eade67d8-a597-11e9-951e-00163ec2aa77

Alabama junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Having multiple top-10 matchups each and every season is nothing new to the SEC in its rise to becoming the pre-eminent football conference in the land. But this week's huge contest of the top two teams in the AP poll — No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama — two of the seven remaining unbeatens in the FBS, takes it to another level. The Tigers will attempt to stake their claim to the SEC West title and stay atop the AP poll, while the Crimson Tide seeks to extend its dominance over the rest of the league with a ninth consecutive win over the visitors. Meanwhile, with Georgia in the driver's seat in the East and the winner of the LSU-Bama game having the same path to the West title, the rest of the league will be focused on finishing strong. Florida will be trying to stay within one game of Georgia, at worst, while South Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee continue late-season bids to become bowl-eligible.

Sheldon Mickles

The Advocate's rankings

1. LSU

RECORD: 8-0, 4-0 West

THIS WEEK: at Alabama, 2:30 p.m. Saturday

TV: CBS

LINE: Alabama by 6

STORYLINE: LSU is right where its wants to be, going to Tuscaloosa with a chance to stand toe-to-toe with mighty Alabama without having one hand tied behind its back for a change. LSU has been solid on the road in SEC play under Ed Orgeron, going 9-4 away from Death Valley.

2. ALABAMA

RECORD: 8-0, 5-0 West

THIS WEEK: vs. LSU, 2:30 p.m. Saturday

TV: CBS

LINE: Alabama by 6½

STORYLINE: Everyone is saying Alabama hasn't played anyone yet, but would it really be any different if the Tide had gone against three top-10 opponents like LSU? Bama may not have obliterated higher-quality teams like Texas, Florida and Auburn, but they'd still likely be unbeaten.

3. GEORGIA

RECORD: 7-1, 4-1 East

THIS WEEK: vs. Missouri, 6 p.m. Saturday

TV: ESPN

LINE: Georgia by 17

STORYLINE: Just when everyone was writing Georgia off after that inexplicable loss to South Carolina, the Bulldogs suddenly have their bite back. Beating Florida got them back in the CFP conversation, but they still have some work to do against Mizzou, Auburn and Texas A&M.

4. FLORIDA

RECORD: 7-2, 4-2 East

THIS WEEK: vs. Vanderbilt, 11 a.m. Saturday

TV: ESPN

LINE: Florida by 25

STORYLINE: Following its annual grudge match with Georgia, which put Florida in a bind in the SEC East race because of a second league loss, the Gators have a nice opportunity to rebound against Vanderbilt. Dan Mullen's team has an excellent shot at finishing 10-2.

5. AUBURN

RECORD: 7-2, 4-2 West

THIS WEEK: Open date

TV: NA

LINE: NA

STORYLINE: Perhaps still suffering the effects of that hard-fought battle with LSU, Auburn struggled last week and barely held off Ole Miss. The Tigers get a week off to rest, which is a good thing with traditional rivalry games against Georgia and Alabama coming.

6. TEXAS A&M

RECORD: 6-3, 3-2 West

THIS WEEK: Open date

TV: NA

LINE: NA

STORYLINE: Like Auburn, Texas A&M gets a chance to sit back this weekend after pushing its winning streak to three games. At the same time, the Aggies shouldn't get too excited with recent victories over Ole Miss, Mississippi State and UTSA — who are a combined 10-16.

7. KENTUCKY

RECORD: 4-4, 2-4 East

THIS WEEK: vs. Tennessee, 6:30 p.m. Saturday

TV: SEC Network

LINE: Kentucky by 2½

STORYLINE: Like a racehorse coming from back in the pack, Kentucky is making its move to make something of its season. It had lost three of four until a big victory over Missouri on Oct. 26 revived their hopes. After a week off, they get a Tennessee team that's making noise, too.

8. MISSOURI

RECORD: 5-3, 2-2 East

THIS WEEK: at Georgia, 6 p.m. Saturday

TV: ESPN

LINE: Georgia by 17

STORYLINE: After coming back to earth when its five-game winning streak was followed by two losses prior to an open date, Missouri has another problem this week. Georgia has already stumbled once this season, but the good news is Mizzou's won nine straight in November.

9. TENNESSEE

RECORD: 4-5, 2-3 East

THIS WEEK: at Kentucky, 6:30 p.m. Saturday

TV: SEC Network

LINE: Kentucky by 2½

STORYLINE: This is the game of the year for Tennessee, which has been trying its best to climb out of the 1-4 hole the Vols dug themselves to start the season. They are a healthy 3-1 since then with the only loss coming against Alabama, and they're clearly thinking bowl bid now.

10. SOUTH CAROLINA

RECORD: 4-5, 3-4 East

THIS WEEK: vs. Appalachian State, 6 p.m. Saturday

TV: ESPN2

LINE: South Carolina by 5

STORYLINE: This isn't a layup by any stretch of the imagination for the Gamecocks, who need to win two of their final three games to be bowl eligible. With games left against Texas A&M on the road and Clemson, losing this one isn't an option for Will Muschamp's crew.

11. MISSISSIPPI STATE

RECORD: 4-5, 2-4 West

THIS WEEK: Open date

TV: NA

LINE: NA

STORYLINE: After losing four games in a row and five of six, Mississippi State needed a break and the Bulldogs got it last week against lowly Arkansas. But if they lose to Alabama next week, they would have to beat Abilene Christian and Ole Miss to get to six wins and a bowl.

12. OLE MISS

RECORD: 3-6, 2-4 West

THIS WEEK: vs. New Mexico State, 3 p.m. Saturday

TV: SEC Network

LINE: Ole Miss by 30

STORYLINE: Ole Miss couldn't quite pull off the upset last week at Auburn, which means the Rebels must win out to go bowling. They should have no trouble taking care of winless New Mexico State, but they get LSU next week. That means the Egg Bowl could be their only bowl.

13. VANDERBILT

RECORD: 2-6, 1-4 East

THIS WEEK: at Florida, 11 a.m. Saturday

TV: ESPN

LINE: Florida by 25

STORYLINE: Coach Derek Mason was so fired up after his Commodores surprised Missouri on Oct. 19, but their momentum was lost during an open date. Another listless performance against South Carolina followed, pushing his team deeper into the SEC East cellar.

14. ARKANSAS

RECORD: 2-7, 0-6 West

THIS WEEK: vs. Western Kentucky, 11 a.m.

TV: SEC Network

LINE: Arkansas by 2½

STORYLINE: The SEC losses continue to mount for the Razorbacks, who have dropped 17 in a row in league play after last week's shelling at the hands of Mississippi State. The good news is the next conference loss has to wait because the Hogs host Western Kentucky this week.

Sheldon Mickles

Email Sheldon Mickles at smickles@theadvocate.com