting Manziels and they finish 4-4 after a 4-0 start. Tennessee wins the east.

TL;DR: It sounds crazy…because it is. But that’s how this year has gone.


Vanderbilt has very little chance at 1-4, but a chance nonetheless. Their “chance” revolves mostly around everyone losing every game, and Kentucky providing some major upsets.

Florida beats SC, loses the other 2; they finish 4-4.
Georgia beats Florida, then loses out; they finish 4-4.
Kentucky manages to win 3 of their last 4, losing to Vandy. They finish 3-5.
Missouri loses their last 4, they finish 3-5.
South Carolina loses their remaining SEC games, they finish 4-4.
Tennessee beats Missouri, loses the other 3; they finish 2-6.
Vanderbilt wins out, they finish 4-4.

This four-way tie then pops up. Vanderbilt > Georgia > Florida > South Carolina > Vanderbilt. This shifts our focus to the tie-breakers. Clearly with four teams at 4-4 in the conference, none of them will be ranked in the BCS standings. Therefore, the teams’ divisional record will break the tie. Under these circumstances, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina each finish with a 3-3 record in the east. Vanderbilt, however, finishes with a 4-2 record in the east, giving them the ticket to Atlanta.

TL;DR: If anything like this happens, we can be sure that the SEC championship game will have been won by the West by halftime…maybe earlier.


The road for Kentucky to win is not as difficult as you think it might be for a team that is 1-6. First, Missouri is deported to the Big XII, and there was much rejoicing. Steve Spurrier finally snaps when Connor Shaw breaks his throwing hand while sharpening a pencil, and Clowney decides he is not playing due to “sore thumbs” from playing too much Madden the night before. Spurrier slams his visor on the ground and then declares that South Carolina won’t play any more football this year. When Aaron Murray becomes the only uninjured Georgia player, Georgia forfeits their remaining games. Interestingly enough, the NCAA reveals that the University of Florida has been paying the players in bubble gum, causing the Florida-Georgia game to be the first ever double forfeit. Not to be outdone by Arkansas’ week 9 loss to the bye week, Tennessee lost to Auburn, the fans and the referees all in the same weekend; they followed that up with a loss to Kentucky, moving their record to 1-9 in the SEC, 4-13 overall. This led to disgruntled fans posting a sign in Knoxville that reads: Interstate 75, Tennessee 0. And finally, Kentucky beats Vanderbilt which also gives them the tie breaker.

TL;DR: Kentucky is mathematically eliminated.



One of two teams to control their own destiny in the west. Win out and they are in. Even if they lose to LSU, they still clinch if they win the Iron Bowl.

TL;DR: Just win.


Probably the most improved team from last year. Auburn’s win over Texas A&M has given them control of their own destiny as well. Assuming Auburn takes care of business against Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia, the Iron Bowl will be the SEC West Championship.

TL;DR: Just win.


LSU needs a bit of help. They once held their destiny in their own hands, until Auburn beat A&M and LSU lost to Ole Miss.  LSU plays Alabama Nov 9 and Texas A&M the following week. If they can pull off wins in both games, they are likely to finish 6-2 in the SEC. However, LSU needs help. If LSU beats Alabama, and Auburn wins the Iron Bowl, LSU still needs another Auburn loss. If LSU beats Alabama and Alabama wins the Iron Bowl then Mississippi State will also need to beat Alabama. That will get us into a three-way tie between LSU, Auburn and Alabama. LSU beat both Auburn and Alabama in that scenario, giving them the tie-breaker based on head-to-head. 

TL;DR: To avoid three-way tie, LSU wins out, Auburn loses a game then beats Alabama.

Texas A&M

With the loss at Auburn, Texas A&M is dependent upon other teams to help them out. The Aggies have games left against MSU, LSU and Missouri. All three are winnable games, none of them are guarantees. If that happens, A&M is 6-2 in the SEC, and loses tie-breakers with the two teams on top of the division. That would require Auburn and Alabama to have three losses in conference play. This is easier for Auburn, as they have three conference games other than the Iron Bowl remaining. Auburn would have to lose two of those, and then win the Iron Bowl. Alabama would need to lose out. A Texas A&M against LSU would eliminate the Tigers.

TL;DR: A&M wins out, Auburn and Alabama must lose 3.

Mississippi State

Believe it or not, Miss State is not in much worse condition that A&M or LSU, they just haven’t played as many conference games yet. The Bulldogs have 5 conference games left, the next three against ranked opponents, and three of them are away. It is by no means an easy finish to the season. At this point, winning the west may be the only way for Dan Mullen to save his job. If Miss State wins out, they will be 6-2 in the SEC. LSU beats Alabama, Auburn loses to Arkansas, Georgia or Tennessee, Texas A&M beats LSU, Alabama beats Auburn. A Miss State win at A&M places them ahead of the Aggies. A win over the Crimson Tide gives them advantage in a tie. Final west standings look like this:

Miss State       6-2
Alabama         6-2
Auburn           5-3
A&M              5-3
LSU                5-3
Ole Miss         2-6
Arkansas        0-8

TL;DR: Not likely, but we can at least draw the path.

Ole Miss

The Rebel Black Bears beat Troy and Arkansas, but lose to Miss State and Missouri. They go to the BBVA Compass Bowl and lose to some grossly inferior team that no SEC team should lose to, and they finish the season 7-6. Coach Huge Freeze will say of the season, “Just as good as winning the SEC West.” 

Apart from that, the best Ole Miss can hope for is an act of congress that declares them the winner. Which at this point, I can't think of anything better for congress to be doing but passing laws that determines the winner of the SEC West. 

TL;DR: Ole Miss is mathematically eliminated.


After losing to the bye week last weekend*, Arkansas needs a miracle. Even if Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Ole Miss left and joined the NFL, Arkansas still wouldn’t have enough conference wins to win the west. Arkansas’ only wins come against a Sun Belt team, a team from the FCS and a team on a 19 game losing streak.

TL;DR: Arkansas is mathematically eliminated.

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