The calendar has barely hit November and the SEC championship game matchup is already set: Alabama will meet Georgia for the league title.
It's the earliest in the season that both division winners have been decided since the league split into two groups in 1992.
Both are trying to remain focused before their Dec. 1 showdown in Atlanta.
"When you become lackadaisical, that is when you slip up as a team," Georgia offensive lineman Andrew Thomas said. "We are working to get better because we have to win out the rest of the way to be where we want to be."
No. 1 Alabama clinched its division with a 29-0 victory over LSU while No. 5 Georgia beat No. 11 Kentucky 34-17 to secure its spot in the title game.
While the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs try not to look ahead to the SEC championship game, the other 12 teams are playing with a sense of urgency with plenty of unanswered questions to be answered during the final weeks of the regular season:
KENTUCKY'S PERFECT 10
Kentucky's hopes of reaching the SEC championship game for the first time disintegrated with its loss to Georgia, but the No. 11 Wildcats (7-2, 5-2 SEC) still have a chance to post their first 10-win season since 1977. A 10-2 finish would make Kentucky a prime candidate for a New Year's Six bowl.
Kentucky's biggest challenge may come Saturday when the Wildcats close their SEC schedule at Tennessee, where they have lost 16 consecutive and haven't won since 1984. Kentucky follows that up by hosting Middle Tennessee and visiting Louisville.
One reason Texas A&M fired coach Kevin Sumlin after last season was the Aggies always seemed to fall apart in November. Turns out the new coach might have the same problem.
First-year Coach Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies (5-4, 3-3) are trying to bounce back from a two-game losing skid when they host Ole Miss on Saturday.
"Learning to win is a learned behavior," Fisher said. "Learning to dominate a game is a learned behavior. And we have to put ourselves in those experiences as much as we possibly can to understand how to do that."
After going winless in SEC competition last year, Tennessee (4-5, 1-4) has a chance to become bowl eligible in Jeremy Pruitt's debut season as coach. The Vols must win two of their last three games -- they host Kentucky and Missouri the next two weeks before visiting Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt (4-5, 1-4) has similar hopes and travels to Missouri this week before hosting Ole Miss and Tennessee. Don't be surprised if a bowl bid is at stake Nov. 24 when Vanderbilt hosts Tennessee to end the regular season.
MOVING UP CHARTS
Lock has 11,089 career yards passing to rank sixth in SEC history. Lock has no shot at breaking former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray's SEC record of 13,166, but the Missouri senior should get to second place on the list.
Lock has three more regular-season games plus the possibility of a bowl game. Ranking second on the SEC's career passing yardage list is David Greene, who threw for 11,528 yards at Georgia from 2001-04.
Auburn's started the season as a top 10 team, but losses to LSU, Mississippi State and Tennessee sent the program tumbling completely out of the SEC title race.
The No. 24 Tigers (6-3, 3-3) have bounced back with recent wins over Ole Miss and Texas A&M and have a chance to get some even bigger wins when they face Georgia (on Saturday) and Alabama (Nov. 24).
GOING FOR TWO
South Carolina (5-3, 4-3) must win at Florida this week to post winning SEC records in back-to-back seasons for just the fourth time since entering the league in 1992. Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley says Muschamp has pointed that out to South Carolina's players.'
"It's just a matter of pride," Bentley said. "We've played this game since we were five years old and no one likes to lose. It's about just taking a stand and doing whatever it takes to get wins."
Sports on 11/08/2018
Print Headline: Lots of drama left in conference play