With one month to go in the 2013 college football season, there’s still not much clarity in the SEC East. Missouri, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida are still in the mix, and each team has been forced to navigate through the season with key injuries.
Missouri was on the doorstep of winning the East Division last week, but South Carolina rallied in the fourth quarter behind quarterback Connor Shaw. The Gamecocks are 4-2 in SEC play and have a favorable two-game stretch to finish their SEC slate with Mississippi State and Florida coming to Williams-Brice Stadium.
Georgia isn’t out of the mix, but the Bulldogs have to beat Florida and hope for two losses by Missouri.
Who will represent the East Division in Atlanta? Athlon’s experts debate the SEC East champion.
After Beating Missouri, is South Carolina the Favorite to Win the SEC East?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
South Carolina’s win over Missouri significantly changed the outlook of the East Division. Had the Tigers won on Saturday night, a division title and a trip to Atlanta would have been a near certainty for Gary Pinkel’s team. Instead, it’s back to square one. South Carolina has to be in the driver’s seat for the division crown, as its final two SEC games – Florida and Mississippi State – are at home. Missouri is the only team with one SEC loss in the East, but the Tigers have to go to Ole Miss and still have to play Texas A&M. Although Missouri is clearly improved from last season, I think this team stumbles once in its final two games. Georgia was my preseason pick to win the SEC East, but I’m not sure I can take the Bulldogs to win the division, especially with a road date at Auburn looming on Nov. 16. If healthy, Georgia might be the best team in this division. However, I think the Gamecocks have to be considered the favorite after Saturday’s win at Missouri.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
South Carolina is in the driver's seat now with the critical tiebreaker over Mizzou. The Gamecocks have two games left in the SEC, and both contests are winnable home matchups (Mississippi State, Florida). That puts South Carolina in the SEC East clubhouse at 6-2, while Missouri will have two games left to play. The Tigers should defeat both Tennessee at home and Kentucky on the road to reach 4-2 in SEC play. But the final two games — after Carolina is finished with SEC play — are extremely difficult. Gary Pinkel's bunch likely has to win out to get to Atlanta and its hard to see Mizzou defeating both Ole Miss on the road and Texas A&M at home. Odds are Mizzou is 6-1 with Johnny Manziel coming to town on the SEC's final regular season weekend, so how much fun is it that two "Big 12" teams could determine the SEC East on the final Saturday?
Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
South Carolina certainly has an opportunity to win the SEC East, but I will stick with my original pick from the beginning of the season – Georgia. The Bulldogs will have to win out, which is very doable. I think Georgia will beat Florida this week, win at Auburn on Nov. 16 (the Tigers will be coming off consecutive road games) and take care of Kentucky to finish out SEC play. If that happens and Missouri loses two of its final four games (three of them are losable), Georgia will be back in Atlanta playing Alabama for the SEC title. South Carolina’s remaining schedule is very favorable and a Georgia stumble would put the Gamecocks in great position to win the division. But I think Georgia will win out and get the breaks it needs to once again win the SEC East.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Amazing how things have changed in the SEC East. A week ago, I was on the Missouri bandwagon, ready to see the Tigers head to Atlanta. This week, I’ve all but given up on Mizzou. Maybe it’s not a rational swing, considering the Tigers still have a lead in the division. But it’s tough to see Missouri regain the momentum to beat Ole Miss and Texas A&M to finish the season. If the Tigers held that 17-0 lead against South Carolina, they could have afforded a loss to the Rebels or Aggies. That’s not the case anymore. South Carolina has Mississippi State and Florida both at home and that’s it for the SEC. With Jadeveon Clowney rounding back into form and Connor Shaw proving he’s healthy, this may be the Gamecocks’ division to lose.