The Road Map to the SEC West into the Four Team Playoff…
Mississippi State – Record: 9-0 (5-0 SEC) – Next Game: at Alabama
Road to the Final Four: The Bulldogs are very close to a birth in the four team playoff. Defeat the Alabama Crimson Tide this weekend (no matter the Egg Bowl outcome) and win the conference title game and the Bulldogs will be in the playoff. Having won the SEC Western Division just once since the inception of the conference title game in 1992 (the 1998 SEC Title Game), Mississippi State can lock up the division title by defeating the Crimson Tide on Saturday. As you might venture, this is much easier task said than done, as the Bulldogs have won just two of it’s past nine visits to Tuscaloosa. With a loss to Alabama, the Bulldogs will have to defeat Vanderbilt and Ole Miss, while also having Auburn defeat the Crimson Tide in the Iron Bowl to win the SEC West Title.
Alabama – Record: 8-1 (5-1 SEC) – Next Game: vs. Mississippi State
Road to the Final Four: The word of November for the Crimson Tide is survive. With the strength of Alabama’s remaining regular season schedule and a birth/victory in the conference title game, the Tide will be placed in the four team playoff if they win out. Lose to Mississippi State this weekend and there will be no birth into the SEC Title game but still an outside chance at an automatic birth into the four team playoff with a win over Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Even with a victory in the Iron Bowl, if the fighting Dan Mullens’ defeat the Crimson Tide this weekend, Alabama will need the Ole Miss Rebels to take down the Bulldogs in the Egg Bowl to secure a birth in the 2014 SEC Title Game.
Auburn – Record: 7-2 (4-2 SEC) – Next Game: at Georgia
Road to the Final Four: Despite Saturday’s untimely loss to Texas A&M, Auburn’s chances of reaching the four team playoff are still not dead. Still ranked as the top team with two losses in the nation, the Tigers have a strong enough schedule to move back into the playoff picture with strong wins over Georgia and Alabama. Considering Mississippi State will not lose the remainder of their conference schedule; Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Alabama, the probability of making the conference title game is slim to none for the Plainsmen, so their help making the playoff will be needed outside the SEC. Auburn will need upsets from opposing teams playing TCU, Baylor, Ohio State, Oregon and Florida State. Last, Auburn’s out of conference victory over Kansas State has impressed the playoff committee. If all teams in playoff considering have two losses after conference title weekend, the win over Kansas State will certainly push Auburn to the top of the pile.
Ole Miss – Record: 8-2 (4-2 SEC) – Next Game: at Arkansas (Nov. 22nd)
Road to the Final Four: The Rebels probably have zero chance to get into the four team playoff if they don’t win the SEC. For that to happen and earn a birth to Atlanta, the Rebels will have to defeat both Arkansas and Mississippi State, while hope for the Georgia Bulldogs to beat the Auburn Tigers, Alabama to defeat Mississippi State and Auburn to beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Having the tie breaker over the Alabama Crimson Tide will allow the Ole Miss Rebels to get the birth into the SEC Title game.
Auburn’s Options at Wide Receiver Against UGA: Last weekend Auburn fans thought the Plainsmen lost their best wide receiver for the season, due to a horrifying injury that could possibly cause an early end to his career. Thankfully the news got better as the week played out, as the injury to D’haquille “Duke” Williams was not as serious as first reported. Moreover, it is foreseeable that Duke Williams might even be back for the Iron Bowl. With a critical game against Georgia approaching in the 2014 edition of “South’s Oldest Rivalry,” below are the wide receivers that must elevate their game in this huge cross-divisional conference contest:
Sammie Coates – 20 receptions for 416 yards and two touchdowns
Reasoning: Coates was the top statistical wide receiver last year (without Duke Williams), and can revert back to this role in Williams absence. The upperclassmen is known for his speed and freakish athleticism but he also makes really difficult catches across the middle in key situations. Nick Marshall and Coates have chemistry, that element alone should be the key to the Auburn passing game against Georgia on Saturday.
Quan Bray – 25 receptions for 287 yards and three touchdowns
Reasoning: Bray played his best game of his 2014 season last weekend against Texas A&M, catching six passes for 65 yards and a touchdown. Bray has shown the ability to get huge yards after catch and is beyond dangerous when he gets the ball in the open field.
Ricardo Louis – 17 receptions for 185 yards and two touchdowns
Reasoning: Louis hasn’t broken through like many thought he would at this point in his career, but Georgia fans remember his name. He famously caught the 73-yard touchdown pass to beat the Bulldogs last year in what became known as the “Prayer at Jordan-Hare.” He’s also effective as a runner in speed sweeps, gaining 175 yards on 14 carries this season.