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Standings shaking out in SEC

In the SEC only a week ago, there was real thought that the LSU Tigers would win the SEC West and be the odds-on favorites to win the national championship. Instead, things have drastically shifted, and not to the liking of those purple and gold supporters in Baton Rouge.

LSU was soundly beaten by the Alabama Crimson Tide last week, dropping them to No. 8 in the rankings for the College Football Playoff. It seemed a longshot that the Tigers would be able to climb back into the top four, but they got plenty of help on Saturday. Both the No. 7 Stanford Cardinal and No. 6 Baylor Bears lost in upsets, falling to the Oregon Ducks and Oklahoma Sooners, respectively.

All LSU had to do was beat the lowly Arkansas Razorbacks, and everything would be falling into place for perhaps both Alabama and LSU to make the College Football Playoff. Then, the Tigers went out and played flatter than year-old soda, ending any hopes of a national title with an ugly 31-14 loss at Tiger Stadium.

Quarterback Brandon Harris did his job, throwing for 271 yards on 35 attempts with a touchdown and just one interception, but the defense could simply not get off the field. LSU allowed 440 total yards of offense including 299 rushing yards on 7.5 yards per carry. It was a brutal showing for one of the best defenses in the country, and now assures the Tigers that they will be in a second-rate bowl come late December or early January.

Meanwhile, Alabama went on the road in primetime and beat up on the No. 17 Mississippi State Bulldogs, showing the world that the Crimson Tide isn’t going anywhere. Alabama won 31-6 on the road in Oxford, and now should be ready to roll into the conference championship game. The only obstacles standing in the way are Charleston Southern University and the Auburn Tigers, who will be ready and waiting in the Iron Bowl.

Should Alabama avoid a total collapse and reach the SEC Championship, it will face the No. 11 Florida Gators. Florida was able to dispatch the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday, 24-14. The Gators are not much offensively but have a hell of a defense, and should be able to slug it out in the trenches. The winner of the game will almost assuredly be in the College Football Playoff, while the loser will be sitting at home.

At the end of the day, Alabama is looking for its fourth national title under Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide are the favorite, but don’t overlook Florida. At this point, those two programs are the only ones that matter in 2015 for the SEC.

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