There will be a game. You know it’s coming. There will be a game you are ready to dismiss now that you will look back on when we get to the SEC Championship Game and say, “You know, that was the game that really changed the conference race.”
But that will be in hindsight, while this is looking ahead. This is trying to figure out the 10 can’t-miss games that will decide which teams reach the SEC Championship Game.
Once they get there, well, who knows what might happen?
But if you were to pick out 10 games to go to, 10 games that will decide the SEC, you wouldn’t go wrong with these 10.
Sept. 14 — Alabama at South Carolina.
It’s early and it could be special. We remember the last trip the Tide made to Columbia, S.C., when the Gamecocks ended Alabama’s 18-game winning streak in 2010. Alabama hasn’t lost a game against an SEC East team since.
Tickets are already going for close to a thousand dollars. That’s how big this game is. If the Gamecocks want to contend in the East, they could send a message with a stunner.
Oct. 5 — Auburn at Florida.
The last time these two teams played in Gainesville, Tim Tebow was a fresh-faced sophomore and Dan Mullen was Florida’s offensive coordinator trying to coach after an emergency appendectomy.
Auburn won then and hasn’t lost to Florida since 2002. Of course, they have played only three times since then. If Auburn is serious about contending in the West, this is a game the Tigers have to win.
Oct. 12 — Alabama at Texas A&M.
The word on the Aggies is that Jimbo Fisher’s second team is good enough to win a championship, but the schedule is brutal. They will already have faced one of the national finalists before getting to this game.
The Tide is already listed as a two-touchdown favorite, but A&M has the talent to make this an interesting day.
Oct. 12 — Florida at LSU.
We know all about the hard feelings between these two teams that have turned this into a true rivalry. This will be Florida’s first trip to Baton Rouge since the Gators’ stunning win in 2016.
If Florida is going to end Georgia’s short run, they probably will have to do what Georgia could not last year — win at LSU.
Nov. 2 — Georgia-Florida.
So now that the SEC is allowing beer sales can we go back to calling it the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party?
The two teams have won the East 19 of the 27 years of divisional play and most of those times the winner of this game has taken Atlanta, including the last four.
Nov. 9 — LSU at Alabama.
The odds are against LSU on the road against a team it can’t beat (eight losses in a row). But LSU thinks it has solved its offensive problems and has a team that can compete anywhere.
The most impressive thing about Bama is that the Tide has to deal with that target every game and handles it.
Nov. 16 — Georgia at Auburn.
Georgia has dominated the South’s oldest rivalry game by winning five of the last six and avenging its only loss during that stretch in the SEC title game. But the last three games in Auburn were two wins and a close loss.
Fans hope this game — this late in the season — will be as big as it looks right now.
Nov. 23 — Texas A&M at Georgia.
OK, so the Aggies get the Bulldogs after a trip to Auburn. But with A&M’s ridiculous schedule, will it have anything left in the tank?
That probably will depend on where they are in the standings. But this game could be even bigger for Georgia as far as the East goes.
Nov. 30 — Texas A&M at LSU.
And then the Aggies turn around and play at LSU. Who made this schedule?
We’ll never forget last year’s seven-OT thriller. Neither will LSU fans.
Can you imagine if things go right for both teams and this game is for a trip to Atlanta? It’s not far-fetched.
Nov. 30 — Alabama at Auburn.
It’s almost a cliche to put this one on here. The West could already be decided by the time these two hated rivals play.
But if it matters, it will be electric at Jordan-Hare. In a perfect world for fans, it will decide the division.