As we enter the month of November this much is clear – the class of the Southeastern Conference is still the national champion Crimson Tide. Alabama is the top ranked team in the BCS and sitting at 8-0 (5-0). They are still the odds on favorite to win the SEC and their third national title in a row.
Alabama is the only truly dominant or elite team in the league.
Traditional East super powers, Florida and Georgia, have been hit and hit hard by injuries. Missouri has surprised all but lost last weekend to South Carolina. The Gamecocks are still in the SEC East hunt. While the Tigers control their own destiny, South Carolina has the easier path to Atlanta but they need help from the West. Missouri closes out the season at Ole Miss before hosting Texas A&M.
Speaking of the West, at this point in time you can make an argument that the four best teams in the SEC all reside in this division in Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M and LSU. With all due respect to Steve Spurrier and Gary Pinkel and their respective programs I certainly believe that to be the case right now.
Time will tell.
There are some unbelievable matchups in the SEC on tap in November like LSU/Alabama, Texas A&M/LSU, Alabama/Auburn, Missouri/Ole Miss, Texas A&M/Missouri and Georgia/Auburn. These games are huge and will have major implications in both division races.
Here's how I see next month's SEC games unfolding and who makes it to the Georgia Dome for the SEC Championship Game.
Southeastern Conference East
|FLORIDA (4-3, 3-2)|
|vs Georgia (in Jacksonville, Fla.)||Loss|
|at South Carolina||Loss|
|vs Georgia Southern||Win|
|vs Florida State||Loss|
The Gators have had two issues – they have been besieged by injuries on both sides of the ball and their offense has been downright anemic for most of the season. On top of that the Florida defense has not lived up to its billing, especially of late. The schedule doesn't let up with games against Georgia, South Carolina and a red hot FSU team. The Gators will be underdogs in those three contests and they will get a battle from Vandy. It's just a tough season all the way around for Will Muschamp and his Gators.
|GEORGIA (4-3, 3-2)|
|vs Florida (in Jacksonville, Fla.)||Win|
|vs Appalachian State||Win|
|at Georgia Tech||Win|
Like the Gators, Georgia has been hit big time by the injury bug. The big difference between the two teams though is they have a veteran quarterback in Aaron Murray and they are getting running back Todd Gurley back. The primary issue moving forward is their defense and can they stop anyone? Tough games lie ahead with Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech. They should win two out of these three.
|KENTUCKY (1-6, 0-4)|
|vs Alabama State||Win|
Kentucky's lone win was against Miami (Ohio). The Wildcats have struggled on both sides of the ball, particularly on offense. They have a good chance at picking up a victory this weekend against Alabama State but then it is tough sledding to finish out the year. I just don't see them winning any of those final four. Mark Stoops has to rebuild the Wildcat roster and it's going to take some time.
|MISSOURI (7-1, 3-1)|
|at Ole Miss||Loss|
|vs Texas A&M||Loss|
Missouri has been one of the big surprises this fall, especially after wins against Georgia and Florida in back to back weeks. Then they blew a fourth quarter lead to South Carolina and lost to the Gamecocks last weekend. They are a balanced offense with an underrated defense, especially up front. The Tigers should prevail against Tennessee and Kentucky but then go on the road to Ole Miss before their season finale against the Aggies at home. Winning those final two will prove very difficult. But that's exactly what they will likely need to do to hold off South Carolina in the East.
|SOUTH CAROLINA (6-2, 4-2)|
|vs Mississippi State||Win|
|vs Coastal Carolina||Win|
The Gamecocks are still in the SEC East race after beating the Tigers last weekend. To get to Atlanta they will need some help from the West (Ole Miss and Texas A&M play Missouri over final two weeks). First and foremost they have to take care of their own business against Mississippi State and the Gators. Mike Davis has emerged as a big time running back in Columbia. He and quarterback Connor Shaw have propelled South Carolina, not their defense and Jadeveon Clowney.
|TENNESSEE (4-4, 1-3)|
One thing you can say about the Volunteers is that they have played hard for new coach Butch Jones. There is some talent in Knoxville but some holes as well. They upset South Carolina but lost a heartbreaker to Georgia. Still, this is a much improved team over last year. I believe Tennessee has a chance to finish out 3-1. Missouri on the road and Auburn at home are their next two games. They have to find a way to split these two and the better shot is when they face the Tigers in Knoxville.
|VANDERBILT (4-4, 1-4)|
|vs Wake Forest||Win|
Vandy lost a heartbreaker to open up the season to Ole Miss but beat Georgia a few weeks ago. They have scored some points this year but have struggled defensively against spread offenses. Ole Miss, Texas A&M, and Missouri scored a combined 146 points on Vandy's defense. Over their final four games they don't face any potent offenses in Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and Wake Forest. 2-2 is certainly doable and both the Gators and Vols are swing games. But, they are also road games.
