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Updated SEC East Projections Post-Missouri Upset

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Barrett SalleeFeatured Columnist IVDecember 9, 2016

Two months into the season, and the SEC East title race is as clear as mud.

Injuries, upsets and uncertainty has riddled the division for the first two months of the season, and that continued on Saturday night when Missouri kicker Andrew Baggett clanked the potential game-tying field goal off the left upright in the second overtime to send Missouri to its first loss of the season in a 27-24 loss to South Carolina.

As a result, the Gamecocks kicked down the door of the SEC East to potentially claim the title themselves, but also allowed Georgia and Florida—both of which also have two conference losses alongside the Gamecocks—to potentially walk through.

So where do we go from here?

The Bulldogs and Gators will meet next weekend in the latest edition of "As The SEC East Turns," which will essentially serve as an elimination game for the loser. While the loser will likely be out, the winner will still likely have to hope for a three-team tie atop the division. 

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier

Whether Florida or Georgia claim cocktail party supremacy, the winner will still have an uphill climb to finish the SEC season off without stumbling along the way.

Florida still has South Carolina on the schedule in Columbia with the Gamecocks coming off of a bye week. That's likely a loss for the Gators. Georgia has a road trip to resurgent Auburn in mid-November, which looks like a major hurdle to overcome for the Bulldogs. 

A team with two conference losses will play in Atlanta, and the most likely candidate right now is South Carolina.

If the Gamecocks (6-2, 4-2 SEC) can keep quarterback Connor Shaw healthy, they're likely to win their final two conference games at home versus Mississippi State and Florida.

SEC East Standings
TeamSEC RecordOverall RecordRemaining SEC Games
Missouri3-17-1Tennessee, at Kentucky, at Ole Miss, Texas A&M
South Carolina4-26-2Mississippi State, Florida
Georgia3-24-3Florida (Jax.), at Auburn, Kentucky
Florida3-24-3Georgia (Jax.), Vanderbilt, at South Carolina
Tennessee1-34-4at Missouri, Auburn, Vanderbilt, at Kentucky
Vanderbilt1-44-4at Florida, Kentucky, at Tennessee
Kentucky0-41-6Missouri, at Vanderbilt, at Georgia, Tennessee
ESPN.com

That is going to put an enormous amount of pressure on Missouri (7-1, 3-1 SEC), which is only "making the turn" while South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier's crew is well into its back nine. 

Missouri hosts Tennessee and then will travel to Kentucky in two weeks, which are both likely wins for Missouri. At that point, South Carolina will have wrapped up its conference slate, and the Tigers will know exactly what they have to do to win the division in games at Ole Miss and at home versus Texas A&M.

So Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel could—and likely will—hold the keys to the SEC East race.

Missouri could face off against former Big 12 conference foe Texas A&M needing to win to avoid falling into a tie with South Carolina without the tiebreaker. Manziel vs. Missouri with a Tiger trip to Atlanta on the line?

Not quite the game on rivalry weekend we expected to dominate headlines, but it could be the case.

So what's the end game here?

South Carolina will win out, Texas A&M will topple Missouri, South Carolina and Missouri will be the only teams with two conference losses, and the Gamecocks will fall to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, after Alabama beats Auburn on rivalry weekend.

That is, of course, assuming nothing crazy happens in the SEC East in the final month of the season.

But judging from the first two months, that's a mighty big leap.

 

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