- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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We've nearly reached November and it's no surprise that both divisions in the SEC are still up for grabs. It's some of the teams involved that might surprise you.
To absolutely nobody's shock, No. 1 Alabama remains the frontrunner in the Western Division. But who foresaw Auburn sitting alone in second place by this point? Likewise, Missouri, which like Auburn missed out on postseason eligibility last fall, is out in front in the East -- something even many Mizzou fans wouldn't have predicted in August.
Let's take a look at how the division races are shaping up with six weeks left in the regular season:
• We'll start with the obvious: if Alabama wins out, it will once again represent the West in the SEC championship game. The Crimson Tide (7-0, 4-0 SEC) is the only unbeaten team in the division. It hosts resurgent Tennessee (4-3, 1-2) this weekend and still must face No. 13 LSU (6-2, 3-2), Mississippi State (3-3, 0-2) and No. 11 Auburn (6-1, 3-1) in divisional play.
• Speaking of Auburn, first-year coach Gus Malzahn's Tigers actually control their fate, as well. After a win against No. 16 Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2) last Saturday and LSU's loss at Ole Miss, Auburn moved into sole possession of second place in the division. The Tigers should improve to 7-1 with a win against Florida Atlantic this weekend, sending them into the stretch run against Arkansas (3-5, 0-4), Tennessee, Georgia (4-3, 3-2) and Alabama. They will host Georgia and Alabama at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
• LSU needs to win out and for Alabama to lose twice and Auburn once. If LSU and Auburn beat Alabama and all three finish with two SEC losses, LSU would win the tiebreaker. Here is a further explanation of the SEC's rules on breaking ties within the division races.
• Texas A&M has already lost to Alabama and Auburn, so the Aggies are all but out of it in the West.
• Like with Alabama, No. 5 Missouri (7-0, 3-0) is the only unbeaten team in the East. In fact, the Tigers own a two-game lead over No. 21 South Carolina (5-2, 3-2), Florida (4-3, 3-2) and Georgia. Mizzou beat Georgia and Florida in the last two weeks, so it would own a head-to-head edge over either of them in the event of a tie. The Tigers still must face South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky (1-5, 0-3), Ole Miss (4-3, 2-3) and Texas A&M.
• South Carolina will make the division race interesting again if it beats Mizzou on Saturday. The Gamecocks lost head-to-head against Georgia, but still must face Mizzou and Florida in division play and Mississippi State from the West. They need to win out, including a win over the Tigers, and have Missouri finish with two conference losses to win a tiebreaker.
• Missouri probably must lose three times for Georgia or Florida to be able to win out and claim the division title. Missouri owns the head-to-head edge against both of them. Florida would have to beat Georgia and South Carolina, among others, in order to win out, but it would lose the first tiebreaker against a two-loss Mizzou.
• BUT if Missouri loses twice and both Georgia and South Carolina win out, the tiebreaker could get extremely convoluted depending on which conference teams defeated the Tigers. See the linked explanation of the three-way tiebreaker rules above.
4dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
5dEdward Aschoff and Greg Ostendorf