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West as wild as ever in SEC

By By Will Bardwell / staff writer
Oct. 23, 2003
Ole Miss, LSU and Auburn each control their own destinies in the SEC West.
Beyond that, the race remains anyone's guess.
While Auburn and Ole Miss each have unblemished marks in conference play Auburn is 4-0 and Ole Miss is 3-0 history indicates that their perfections are not meant to last. Only twice has the West division champion been a perfect 8-0 Alabama in 1992 and 1994. In fact, the division's champion has been 5-3 in both of the last two seasons.
That is encouraging for the four teams with at least one loss, but also gives the division's two unbeatens a little room for error.
None of the West's six teams has been mathematically eliminated, but practically speaking, the road is much tougher for some than others. Alabama is 1-2, but due to NCAA sanctions, is ineligible for the title.
Mississippi State is also 1-2 in conference play, and a loss to Kentucky on Saturday would put the Bulldogs on the brink of elimination.
Arkansas too has a 1-2 record, but has played the hardest part of its schedule. Should the Hogs move to 2-2 with a win over Ole Miss on Saturday, they could move to 5-2 with wins against Kentucky, South Carolina and Mississippi State. That would leave Arkansas with only LSU remaining. Therefore, should both LSU and Arkansas each win out, the Tigers-Razorbacks matchup on Nov. 28 would determine the division's champion.
While Auburn is halfway to a division title with its 4-0 SEC record, the Tigers' path is much more twisted. In addition to a road game against LSU on Saturday, Auburn also faces a trip to Athens to face SEC East-leading Georgia on Nov. 15.
Also standing in Auburn's way is a Nov. 8 matchup against currently undefeated Ole Miss. The Rebels play Arkansas on Saturday and South Carolina a week later, with both games contested in Oxford. If the Rebels win those two match ups, they will head to Auburn on Nov. 8 with a 5-0 conference record
Even if Auburn loses to LSU on Saturday, a game between 4-1 Auburn and 5-0 Ole Miss would have a major effect on who ends up on top in the West but first, Auburn must face LSU in a game that will go a long way in determining who is best in the West.