Man in the Stands

Saturday sets up the West and shapes the East

It’s no secret that ESPN, the computers, and everyone who gets a vote in the standings has a love affair with the SEC.

This weekend could set up one of the better SEC races to be ran in the last few years. The East is starting to flex its muscles as the West continues to show why they, mainly Alabama, are at the top of the voter’s rankings list week in, week out.

First with the East:This is the week that the pack leaders play each other. #3 Florida will host #9 South Carolina. This matchup is huge in terms of how the division shapes up for the rest of the season and has been set up well.

The Gators welcomed the Mad Hatter and his Bayou Bengals into Gainesville and showed them the way out after tagging them by eight points. That same day, College Gameday showed up in Columbia, SC to watch the Gamecocks dismantle Georgia. One week later South Carolina headed into Death Valley to play LSU and left disappointed.

This week has two outcomes:

  • A South Carolina victory ties them with the Gators with a conference record of 5-1 but puts them in the lead because of the head-to-head win.
  • A Florida win puts them in sole possession of the East and leads them to the SEC Championship game.

But there’s another player here: Georgia.

Georgia heads to Kentucky, which has been pitiful this season. The Wildcats have just one win, a 33-point decision over Kent State, versus six losses, including getting shut-out at The Swamp and beat down in Fayetteville.

Georgia, on the other hand, has the aforementioned loss, albeit a 35-7 thrashing, from South Carolina. This team is far from what it was expected to be in preseason. This defense was expected to be of National Championship caliber, but that was before it lost Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogeltreee to suspension. The two came back in time to give up 44 points in a close win to Tennessee and more rushing yards to Carolina Quarterback Connor Shaw than the Dawgs two freshman studs, Gurley and Marshall, combined.

So why does Georgia at Kentucky matter? With a victory, the Bulldogs will improve to 6-1 on the season and 4-1 in the conference. This, combined with a South Carolina win over UF, puts UGA one game back of Florida heading into the rivalry game next weekend. Setting them up to take control of the East with a victory over the Gators and the head-to-head tie breaker.

Of course, all of this is circumstantial, but it does mean that Georgia fans have to suck it up and pull for the Gators this week! Then they must pray that their defense learns how to contain a mobile quarterback before they see Jeff Driskel in Jacksonville.

The West turns in some interesting set-up games as well as a street cred battle for Texas A&M this week.

First, #6 LSU has to travel to College Station and fight off a #20 Aggies team that is hot on their trail in the division standings. Both teams are sitting at 2-1 in the conference standings. If A&M is able to pull off the upset, it would be a big step forward in the process of proving that it is a true SEC team.

The next matchup that should be on every SEC West fan’s radar is Middle Tennessee State at #15 Mississippi State. Then everyone should take a peak at the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide heading to Knoxville to take on Tennessee.

Why would anyone list these as games to watch? Because they set up a potentially huge contest next week in Tuscaloosa between the Bulldogs and the Tide. If both teams win this week, and there’s no reason that either team should lose, then the pair come in undefeated to fight for the lead in the West.

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2 thoughts on “Saturday sets up the West and shapes the East

  1. Andy Sullivan on said:

    Great post, but actually Georgia fans should be pulling for Florida this weekend. With a South Carolina loss this weekend that would basically put them out of the race. Then if next week Georgia beats Florida they would both be 7-1 with Georgia winning the head-to-head match-up.

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