Will they all hang banners in their stadiums? That’s what I’m wondering. Hold on, gotta take in a lung full of air to get this hypothetical out: If Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Vanderbilt all share the SEC East title, will they each commemorate the, um, achievement?
You see, we’ve finally discovered the one and only way the miserable East can redeem its rancid self this season: Six. Way. Tie. Because if you’re going to be bad, be the best bad. Be awful.
And awful (we prefer “hilariously inept”) looks like every team in the division – except extra-pitiful Missouri – ending up tied for first place, all of the also-rans 4-4 in league play. That scenario, although a bit of a long shot, still exists. Were it to happen, the tiebreaker should be a contest to see which head coach can put out an actual dumpster fire fastest.
So how do we reach Peak East? Like this: Florida (currently in first place) loses at home to South Carolina and at LSU, Tennessee beats Kentucky and Missouri but loses at Vanderbilt, Georgia beats Auburn and the Commodores sweep Missouri, Ole Miss and the Vols. That’s a lot, but not too much to dream.
Oh, and the surging Gamecocks would win on tiebreakers in that scenario. They, the Gators and Volunteers would all be 4-2 in division games, but South Carolina would take it based on wins over Florida and Tennessee. In fact, Will Muschamp’s new team, which has suddenly won three in a row, could also reach the SEC title game via four-way tie with those two and Kentucky.
But who wants that when we could have a six-way tie to determine who’ll be gutted by No. 1 Alabama on national television Dec. 3?
So sure, you could watch Mississippi State take on the Tide, No. 13 LSU play at Arkansas or Ole Miss start life without Chad Kelly at No. 10 Texas A&M on Saturday. Or you could root like hell for chaos while watching these four games feature the mighty East’s many contenders:
Kentucky (5-4, 4-3) at Tennessee (6-3, 2-3), noon on SEC Network: After winning 5 of 6 to get in the mix, Mark Stoops’ scrappy Wildcats blew a big opportunity to take over sole possession of first place in the division when they coughed up a fourth-quarter lead and lost to Georgia on a last-second field goal last week. Kentucky can still win the East outright with a win over the Volunteers and two Florida losses – but the Cats haven’t won in Knoxville in 32 years. And Butch Jones’ team, after three straight losses and a ridiculous run of injuries derailed them, has reason to hope again. Tennessee takes the East if it wins out and the Gators drop just one more.
South Carolina (5-4, 3-4) at No. 22 Florida (6-2, 4-2), noon on CBS: What took so long to go with Jake Bentley? If he’d been the Gamecocks’ quarterback on Sept. 24 in Lexington, when USC and its sputtering offense lost 17-10 to Kentucky, that might’ve gone the other way. In which case, this game against the Gators would be to decide the East. Better late than never, though, and the true freshman Bentley has been fantastic the last three games: 73 percent completions, 622 yards, six touchdowns, no interceptions. Now comes the real test against a Florida defense that suffocates opposing QBs and will have something to prove after the Arkansas debacle. Florida and Tennessee can kill all the fun multi-team-tie scenarios if both win this week.
Vanderbilt (4-5, 1-4) at Missouri (2-7, 0-5), 3:30 p.m. on SEC Network: The Commodores – thanks to a strong defense led by absolute freak Zach Cunningham (did you see his leaping-over-the-line blocked kick last week?) – have been much more competitive than their record indicates. They’ve lost by three points to South Carolina and a touchdown each to Florida, Kentucky and Auburn. Derek Mason’s team should inch closer to bowl eligibility against the hapless Tigers and caught a break (sadly, with the news Chad Kelly’s college career is over) in next week’s game against Ole Miss. That would set up a potentially huge finale against rival Tennessee. Please, football gods, let that game be for a six-way tie.
No. 8 Auburn (7-2, 5-1) at Georgia (5-4, 3-4), 3:30 p.m. CBS: This is probably the most unlikely result that is required for the six-way. The Tigers seem to be on a collision course with rival Alabama in an Iron Bowl that will have national-title implications. But the Bulldogs, while underachieving in Year 1 under Kirby Smart, are not without talent. They rediscovered the running game and rode it to a dramatic victory in Lexington last week. If nothing else, Nick Chubb-Sony Michel vs. Kamryn Pettway-Kerryon Johnson is a battle of elite running back tandems worth watching. And if all the other dominoes have fallen to keep hope alive for a six-way tie by the time this one kicks off, it becomes must-see TV.