The SEC West has emerged as the best collection of teams — in a division or league — that we have seen in college football in quite a long time. The SEC East? Not so much. But that doesn’t mean the race to represent the division in the league’s title game won’t be interesting.
As we head into October, you can make a case that six of the seven teams have a legitimate opportunity to win the division. Vanderbilt, at 0–3, is clearly out of the race. After that, it’s wide open.
Georgia is the most talented team in the division, but the Bulldogs, 1–1, have not played like a championship-caliber team in either league game — a three-point loss at South Carolina and a three-point win vs. Tennessee at home. Mark Richt’s team got a big break on Saturday night when South Carolina lost at home to Missouri.
Speaking of Missouri, the Tigers are the only team in the division without a league loss, and they have a key win at South Carolina. Still, Mizzou hasn’t exactly looked great in recent weeks. The Tigers lost at home to Indiana and were inept offensively until the final two drives Saturday night.
South Carolina is in a tough spot. The Gamecocks are already two games behind Missouri in the loss column and would lose a head-to-head tie-breaker with the Tigers.
Florida has issues on both sides of the ball — as we saw against Alabama two weeks ago. Still, the Gators, 1–1, have possibly the most favorable remaining schedule. They only have two more true road games — at Tennessee and at Vanderbilt — and they play LSU, Missouri and South Carolina in Gainesville. There is a difficult neutral site game against Georgia, but if Florida wins its home games and splits its two road games, that would give it at least five wins — which might be enough to tie for the division title.
Tennessee is much-improved, but the Vols aren’t good enough on the offensive line and have perhaps the most difficult schedule — including trips to Ole Miss and South Carolina sandwiched around a home date with Alabama — to be considered a serious threat. Still, I wouldn’t rule them out just yet.
And finally, Kentucky, which is a questionable non-call in Gainesville away from being 2–0 in the league with a win at Florida on its résumé. The Wildcats, at 3–1 overall, are halfway to bowl eligibility and still have home games against ULM (non-conference), South Carolina, Mississippi State and Georgia.
The West will continue to grab the national headlines — and deservedly so — but for pure drama, the East might be more interesting to watch. Stay tuned.