Work to be done in SEC after showdown

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier's team controls its own destiny in the SEC's Eastern Division. Show caption
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier's team controls its own destiny in the SEC's Eastern Division.

We interrupt this buildup to the game between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama to remind you that this is not the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.

Perhaps it will wind up being the de facto SEC title game, but the formal one will take place Dec. 3 in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, and the Tigers and the Crimson Tide can’t both be there. In fact, it’s not even guaranteed the winner of Saturday’s game in Bryant-Denny Stadium will be in the Georgia Dome, though it’s likely.

Whoever wins this game will still have some work to do to win the SEC West Division. LSU, after a nonconference game against Western Kentucky next Saturday in Tiger Stadium, finishes SEC play at Ole Miss (2-6 overall and 0-5 in the SEC) on Nov. 19 and against No. 8 Arkansas on Nov. 25 in Tiger Stadium.

If the Tigers were to beat Alabama, which beat Arkansas 38-14 on Sept. 24, the Razorbacks could force a three-way tie atop the West by beating LSU. If the Tigers were to beat Alabama and Auburn, they would win the West regardless of what they do against Ole Miss.

If the Crimson Tide beats LSU, it can wrap up the West by winning at Mississippi State (1-4) next Saturday or at Auburn on Nov. 26. Alabama also has a non-conference game left, against Georgia Southern on Nov. 19.

Whoever wins the West figures to be a fairly substantial favorite in the SEC title game, but they will still have to face a team good enough to have won the other half of the conference that has produced the past five BCS champions. That opponent could be Georgia playing what would be practically a home game in Atlanta.

The Bulldogs (6-2 and 5-1), though, need help because they would lose a tiebreaker to South Carolina (7-1 and 5-1) by virtue of the Gamecocks’ 45-42 victory against Georgia on Sept. 10 in Athens.

South Carolina plays at Arkansas this week and at home against Florida next week. The Gamecocks also have nonconference games against The Citadel (Nov. 19) and Clemson (Nov. 26).

You may now return to your LSU-Alabama buildup.