SEC Football: LSU vs Alabama Isn't the Only Big Game Left
One of the great qualities of the SEC is the size and support of every fan base. However, if you did not know anything about the SEC, and you were researching them this week, you would think that there were only two teams—LSU and Alabama.
Even on Bleacher Report, the nation's premier sports website, eight of the top 10 stories on the SEC section is about LSU and Alabama. Perhaps most frustrating for the other SEC fan bases is neither team plays this week.
Despite what the mainstream media might think, there are several big games left in the SEC. The season does not end on November 5th. Here is a list of just a few of the top remaining games.
South Carolina @ Arkansas (November 5, 2011)
One of the biggest games of the season will take place next week, and it will have SEC Championship game implications. Both South Carolina and Arkansas still have legit SEC Championship game aspirations. At the time of this article, both teams only have one loss.
South Carolina currently leads the East because of a tie-breaker with Georgia. Arkansas, on the other hand, sits in third place. However, if LSU beats Alabama next week, the Razorbacks could force a three- way tie with a win at LSU.
South Carolina will be without their star running back for the rest of the season. However, Arkansas has looked like anything but a top 10 team the past two weeks. Regardless of who wins, this game will play a major part in who represents the East and possibly the West in the SEC championship.
Alabama @ Mississippi State (November 12, 2011)
On paper, this game should not be included on the list. However, Mississippi State is a much better team at home than they are on the road. The Bulldogs almost beat the eventual national champions Auburn last season at home.
They also gave LSU a run for their money earlier in the season. If Alabama loses to LSU next week, they will need to recover quickly or they could falter again—much like Virginia Tech losing to James Madison the week after the loss to Boise State.
If Alabama wins against LSU, they will need to remain focused so that they do not slip up in Starkville after an emotional victory.
Tennessee @ Arkansas (November 12, 2011)
If Tennessee loses this week, they will need this win to have any shot at a winning record. If they lose to Arkansas and South Carolina, the Vanderbilt game will decide if Derik Dooley has his fourth losing season in five years as a coach and his second straight with Tennessee.
If the Volunteers can win this game, it will lead to Dooley being able to coach with more freedom in 2012. A win would silence any talk of a 2012 hot seat.
The problem for Tennessee is the game will be in Fayetville. The Razorbacks have lucked far more effective at home than on the road.
Auburn @ Georgia (November 12, 2011)
The oldest rivalry in the south is always played late in the season. As a result, it usually has major implications on the SEC race. This season should be no different. The Bulldogs will likely be playing for a chance to represent the East in the SEC championship.
Georgia has won four of the last five, with the only loss coming last season as Auburn went on to win the BCS national championship. Both UGA and Auburn are young but growing teams. The game will be in Athens, where Georgia has won the last two.
In fact, in the 2007 game was the first ever UGA “black-out” game. While it is unlikely that we will see another blackout, the Bulldogs will need to come out with some of the same intensity if they want to make it five out of six.
Arkansas @ LSU
Few teams have had success against LSU that Arkansas has in recent years. The Razorbacks have won three of the last four games against the Tigers including a 31-23 victory last season.
Regardless of what happens next week between LSU and Alabama, the winner of this game will likely get a BCS bowl bid. If the Tigers defeat the Tide, they will be playing for a shot at the national championship.
If the Tigers lose next week, the winner is likely to play in the Sugar Bowl. The game is in Baton Rouge, which gives the Tigers an advantage. However, they have split the last two games at LSU, with the games being decided by a total of five points.
Alabama @ Aubrun
Regardless of their records, there is always plenty to play for in November for the Crimson Tide of Alabama and the Tigers of Auburn. This is another game, which on paper, should not be close. However, if history has taught us anything, this game is not played on paper.
Fans only need to lock back at the 2009 Alabama championship season and remember how close they were to losing this game. Had Auburn been able to make a stop on Alabama’s final drive, the SEC streak would not be intact.
If Auburn wants to have any shot of winning this game, they will need to settle the situation at quarterback. If they can do that, don’t count the Tigers out just yet. I am sure Gus Malzahn has a few plays saved just for this game.