Southeastern Conference West
|ALABAMA (8-0, 5-0)|
|at Mississippi State||Win|
The Crimson Tide has been surging of late, especially their defense. Since giving up 42 points to Johnny Manziel and the Aggies, Alabama has outscored its last six opponents 246-26. Obviously, their monster game is next weekend against LSU at home. They should beat the Tigers but you just never know in this one. They will be heavily favored to close out their season against Mississippi State, Chattanooga and Auburn. Things could be interesting for the Iron Bowl if Auburn wins them all before then, making the winner of that game the West champion. But up to this point this team looks unbeatable. Alabama gets to Atlanta and beats South Carolina or Missouri for the conference title and plays for yet another national title.
|ARKANSAS (3-5, 0-4)|
|at Ole Miss||Loss|
|vs Mississippi State||Loss|
It's been a disappointment at Arkansas under first year head coach Brett Bielema, as the Razorbacks are winless in SEC play. Things don't get any easier for their final four games. They have two at home in Auburn and Mississippi State and two on the road at Ole Miss and LSU. They have found their running back of the future in freshman sensation Alex Collins. But they need to develop a passing game, which is currently worst in the league.
|AUBURN (7-1, 3-1)|
New Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has done a terrific job with the Tigers in his first season. Yeah, they lost to LSU but they have also taken care of business against some pretty good teams like Ole Miss and Texas A&M. And Auburn has done it with newcomers at quarterback in Juco transfer Nick Marshall and true freshman Jeremy Johnson. The other side of the ball is vastly improved under defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson. The Tigers will be favorites over their next three games but they can't afford to be peeking ahead for what could be a monumental game versus Alabama to finish the regular season. Arkansas, Georgia, and Tennessee will provide challenges for this Auburn team and I could see them slipping up.
|LSU (7-2, 3-2)|
|vs Texas A&M||Win|
The Tigers lost in a dog fight to Georgia and were upset by Ole Miss. Those were two road defeats by a combined total of six points. This is still a scary team, especially offensively. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger is the most improved player in the league. He has two big time wide receivers to throw to and an exceptional running game, led by Jeremy Hill. LSU's next road challenge doesn't get any tougher, as they travel to Tuscaloosa to face their arch-rival and top ranked Alabama. Then they host Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel. Les Miles will certainly have his hands full over those two weeks. I see the Tigers splitting those games and finishing as the top three-loss team in the nation.
|MISSISSIPPI STATE (4-3, 1-2)|
|at South Carolina||Loss|
|at Texas A&M||Loss|
|vs Ole Miss||Loss|
You don't want to be 1-2 in league play if you're Mississippi State and then hit a brutal November stretch where you face South Carolina, Texas A&M, Alabama and Ole Miss. They will also travel to face a desperate Razorback team. Dan Mullen is still looking for that signature 2013 win and it will have to come in an upset over the next month.
|OLE MISS (5-3, 2-3)|
|at Mississippi State||Win|
Maybe the Rebels haven't been a model of consistency this season but they have wins against Texas and LSU and right now they are playing some good football. They lost a heartbreaker to A&M before their upset of the Tigers. Certainly this program is ascending under Hugh Freeze and I see them closing out strong with wins against Arkansas, Troy, Missouri and Mississippi State.
|TEXAS A&M (6-2, 3-2)|
|vs Mississippi State||Win|
Johnny Manziel has proved to be no fluke, as he is putting together another Heisman like season. Wide receiver Mike Evans has proven to be the league's top wide receiver that no one can stop. This Texas A&M offense is averaging 48 points per game. The issue is the Aggie defense, which is giving up 32.6 points per game. Lets face it, LSU and Missouri can both score points and they play better defense than Texas A&M. But I still think the Aggies split their final two games against the Tigers, losing to LSU and beating Missouri.
SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Alabama beats South Carolina
Jamie has been covering college football recruiting since 1992 and is entering his ninth year with Scout.com and FOXSportsNext. He's currently a National Recruiting Analyst and Manager for the state of Florida. Jamie is also covering the NFL Draft for the network.Twitter |