Who says SEC football isn’t a soap opera? Today, with football season fast approaching, we will take a look at some must-see SEC games this year. Some will play a critical role in determining the SEC championship; others are on this list simply because of the soap-opera value. But regardless, these are all games that you must see. So call off those wedding plans, tell the doctor to postpone that emergency bypass surgery, do whatever you have to do to make sure that you are in a place where you can see these games.
LSU – Georgia: This is huge. Win this one, and Georgia is looking at no worse than No. 2 in the entire country going into Jacksonville the next week–provided that Georgia is still undefeated at this point in the season. But with That Schedule, there are no guarantees for Georgia. You can’t rule out the possibility that Georgia will have a loss or two on the record by the time they come rolling into the BTR. If they do, then a loss here will effectively shut down Georgia’s bid for the SEC championship, let alone the national championship.
But this game is also huge from LSU’s point of view. By this point they will have already played tough road games at Auburn and Florida, both of which are eminently loseable. If LSU should slip up in one (or both) of those games, then a loss here would seriously damage their SEC West title hopes. On the other hand, a win will definitely go a long way toward solidifying their bid to win the SEC West.
Florida – Georgia: Last year’s celebration-on-demand by the Georgia players kicked this rivalry up several notches, and now there are several burning questions hanging over this year’s edition of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail [by order of Michael Adams] Party. Will Georgia repeat last year’s stunt if they score first? Will Florida try it if they score first? Will bum-rushing the end zone after the first touchdown become a new Florida-Georgia tradition? If either team attempts to duplicate last year’s celebration-on-demand, will the other team attempt to implement Steve Spurrier’s suggestion of sending some scrubs in to pick a fight and get a whole bunch of players suspended?
But even without any of this drama hanging over this edition of Florida-Georgia, it still figures to be very huge in determining the SEC championship, and possibly the national championship. Everybody is talking about Georgia making a run for the national championship, but Florida is getting a lot of love from the sports magazines as well. First place in the SEC East will be on the line, as well as position for the BCS title game. With Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow on one side and Knowshon Moreno on the other, this is going to be one for the ages.
LSU – Auburn: Auburn had LSU beat last year in Baton Rouge before Matt Flynn launched a Hail Mary on the last play of the game. Now LSU has to travel to Auburn, where they have not won since 1998. The winner of this game typically has the inside track to the SEC West title, and Auburn is hyped as a darkhorse contender this year. This is where LSU is likely to suffer their first loss of 2008. The last four games in this series have been decided by a combined total of 14 points, so this is going to be very interesting.
LSU – Florida: If Florida wins at Tennessee, then they will probably be 5-0 going into this one. Playing at Gainesville will be very tough for LSU, but they do catch a break from the scheduling: they have a week off to get ready, while Florida has to travel to Arkansas. This could be a very dangerous game for Florida.
Georgia – Auburn: How many times has Georgia required a win at Auburn to clinch a championship of some form or another? This year will be no different. Auburn, no doubt, will remember the smackdown they got in Athens last year when Georgia whipped out the black jerseys. You think they won’t be jacked for this one? Like LSU – Georgia, this could be a preview of coming attractions in the ATL the first week of December.
Florida – Tennessee: Everybody is talking about Florida and Georgia as the top contenders in the SEC East this year. But Tennessee thinks they have a shot too. And if they slip up and win this one, it will throw a whole lot of people’s calculations way off.
Auburn – Alabama: Assuming that Auburn makes it to this point in the season relatively unscathed, they will still have one last hurdle to clear to punch their ticket to the ATL. Auburn has now beaten Alabama six years in a row, and Nick Saban knows that his efforts as Alabama’s coach will not be fully validated until he has broken that string. You think Bryant-Denny won’t be a little geeked up for this one?
LSU – Alabama: On the other hand, it could be LSU that is in the position of needing a win over Alabama to get to the ATL. When Nick Saban took the Alabama job, it was great news for former Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco because it meant that she would then be only the second most unpopular person in all of Louisiana. And now Nick Saban comes to the BTR for the first time since taking the Alabama job. Already Nick Saban has said that he will travel to the game in his own vehicle separately from the rest of the team as a security precaution. LSU says that their fans harbor no ill will toward Saban, they are just looking forward to a good game. But LSU fans have been known to rock the buses of teams they DON’T hate.
Ole Miss – Arkansas: When Houston Nutt had finally had enough of people with way too much time on their hands making his life miserable in Fayetteville, he resigned. Later on that same day (or so it seemed), he showed up at Ole Miss’s doorstep and said something to the effect of “You need a coach, I need a place to coach, let’s do this thing.” Now, with Houston Nutt coaching all those players that Ed Orgeron recruited, Ole Miss is likely to be dangerous sooner rather than later. I’m sure there are a whole mess of Arkansas fans saying, “What were we thinking?”
Auburn – Arkansas: A few years back, Bobby Petrino entered into clandestine negotiations with Auburn at the Louisville airport to replace Tommy Tuberville. But then the word leaked out and everybody involved wound up with a whole bunch of egg all over their faces. Now Bobby Petrino is bringing an SEC team of his own up against Tommy Tuberville’s boys. You think this won’t be interesting?
BONUS PICK: Florida – South Carolina: In 2006 the national champion Florida Gators needed to block a field goal on the last play of the game to escape with the win the last time South Carolina came to Gainesville. You can be sure that Steve Spurrier has something up his sleeve that will keep this game close.