The countdown to confetti has arrived.
Believe it or not, we’re less than a month from the SEC championship game. Saturdays in November mean extra urgency, little margin for error for contenders and lots of scoreboard watching for hopefuls as the days pass before Dec. 3 at the Georgia Dome.
Earlier Sunday, we published a post about the possibility of a six-way tie in the SEC East. That leads us to pose this question: What are the five best possible SEC championship game matchups?
Below is a breakdown of games that would be most interesting. For the sake of this scenario, we’ll assume either Alabama or Auburn wins the SEC West.
1. Alabama vs. Florida
The SEC East is a circus clown of a division, but seeing the top two defenses in the league would be satisfying on a number of levels. Of course, the scoreboard operator would have to keep his or her coffee mug close to keep from falling asleep with the lack of scoring. (Think LSU-Alabama Part II.) But Alabama-Florida isn’t a matchup we’ve seen this season, and it would be fascinating to learn if the Gators could fare better after the Crimson Tide overwhelmed them in this game last year.
2. Auburn vs. Tennessee
The chaos candidate! Alabama and Florida lead their respective divisions at the moment. But it’s not a stretch to picture these two teams in Atlanta if Alabama and Florida falter late. (It’s possible.) Both Tigers coach Gus Malzahn and Vols coach Butch Jones faced heat at various times this season, so earning a trip to the SEC championship game would be a victory for both no matter the result. A win for Auburn likely would mean a berth in the College Football Playoff. And an SEC title for Tennessee? That would be quite the redemption story for Jones.
3. Auburn vs. South Carolina
Another chaos candidate! Yes, the Gamecocks are still alive. They would be the SEC East’s representative if a wild six-way tie for first place in the division happened. The matchup between Malzahn and South Carolina coach Will Muschamp would create buzz, given that Muschamp served as Auburn’s defensive coordinator last season. The Tigers’ running game is humming with an SEC-best 299.8 yards per game. It would be fun to see if Muschamp could come up with an answer to slow down that ground attack.
4. Alabama vs. Kentucky
Sure, the game would be terrible. Sure, Alabama might win by five touchdowns. Sure, most people would tune in and wonder, “What the heck is Kentucky doing there?” But you must admit, it would be cool to see the Wildcats win the SEC East for the first time. This is a vote for variety.
5. Alabama vs. South Carolina
Watching the sideline in this one would be more fun than observing the game. Both Muschamp and Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban are known to let their emotions boil over on occasion. Granted, there might not be much for Saban to complain about in what would be a cakewalk for his team. But this matchup would offer its own brand of intrigue in what would otherwise be a bleh game.