Yes, Alabama has secured its third consecutive SEC West championship.
Yes, the Crimson Tide will be overwhelming favorites to win the league and represent the conference in the College Football Playoff once again. But no, that doesn’t mean all of the intrigue is gone from the rest of this season in the SEC.
There’s still the matter of crowning an East Division champion and much of the conference still has plenty to play for this season. With all of that in mind, here are the 5 biggest SEC games remaining this season.
1. Florida at LSU
Saturday, Nov. 19, 1 p.m. ET
Why it matters: With Alabama having secured the SEC West Division championship, the only drama that remains regarding the SEC Championship Game resides in the East.
Florida can punch its ticket to a second-straight title game appearance. But the Gators must win in Baton Rouge, where they haven’t won since 2009.
Making things even more interesting is an LSU team that looks revived once again, bouncing back from a 10-0 shutout loss to Alabama with a 38-10 thumping of No. 25 Arkansas Saturday night. Every game presents interim coach Ed Orgeron with an opportunity to stake his claim to the head coaching job at LSU, a proposition that would be bolstered with a win against Florida.
Then there’s the matter of the game itself, postponed from Oct. 8 as Hurricane Matthew’s impact on the East Coast forced LSU and Florida officials to postpone the game. The decision created friction between the two athletic departments. Any lingering tensions from that decision will play out when the two teams meet in Tiger Stadium.
2. Auburn at Alabama
Saturday, Nov. 26, TBA
Why it matters: The stakes are not what we anticipated, as Auburn’s upset loss to Georgia handed Alabama the West Division crown and robbed the Iron Bowl of championship implications. And undefeated Alabama could perhaps take a loss to Auburn and remain in prime position for a third consecutive trip to the College Football Playoff.
But neither of those circumstances will rob the Iron Bowl of its intrigue. The Crimson Tide will be looking for a third-straight win in the series, and better yet, will have an opportunity to put an exclamation point on one of the most dominant regular seasons in recent history with a win against Auburn.
3. LSU at Texas A&M
Thanksgiving night, 7 p.m. ET
Why it matters: Let’s face it. Every game with Ed Orgeron strolling the sideline as LSU’s interim head coach has a built-in entertainment factor.
Even further than that, though, the burgeoning rivalry game between the two West Division opponents will pack plenty of punch. It likely will be the final regular-season game of running back Leonard Fournette’s LSU career, at the scene of one of his most famous runs.
On the other side, Kevin Sumlin’s team has devolved from toast of the conference to possible train wreck in record time. Ranked No. 4 in the first College Football Playoff poll earlier this month, back-to-back losses to Mississippi State and Ole Miss took much of the shine off the Aggies’ season.
After a non-conference tussle with Texas-San Antonio on Saturday, Sumlin and the Aggies will welcome LSU and attempt to avoid ending the season on a 3-game conference losing streak.
4. Florida at Florida State/Georgia Tech at Georgia/South Carolina at Clemson
Why it matters: Maybe this is cheating, choosing this 3-game grouping that features four ranked teams.
Even so, these 3 nonconference games pitting SEC East teams against hated in-state ACC rivals are packed with pressure for the SEC entrants.
In Tallahassee, the Gators will look to end a 3-game losing streak to the Seminoles. In Athens, Kirby Smart will have his first chance to beat the Yellow Jackets. And in Clemson, Will Muschamp gets his first taste of one of the nation’s most bitter feuds.
5. Mississippi State at Ole Miss
Saturday, Nov. 26, TBA
Why it matters: After two years on the national stage, the Egg Bowl takes a step back prestige-wise this season.
Neither Mississippi State (4-6) or Ole Miss (5-5) are assured of a bowl game.
That will not lessen the game’s intensity, though. Both programs have breathed new life into their seasons with unexpected wins over once-No. 4 Texas A&M.
Both teams are getting a glimpse into their future at quarterback. Mississippi State sophomore quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has notched 24 total touchdowns while replacing Dak Prescott. Ole Miss freshman QB Shea Patterson exploded onto the national scene with an impressive come-from-behind win at Texas A&M on Saturday night.
Oh, and these two programs hate each other. Ole Miss could earn its first 3-game winning streak in the series since Eli Manning started at quarterback.