Does SEC East Shake-Up Have Any Impact on Alabama's 3-Peat Bid?

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistOctober 19, 2013

The SEC East, which has slowly completed its decay into "SEC Light," watched all three of its preseason favorites lose on Saturday afternoon.

Georgia blew a 13-point fourth-quarter lead at Vanderbilt, South Carolina lost as time expired at Tennessee and Florida got drilled at upstart/new front-runner Missouri.

According to Mark Long of the Associated Press, it was the first time Georgia, Florida and South Carolina had lost on the same day since 2004:

Saturday's shake-up, quite obviously, had major ramifications in the SEC East standings, which currently stand as follows:

SEC East Standings
TeamRecordSEC Record
South Carolina5-23-2
Source: ESPN

But does what happened in Week 8 have upshots beyond just one division? Does it affect the SEC at large and, by extension, the BCS National Championship race?

Does it alter Alabama's chances of a three-peat?

In a word: no. Or at least not really. The fate of Alabama's potential SEC Championship Game foes is different, but the Tide are in roughly the same spot.

For starters, Nick Saban and Co. still control their own destiny. They still have a zero in the loss column, and they still govern their own fate. That was the case going into Saturday afternoon, and it remained the case afterward.

Some might argue that the upsets are a bad thing for Alabama, since USC, Georgia and Florida—all potential SEC Championship Game opponents—will now have worse computer profiles. If the Tide have one loss then beat one of that trio, it won't do as much for their SOS.

But those concerns overlook something very important: Missouri is now firmly in the driver's seat out East. It has a very difficult schedule ahead, so that might change in a hurry, but right now, two games up in the loss column, its chances look great.

And the Tigers, which have a great statistical profile and now own wins over Georgia and Florida, would be a great opponent—SOS-wise—for 'Bama in the SEC Championship Game. The computer numbers are still in good hypothetical shape.

As an actual, on-field opponent, Missouri might also be a blessing for Alabama to face in the SEC Championship Game. No matter how good the Tigers have looked, their ceiling is lower than how great South Carolina or Georgia might be come December.

As those teams start to get healthy, they have enough on-paper talent to make 'Bama sweat. Missouri is not worth taking lightly, and it will deserve next week's probable Top 10 ranking, but in frank terms: It doesn't.

The biggest threat to Alabama's three-peat isn't the chaos to the East; it's the two best teams still lurking in the West.

LSU has the talent to hang with anybody—on any field. And Auburn has enough talent to hang with Alabama—on its home field.

Those are two potential land mines that 'Bama still needs to cross.

There's no reason for it to focus any attention out East. That can only lead to distraction. For all intents and purposes, until December, that might as well be an entirely different division.

The Tide just need to take care of business.

If they do that, as they've been doing all year, nothing that happened on Saturday afternoon should matter.


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