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Divisional Races

The SEC West

The SEC West is essentially all but done. After pulling out victories in the final minute against both Alabama and Auburn, LSU is the lock to head to Atlanta. They haven't clinched just yet, but honestly it would take a meltdown of epic proportions to not win the West. They just need one win against either Ole Miss or Arkansas and that will seal the deal.

At the moment, Arkansas seems very likely to give LSU a tough game and they may very well pull the upset. But even if that does happen, LSU is likely to beat Ole Miss. Sure the Rebels took them to overtime on the road last year, and they are competitive at times, but the point remains that they are winless in conference play, and they look worse and worse with each passing week. And yes the game is in Oxford, but with the Rebels' poor attendance, there will likely be more purple and gold than red and blue. Beyond that, LSU has more top talent on this squad alone than Ole Miss has had in the past three decades combined.

Bottom line, LSU is a virtual lock. The question mark regarding them is whether or not their continued middling performances will eventually bite them and cost themselves the SEC championship or a shot at the national championship. At this point, not going to Atlanta is a virtual impossibility.

The SEC East

Quite obviously, things aren't so simple in the SEC East, where you see little more than a major glut throughout the division. Let's start analyzing by elimination.

South Carolina is out, with four conference losses -- and likely a fifth looming against Florida -- and Vanderbilt and Tennessee holding tiebreakers over the Gamecocks. Predictions of a Spurrier sighting in Atlanta were obviously premature. At this point, it's likely that the Gators knock off the 'Ol Ball Coach and the Gamecocks end up 3-5 in conference play and in the bottom half of the SEC East.

Kentucky, too, is eliminated, with three conference losses -- and they still have tough games left against Georgia, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. Moreover, Florida and South Carolina hold tiebreakers over them. Obviously, talk of a surge by the Wildcats -- particularly after their upset win over LSU -- was incorrect. This is a decent Kentucky team, but arguably no better than a year ago, and most likely they lose at least one more conference game, and quite possibly two.

Vanderbilt is out as well. The 'Dores may get win number six and a potential bowl berth, but they already have four conference losses with Florida and Georgia holding tiebreakers over them.

So, basically it is all about Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia.

Tennessee is currently the only team in the SEC East in control of their own destiny, but oddly enough they likely have the lowest chance of any of the remaining three teams of actually making Atlanta. Though they currently control their own destiny, they likely have the toughest road to go, with games remaining against Arkansas, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt. Realistically, the Vols need to win out to get to Atlanta, and that seems unlikely. The likely scenario is that Tennessee loses once, and perhaps twice, and that will likely do them in. Even a single loss will likely send Florida to Atlanta.

Georgia is currently leading the SEC East, but the Dawgs still have a tough road to hold. A good Auburn team is coming to Athens this Saturday, and they still have a game left with Kentucky, a team that UGA lost to a year ago. Technically the Dawgs need a Tennessee loss, but it shouldn't be a major problem in getting that one. The difficult part will be beating both Auburn and Kentucky, because if they don't do that then they will risk falling into a three-way tie for the East with Tennessee and Florida, and the Dawgs will likely lose out because of their relatively poor divisional record. The key to Georgia is that they have a one game lead over Florida, and the tiebreaker over the Gators as well. With that in mind, a Tennessee collapse -- which would take away the possibility of a three-way tie -- is obviously the best route for these guys. If the Vols lose twice in the three game stretch of Arkansas, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt, the Dawgs will be going to Atlanta if they can beat either Auburn or Kentucky, or if Florida loses to South Carolina.

Florida, on the other hand, is almost done. Whereas Tennessee has three conference games left, and Georgia has two, the Gators only have one game remaining and that will come this Saturday against South Carolina. At this point, Florida must win in order to remain alive in the SEC East, but considering that the Gamecocks have lost three straight, the Gators should be able to get the win. Assuming they beat South Carolina, Florida moves to 5-3 in conference play and a staunch 5-1 record in SEC East play. And oddly enough, that may just be enough to get them in the SEC Championship Game. At the moment they need both Tennessee and Georgia to lose a game, but the odds are likely that happens. The Gators essentially need to avoid a head-to-head tie with Georgia, considering the Dawgs hold the tiebreaker, but all other scenarios involving ties will get Florida to Atlanta. A three-way tie between Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida will have the Gators in Atlanta, as will a head-to-head tie with Florida and Tennessee. At this point -- considering at least one more loss is likely from Georgia and Tennessee -- the Gators really just have to hope that Tennessee will lose, but only once. If Tennessee loses more than once, it's then likely that the Gators are in a head-to-head tie with Georgia, and in that case the Bulldogs are headed to Atlanta.

All in all, though Tennessee is in control of their own destiny, the Vols are likely the longest shot of any of the final three. A single loss will likely doom them, and that's very likely. Georgia can get there, most likely, by beating Auburn and Kentucky, but that will be difficult and the Dawgs will be sitting at home if they tie with the Vols or if they end up in a three-way tie because of their divisional record. Florida needs some help, and will be doomed by a Tennessee collapse, something that may very well happen.

At this point, the East is still up for grabs, but we can come up with a pretty good grasp on things. And after this weekend -- where Tennessee plays Arkansas, Florida plays South Carolina, and Georgia plays Auburn -- we will likely know for sure.

In Summary

All in all, look for either LSU v. Florida, or LSU v. Georgia. Those scenarios are with little doubt the two most likely match-ups in Atlanta.