Who is headed to Atlanta from SEC West?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 24, 2007

As always, football season is long awaited and once here a brief chimera seen before the off-season once more depletes the energy that is college &8217;ball from the air. And again as always, it is about this time in the season, which feels like it has barely started, that real college football fans start thinking about their team&8217;s chance to make it to a conference championship.

This year has been interesting, and, thusly, those up for a shot at the Southeastern Conference&8217;s Western Division bid to the championship game are an interesting group. Let me rephrase that: they are an interesting group if looked at in snapshots of the season.

First, I am sure no one at the beginning of the season but the most diehard Bama fan, mind clouded in crimson, would have guessed the Tide would be tied for the lead in the West with a 4-1 division record heading into Week 9. Yet there it is, and the Tide has only lost to an Eastern Division team (remember that, it might come in handy).

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Then there is LSU. Recently routed by Kentucky in a huge upset for the Bengals from the swamps of Louisiana. They set at 4-1 in the SEC as well (as if the LSU/Bama game didn&8217;t have enough emotional baggage going in this year).

And thirdly Auburn. What a season. Falling to Mississippi State early must really sting now that it and the recent LSU comeback are all that stand between being undefeated in conference play.

And here we are. What now?

Each team has three more conference opponents that will decide its fate.

Alabama has the toughest row to hoe (and the hardest future to foresee). First LSU, then MSU (who beat Auburn early on and beat Bama last year) and then the pinnacle of the season every year &8212; the Plainsmen.

Auburn also is facing some troubles. They have an easy one this week but its is against a desperate Ole Miss. Then two big rivals &8212; the Bulldogs in the oldest rivalry in the SEC and the Tide in the biggest rivalry in college football.

LSU are just looking not to get upset. Bama on the road will be the toughest. Then they have to clean up shop at home against Ole Miss and Arkansas. If LSU beats Bama they can drop one of the last two and still be a lock for Atlanta.

Auburn, almost undoubtedly, will have to go undefeated to have a shot. They will also have to pray that the Tide beats LSU next week and the loss and Tuscaloosa sets off a chain reaction of Bengal losses.

And then there is Bama. If they beat LSU and Auburn they are in the championship even with a loss to MSU. If they fail to beat LSU they are pretty much out unless there is another huge upset in Baton Rouge. Then there is the kicker.

If Alabama splits LSU and Auburn, beating the Bengals but falling to the plain old Tigers and both Auburn and LSU drop no other games prior or after, things become hazy. Then all three are 6-2 with a loss to one of the three but not the other. A three-way-tie for the West.

Then it moves to the best record of the teams within the division. Theoretically Bama and the Bengals will be 4-1 in the West, and Auburn knocked out of the running

for being 4-2 in the West. In such a case, Bama trumps the Tigers for beating them at home and head to the championship game.

In a season like this I don&8217;t know if you could write a better ending &8212; well, Auburn beating all the odds after a 1-2 start perhaps.

Brandon Glover is the sports editor of The Times. He can be reached at brandon.glover@demopolistimes.com.