Troy at Ole Miss (11:00 a.m. CT, ESPNU)
Why It's Important: Because Ole Miss is Missouri's next opponent, basically. The Rebels have been hard to read thanks to both injuries and youth. They have a lot of talented, young players, but those players are young and therefore rather high-variance. This is a team capable of beating LSU with a depleted defense and flirting with losses to both Vanderbilt (on the road) and Arkansas (at home). Time to do some scouting.
Projected Score: Ole Miss 52, Troy 21
Odds of Ole Miss winning: 99.0%
Indiana at No. 22 Wisconsin (11:00 a.m. CT, ESPN2)
Why It's Important: At this stage, Missouri is most likely to end up in one of four bowls: Sugar, Cotton, Capital One, or Outback. It's always conceivable that the Tigers lose out and end up in the Gator or something similar, but taking odds into account, you're probably looking at one of these four. In either the Capital One or Outback Bowl, Mizzou would face a Big Ten opponent; Wisconsin's the best team in the B1G not named Ohio State and could quite possibly end up in either of those bowls. When Ole Miss-Troy gets out of hand, flip over to this one, especially since there's a common opponent (Indiana) involved..
Projected Score: Wisconsin 51, Indiana 28
Odds of Wisconsin winning: 95.4%
No. 17 UCF at Temple (11:00 a.m. CT, ESPN3/Gameplan)
Why It's Important: Because UCF is far and away the AAC favorite at this point, and because UCF is projected by basically everybody to end up in the Sugar Bowl. If Mizzou gets to New Orleans, the Knights will probably be waiting. So pull this one up on your laptop while watching the other ones.
Projected Score: UCF 48, Temple 18
Odds of UCF winning: 99.0%
At 2:30, the really important game begins (as do some others).
No. 25 Georgia at No. 7 Auburn (2:30 p.m. CT, CBS)
Why It's Important: This is probably the most important non-Mizzou game left on the schedule when it comes to Missouri's chances of winning the SEC East. If Auburn wins, then we're basically down to a two-team race between Missouri and South Carolina. Barring a Florida upset of South Carolina, then, we're basically down to "Mizzou has to win out to win the East."
If Georgia wins, however, the three-way tie comes into play. Assuming Georgia beats Kentucky next week, the Dawgs would finish 6-2 in SEC play. If South Carolina and Missouri also finish 6-2, Missouri wins the East by virtue of its 5-1 record in the East. (And if South Carolina loses to Florida, Mizzou obviously wins the head-to-head tie-breaker with Georgia.)
So yeah. Go Dawgs.
Here's the thing, though: Auburn really, really doesn't want to throw the football. The Tigers have been good enough at building a lead, or at least staying close, that they really haven't had to worry about that too much. Quarterback Nick Marshall has thrown only 39 passes in his four games since returning from a shoulder injury, and 23 of those came against Texas A&M. In wins over Florida Atlantic, Arkansas, and Tennessee, he's completed 11 of 16 for 163 yards.
Marshall showed early in the year that he isn't exactly inept in this regard -- he completed 23 of 34 passes and led Auburn on a late, length-of-the-field drive to beat Mississippi State on September 14. And while Auburn's passing game isn't elite, the Tigers still rank 36th in Passing S&P+ and 16th in Passing Downs S&P+. Still, the desire is to run. And run and run and run. While barely throwing, Marshall has rushed 29 times for 346 yards and three touchdowns in the last three weeks (he had 214 against Tennessee), and running back Tre Mason just keeps grinding away. After erupting for 178 yards in the upset of Texas A&M, Mason has averaged 5.6 yards per carry and 115 yards per game since.
But what if Auburn has to throw? What if Georgia manages to score a couple of early touchdowns and put the Tigers into a double-digit hole? They have only briefly trailed by more than seven points since the LSU game, and while their struggles in Baton Rouge were based partially around turnovers (three of them), there's nothing saying that can't happen again against an aggressive (for better or worse) Georgia defense. The first quarter of any game is important, but it could be doubly important in this one. [...]
