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SEC Notebook: West race quiet, not so in the East

The SportsXchange

With Alabama and LSU on bye weeks and Texas A&M stepping out of SEC play to take on Texas-El Paso, the Western Division race remained unchanged Saturday.

Unbeaten Alabama has a one-game advantage in the lost column over Auburn and a two-game cushion over both LSU and Texas A&M.

Of that group, only Auburn controls its own fate in the race. Win out, and the Tigers will play in the conference championship game.

But the first weekend of the final month of the regular season saw one team eliminated in the Eastern Division and another take the next step to its first division crown.

Florida's 23-20 loss to Georgia pinned a third league defeat on the Gators, mathematically eliminating them from consideration.

Missouri, meanwhile, retained the division lead with its comfortable 31-3 rout of Tennessee.

Both South Carolina and Georgia, each with two league losses, kept alive their shots at getting at least a share of the division title with their wins over Mississippi State and Florida, respectively.

"No doubt about it, it's good to be in a position to know we've still got a shot," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "We've got to continue to heal up and correct the mistakes."

Missouri may be in charge of the East, but the Tigers now face two games on the road (Kentucky and Ole Miss) after playing their last three at home. His Tigers, coach Gary Pinkel said, will have to bring their best because "OK is not good enough" on the road.

"It's about focus and concentration," he said. "It's about your goals, what do you want to be? We are close to having some great things happen, and you have to take care of your business."

FIVE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM WEEK 10 IN THE SEC:

1. Florida is scrambling for bowl eligibility. Usually, the Gators have already clinched a spot in the postseason by this time of year, but they must win two of their remaining four games (Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Georgia Southern, and Florida State) to get to the required six-win level this time around.

2. Auburn WR Sammie Coates is the man to look for when big plays are needed. The sophomore's 88-yard catch-and-run against Arkansas was the Tigers' longest play from scrimmage this season and raised his per-catch average to an SEC-best 26.6 yards.

3. Texas A&M WR Mike Evans deserves a little more love from Heisman voters. The sophomore caught his 12th touchdown pass of the year in the win over UTEP -- matching the school single-season record -- and he leads the SEC in receiving yards per game (127.4 average).

4. The trend has turned in Georgia's favor against Florida. The 23-20 victory over the Gators marks the first time since 1987-89 that the Bulldogs have won three in a row in the rivalry that annually is played in Jacksonville, Fla.

5. Quarterback is a risky position at Tennessee. Freshman Joshua Dobbs became the third different quarterback to start this season when the Vols went to Missouri with injuries having sidelined junior Justin Worley (seven starts) and redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman (one).
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