How will the West be won?

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 5, 2014

At this point in the college football season, there doesn’t seem to be much doubt that the best division in the country is the SEC West. I’m willing to listen to any arguments against that point, but the fact that three of the four teams in the first playoff ranking came from the SEC West seems conclusive.

Another stat that’s hard to top: the teams in the SEC West are 33-1 in games played against teams not in the division, the lone loss occurring when last place Arkansas lost to a Georgia team that will probably end up winning the SEC East. Essentially, if these seven teams don’t play each other, then they aren’t losing.

In fact, top-ranked Mississippi State has not lost at all. At 8-0, the Bulldogs are a clear favorite to win the division, but with two tough away games against Alabama and Ole Miss still to play, it’s still a little too early to start packing the bags for Atlanta.

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SEC cannibalism is alive and well. We are only a few plausible upsets away from the possibility of a massive 5-way tie scenario. For this to happen, the key games in question would have to end like this: LSU beats Alabama, Alabama defeats Auburn and Mississippi State, Ole Miss wins the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State. All of the teams that have to win in those scenarios are playing their key games at home, and they will be favored in every other game on their schedule.

With every team sitting atop the conference at 10-2, a number of tiebreaker procedures would have to be implemented, including the cross-divisional record of opponents. And this is just the most chaotic scenario. Many more possibilities exist for 4-way and 3-way ties as well.

If you think any of this seems unlikely, remember the 2007 season and look at the list of key games listed above one more time. Is it really that crazy?