Right now, the No. 11 Ole Miss Rebels are 8-2 on the year and sitting in the middle of a very talented SEC Western division. With Mississippi State undefeated and Alabama with just one loss (after an overtime win against LSU in Baton Rouge), the two of them are undeniably in charge of what happens with regards to the division race and, ultimately, who represents our half of the conference in the SEC Championship game. This makes their game next weekend a pretty damn important one in this regard. If State wins, the SEC West is theirs presuming they beat Vanderbilt. If Alabama wins, the SEC West is as up for grabs as it's ever been.
But if the latter happens there are real possibilities that one of four teams could win the SEC Western division, a notion that's wildly exciting considering that there's less than a month of regular season football left to be played. Winless Arkansas is obviously out of the question, as are Texas A&M and LSU who each have three conference losses. So what we are left with are the aforementioned Bulldogs and Tide as well as two-loss Ole Miss and Auburn teams. For Ole Miss to make it to Atlanta, they would need to finish in a situation where they can earn a tiebreaker by virtue of head-to-head wins. This would happen if the following take place:
- Ole Miss wins out
- Mississippi State loses to Alabama (or Vanderbilt, but c'mon)
- Auburn loses to Georgia
- Alabama loses to Auburn
If those four things happen, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Alabama would all finish with 6-2 SEC records, while Auburn would finish 5-3 and therefore out of the mix. Ole Miss would then win the division based on having beaten both State and Alabama.
Circumstances one and two must take place for Ole Miss to advance to the SEC Championship game. Circumstance three doesn't have to happen, but if it doesn't happen it could mean an odd four-way tiebreaker that probably doesn't go in Ole Miss' favor.
Circumstance four doesn't have to happen either, but only if Western Carolina somehow manages to beat the Tide which, I mean, c'mon, why am I even writing this sentence at this point? They're not losing that game. Oh, wait, that game doesn't matter. They could lose it by a billion and still be in the mix with regards to SEC standings.
So, to keep it really simple, what you need to hope happens is this: Alabama and Georgia win next weekend, Ole Miss beats Arkansas the weekend after that, and both Auburn and Ole Miss win the week after that. That would result in an SEC West that finishes thusly:
- Ole Miss (6-2)
- Alabama (6-2)
- Mississippi State (6-2)
- Auburn (5-3)
- LSU, probably (5-3)
- Texas A&M, probably (4-4)
- Arkansas (0-8)
LSU and Texas A&M are interchangeable depending on how they play, and Arkansas could legitimately steal a game or two before their season's up (please please please not against Ole Miss), but what you're seeing is our dream scenario. So do your part and cheer for Alabama and Georgia next weekend, and hopefully our Rebs can take care of business when they're put up to the task.