So what happens now that Georgia's difference-makers are getting healthy? Gurley is back and doing Todd Gurley Things, Bennett is back, and Conley and Lynch are probably back. Auburn has had a solid season defensively -- 23rd in Def. F/+, 16th in Passing Downs S&P+ -- and can swarm if you fall behind schedule, but a healthy Georgia offense could reduce Auburn's 62-percent chance of winning (below) into something closer to 50 percent. Of the opponents Auburn has faced, only Texas A&M and LSU have offenses comparable to or better than Georgia's; the Aggies and Tigers averaged 7.2 yards per play and 38 points per game against Auburn.
Projected Score: Auburn 31, Georgia 27
Odds of Auburn winning: 61.9%
No. 12 Oklahoma State at No. 24 Texas (2:30 p.m. CT, Fox)
Why It's Important: If Mizzou ends up in the Cotton Bowl, it's pretty likely the Tigers will face off against one of these two former rivals. The winner of this game could certainly go on to win the Big 12 (especially if it's OSU, since the 'Pokes get Baylor at home next week), of course, and Baylor could drop to the Cotton with an upset loss. But we'll say these two teams are easily the most likely Cotton participants. When UGA-Auburn's in a commercial break, flip to this one ... or the next one.
Projected Score: Oklahoma State 31, Texas 26
Odds of Oklahoma State winning: 66.3%
No. 16 Michigan State at Nebraska (2:30 p.m. CT, ABC/ESPN2)
Why It's Important: Because if Mizzou doesn't face Wisconsin in an SEC-B1G bowl, the Tigers will probably face either Michigan State or Nebraska. You can find projections that bring Minnesota (and the Gator Bowl) into the mix, too, but these are probably more likely.
Projected Score: Michigan State 23, Nebraska 14
Odds of Michigan State winning: 74.3%
Florida at No. 10 South Carolina (6:00 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
Why It's Important: Because if Auburn beats Georgia, Mizzou's last chance for anything other than a "You've got to win out to win the East" scenario involves Florida beating South Carolina. Possible? Yes. Likely? Of course not. Also from today's SBN piece:
If it were applicable, I could point out to you all the ways in which Florida is still a decent football team. Despite injuries, the Gators still have the best passing-downs defense in the country and are in the top 10 in both Rushing S&P+ and Passing S&P+ on that side of the ball. And despite general offensive incompetence, the Gators are still well above average in terms of special teams and the field position battle. Plus, while South Carolina's offense is dangerous, it's also a bit flighty; Connor Shaw doesn't seem to play well unless he has to, and his receivers come and go.
The problems, of course, are that a) Florida's strengths were strengths last week, b) Florida still lost by 17 points at home to Vanderbilt, c) South Carolina's a lot better than Vanderbilt, and d) the game's in Columbia.
This Florida team has fallen apart. If the offense can remain a neutral entity, the Gators can win with defense and special teams. But the offense is an outright mess, with opponents figuring out quarterback Tyler Murphy and linemen falling to increasingly creative injuries. Oh yeah, and now Murphy's hurt, too.
If likely starting quarterback Tyler Mornhinweg can avoid mistakes, if running back Kelvin Taylor can occasionally find some running room, and if the turnover luck goes Florida's way, an upset is certainly conceivable. But let's just say that Florida bears some burden of proof here; do the Gators have any fight left at this point?
By Saturday night, we'll basically know whether or not Missouri has a mulligan left or not. A Florida upset of the 'Cocks would be tremendous. It's also unlikely.
Projected Score: South Carolina 24, Florida 10
Odds of South Carolina winning: 81.7%
No. 1 Alabama at Mississippi State (6:45 p.m. CT, ESPN)
Why It's Important: Because barring an Iron Bowl upset, Alabama will be awaiting the East champion in Atlanta.
Projected Score: Alabama 35, Mississippi State 6
Odds of Alabama winning: 99.0%
Fun with Win Probabilities
So basically, there are five games remaining that will decide the SEC East. Earlier this week, Rock M poster Kevin McKee outlined all of the different possible outcomes and the champion tied to each outcome. Let's take that chart and assign odds to it.
