If September is the month where we figure out who the players are going to be in the divisional races, its final week will give several teams an opportunity to play themselves in or out of the relevant conversation. While there are no five-star conference battles and the biggest non-conference game of the week isn't as impressive on paper as it was last year, there are a handful of games thrown in here that could make or break momentum for teams that are playing on the SEC's second tier.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Arizona State at Georgia
Really, it's hard to tell if this one is going to live to expectations: Arizona State opens with Idaho State and LA-Monroe, so it's gonna be hard to see what they've really got. Their offense that was supposed to be dominant last year struggled mightily (though Chris McGaha is still around), but their defense should be very good.
Meanwhile, we've talked about Georgia's opponent in every week thus far, and after playing at Oklahoma State, vs South Carolina and at Arkansas, they draw the Sun Devils in Athens. Last year in Tempe, the Dawgs won 27-10. Hard to imagine ASU coming into Athens and getting it done on paper, but if the Dawgs are struggling and get off to a rough start and fail to play inspired football, this one could get very interesting. There's simply no margin of error for UGA in September.
OTHER GAMES OF INTEREST
Ole Miss at South Carolina (Thursday)
Arkansas at Alabama
Florida at Kentucky
LSU at Mississippi State
Gotta love the Thursday night SEC tilts...South Carolina will have already played Georgia and NC State, but this is the first big opportunity for Ole Miss to prove that she belongs in the championship conversation. If they do, they'll win in Columbia and possibly give Spurrier his second (third?) early season loss. On the flip side, if Carolina wants to talk about getting over the hump, this is a game they have to win. Games like this one, even in September, are about bowl positioning as well.
Three teams outside the SEC elite get a chance to pull an upset, two of them playing at home. Kentucky has a long history of almost beating Florida, but hasn't ever been able to get over the hump since the two teams were placed in the same division, and uh...this may not be the year either. Dan Mullen will have seen Auburn and now LSU in the early going, so it could be a rough start for him down in Starkville.
The best opportunity perhaps rests with Bobby Petrino and Arkansas - the Tide/Hogs rivalry has produced more close games since the league went to divisional format than just about any other. In Tuscaloosa, and especially if Alabama is able to beat Virginia Tech, the odds are stacked against the Piggies...but boy, would that be a huge boost to Petrino's tenure.
THE REST OF THE SCHEDULE
Ball State at Auburn
Ohio at Tennessee
Vanderbilt at Rice