There has been one rivalry that has stood above the others in the SEC championship game and that is Alabama vs. Florida. Out of 19 SEC championship games, the Gators and Tide have squared off seven times.
Despite dozens of possible matchups, these two teams have played 37 percent of the possible games. However, there might be another series getting ready to take center stage. That is the matchup of the LSU Tigers and the Georgia Bulldogs.
With a Georgia win over Kentucky tomorrow, this season’s SEC championship game will be all but set. Yes, LSU could still lose to Arkansas but they are likely to still go to the championship game.
It has been discussed to the point of nausea, but Arkansas is unlikely to jump Alabama because of their weak out-of-conference schedule. Even if Alabama jumped LSU, which is unlikely, they would still go to the championship game.
But for argument's sake, let’s just suppose that the Tigers will defeat the Razorbacks. This will make the third time in SEC championship history the two teams have squared off.
With that said, it appears many more could be in their future. Going into next season, both teams might be top five preseason teams. The Tigers will be returning the bulk of their talent while Alabama will be losing the strength of their defense. Arkansas will have Knile Davis back but all of their receivers will be gone.
LSU will be the clear pick to win the West and second place might not be that close.
The Bulldogs will be returning a lot of talent as well. With Jarvis Jones indicating he has all intentions on coming back, the Georgia defense, which ranks No. 4 in the nation, will have nine starters returning.
They will be in Year 3 of their defense under Todd Grantham and are only losing a defensive back and defensive end.
The offense will once again have Aaron Murray back under center. With four games left to play in his sophomore season, he has already scored 57 total touchdowns to only 16 interceptions. As a junior, he is likely to be a Heisman candidate.
The Bulldogs will be returning all of their skill players, including their leading receiver Malcolm Mitchell and leading rusher Isaiah Crowell, who will both be entering their sophomore seasons. They will be losing three offensive linemen, but they will have a lot of experience coming back on the line because of the early injuries.
In other words, LSU-Georgia will lead the Vegas lines as the 2012 SEC championship game participants.
Does it stop there? Auburn is young and Alabama will have talent, but LSU will still return a bulk of their talent in 2013. Not to mention, UGA’s top players will be returning once again.
The cold truth is that these two teams will be preseason favorites to extend this game three straight seasons.
Who can stop them? In the West, the answer is obvious—Alabama has to reload quickly. However, there are many uncertainties in the future for the Tide.
With Dee Hart possibly not returning and questions on whether A.J. McCarron has the talent to lead this team on offense, there are some serious question marks.
Don’t get me wrong. It only takes one Herschel Walker, Tim Tebow or Cam Newton type to turn the tables quickly. Auburn has enough talent to compete with anyone in the upcoming years, but who is going to be the offensive and defensive coordinators?
In the East, the Bulldogs could be close to running away with the division. Tennessee will be tough on offense next season, but they are likely to lose Justin Hunter, Da’rick Rogers and Tyler Bray, who are likely to be gone after the junior seasons.
South Carolina is going to be a one-man show next season with Alshon Jeffery and the defense gone. Moreover, it will take Marcus Lattimore a few weeks to get fully back up to speed.
The problem is they face Georgia the second game of the season. The Bulldogs are going to stack the box and dare Connor Shaw to beat them.
Florida has the talent but does anyone believe they have the coaching? I am not saying that they do not, but Will Muschamp and Co. have a lot to prove. Can they stop the potential UGA run? Absolutely. Will they stop the potential UGA run? At this point, I would say no.
There is a lot of football left to be played. We do not know for sure that these two teams will even be in this year’s SEC championship. However, it is not a stretch to believe that these two teams are going to reign over the SEC for the next several seasons.
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