Here's are the win probabilities for each of these five games.
- Georgia at Auburn: Auburn 61.9%
- Florida at South Carolina: South Carolina 81.7%
- Kentucky at Georgia: Georgia 99.0%
- Missouri at Ole Miss: Mizzou 60.4%
- Texas A&M at Missouri: Mizzou 67.0%
(Mizzou's probabilities for each game went up slightly thanks to both Ole Miss and A&M looking iffy against inferior competition.)
So here's what that means for the division race overall: Missouri has a 64.8% chance of winning the division, South Carolina has a 30.3% chance, and Georgia has a 4.9% chance.
|Georgia at Auburn||Florida at S. Caro.||Kentucky at Georgia||Mizzou at Ole Miss||Texas A&M at Mizzou||East Champion||ODDS|
|Auburn||Florida||Georgia||Ole Miss||Texas A&M||Missouri||1.5%|
|Auburn||Florida||Kentucky||Ole Miss||Texas A&M||South Carolina||0.0%|
|Auburn||South Carolina||Georgia||Missouri||Texas A&M||South Carolina||10.0%|
|Auburn||South Carolina||Georgia||Ole Miss||Missouri||South Carolina||13.3%|
|Auburn||South Carolina||Georgia||Ole Miss||Texas A&M||South Carolina||6.5%|
|Auburn||South Carolina||Kentucky||Missouri||Texas A&M||South Carolina||0.1%|
|Auburn||South Carolina||Kentucky||Ole Miss||Missouri||South Carolina||0.1%|
|Auburn||South Carolina||Kentucky||Ole Miss||Texas A&M||South Carolina||0.1%|
|Georgia||Florida||Georgia||Ole Miss||Texas A&M||Georgia||0.9%|
|Georgia||Florida||Kentucky||Ole Miss||Texas A&M||Missouri||0.0%|
|Georgia||South Carolina||Georgia||Missouri||Texas A&M||Missouri||6.1%|
|Georgia||South Carolina||Georgia||Ole Miss||Missouri||Missouri||8.2%|
|Georgia||South Carolina||Georgia||Ole Miss||Texas A&M||Georgia||4.0%|
|Georgia||South Carolina||Kentucky||Missouri||Texas A&M||South Carolina||0.1%|
|Georgia||South Carolina||Kentucky||Ole Miss||Missouri||South Carolina||0.1%|
|Georgia||South Carolina||Kentucky||Ole Miss||Texas A&M||South Carolina||0.0%|
Most Likely Scenarios
1. Auburn-SC-Georgia-Missouri-Missouri: 20.3% (champion: Missouri)
2. Auburn-SC-Georgia-Ole Miss-Missouri: 13.3% (champion: SC)
3. Georgia-SC-Georgia-Missouri-Missouri: 12.5% (champion: Missouri)
4. Auburn-SC-Georgia-Missouri-A&M: 10.0% (champion: SC)
5. Georgia-SC-Georgia-Ole Miss-Missouri: 8.2% (champion: Missouri)
How will those odds shift throughout Saturday's action?
If Auburn beats Georgia...
South Carolina 48.7%
If Georgia beats Auburn...
South Carolina 0.5%
HUGE, HUGE game. And hunker down, you hairy Dawgs.
If Auburn and South Carolina win...
South Carolina 59.5%
This is obviously the single most likely, and least favorable, outcome of the four. But there's only a 60 percent chance of it happening, not 100 percent.
If Auburn and Florida win...
South Carolina 0.1%
If Georgia and South Carolina win...
South Carolina 0.6%
If Georgia and Florida win...
In the end, Florida beating South Carolina is both more valuable and less likely. If Florida beats South Carolina, then it's better for Missouri if Georgia also loses. But Florida probably won't win, and we won't know that outcome in advance. If Auburn wins, then all of the money is on a depleted, demoralized Florida team winning at South Carolina. So yeah ... go Dawgs.