Quickly, because there's not much time today, but here are the current SEC East standings:
Here's what's going on in the SEC East with Georgia-Florida and South Carolina-Tennessee on tap Saturday (note: Vanderbilt is out of conference this week and all scenarios presume a Kentucky win over Mississippi State; if that doesn't happen, god help us):
|W||L||Division Wins||Division Losses|
|South Carolina||3||2||Georgia, Kentucky||Vanderbilt|
|Georgia||3||2||Vanderbilt||So. Carolina, Tennessee|
|Kentucky||2||2||-||So. Carolina, Florida|
The Simple Solution:
Scenario 1:Florida beats Georgia, South Carolina beats Tennessee. South Carolina and Florida are the only teams that currently control their own destiny, so it's pretty cut and dry if both win Saturday: the Gators and Gamecocks could meet in the Ball Coach Bowl for a pure division championship game in two weeks. Hypothetical wins this weekend would give both UF and USC head-to-head tiebreaker advantages over Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee.
I know you were told there'd be no math in this job, guys, but bear with us...
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In between wins this weekend and a winner-take-all showdown, though, the Gators and Cocks still have to deal next week with Vanderbilt and Arkansas, respectively, and presuming it's winning its own games, Kentucky would remain alive under this scenario if (and only if) one of those two loses next week, then beats the other the following week.
This is the simple solution.
Scenario 2: Florida beats Georgia, Tennessee beats South Carolina. Georgia is eliminated with a loss, period, and Florida is still in the driver's seat. If UF wins, Tennessee would have to win out against Kentucky and Vanderbilt and hope Florida loses one of its last two to Vanderbilt and/or South Carolina to avoid coming out on the short end of a tiebreaker; ditto Kentucky in its closing run against Vandy, Georgia and Tennessee (both of which are cooked with a third loss Saturday). Amazingly, Carolina would remain theoretically alive at 3-3 with the prospect of beating Arkansas and Florida and getting one loss from Kentucky in its last three or Tennessee in its last two. It's distant, but even if Tennessee beats USC, the Gamecocks can hold out for a three-to-five-way log jam at 5-3.
Actually, you could construct a couple not far-out scenarios at this point that end in all six teams finishing at 5-3. But we won't get into that.
Scenario 3: Georgia beats Florida, South Carolina beats Tennessee. Carolina is in the driver's seat. With a win over Florida, Georgia stays alive if it can also win its last two (thereby eliminating Kentucky in the process) and get help from Arkansas or Florida in beating South Carolina. This scenario would benefit Kentucky, too, by eliminating Florida, though the Wildcats would also need somebody to beat Carolina; a Georgia win makes the UGA-UK match in two weeks a pivotal game. Again, Tennessee is essentially done with a loss: it would have to win out and hope South Carolina loses both of its last two games, one of which is against Florida, who the Vols also need to lose a fourth game, meaning it would have to root for Vanderbilt to beat the Gators next week. Forget all that and remember this: Tennessee is essentially done with a loss to Carolina.
Scenario 4: Georgia beats Florida, Tennessee beats South Carolina. Kentucky and Tennessee suddenly control their own destiny, and set up a possible winner-take-all finale if both keep winning - this is the best result for the Wildcats because it takes out both of its current tiebreaker nemeses. Other than Vanderbilt, Georgia is in the worst position even with a win in the Cocktail Party because it's already lost to Tennessee and South Carolina, and needs help down the stretch against the winner of that game regardless. Remember this: Georgia has to beat Florida or it is finished, without qualification. UGA would fall to 1-3 in the division and no tiebreaker will save that.
Florida is in dire straits in this scenario, moreso even than if Carolina won as in scenario 3, because it would require the Gators to win out and hope for help against Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky, which is particularly unlikely because those teams all play one another over the last three weeks and somebody has to win those games.
Get all that? I didn't think so. My guess is you didn't even try to read it, and I don't blame you. The primer: Florida and South Carolina are in the best position if they keep winning and have a somewhat distant shot even if they lose Saturday, whereas Georgia and Tennessee are kaput if they don't pull it out this weekend. UGA and Tennessee wins would also help Kentucky, which the needs help to move past Florida and Carolina.
Just know this for certain: every team in the division - including Vanderbilt, if it finishes the four-game upset run it began last week against South Carolina - can still make the SEC Championship. They just have to keep winning. And, you know, catch the right break. It's not rocket science.
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For the record, I called this mess back in August. Well, not called exactly, but, you know, I suggested it, to an extent: "In the current cycle of program strength, weakness and turnover, the gap between [the traditional top three teams and bottom three teams] isn’t going to get any smaller than it is now."