Spring SEC tournament features yet another Alabama championship appearance

Who says the month of March belongs solely to college hoops?

In the spirit of spring practice beginning, we thought it was time for a little mock tournament madness for the SEC football world.

This week, we’re using our current power rankings to create a conference tournament of our own. Our five ESPN SEC reporters were asked to give their picks on each matchup, with the team with the most votes advancing to the next round.

The first two rounds of the tournament saw a couple of intriguing games and one nearly unanimous upset.

Today, we bring you a couple more rounds before the real tournament begins on Thursday. We have the quarterfinals, semifinals and then the spring SEC championship in Atlanta.


(1) Alabama over (8) Arkansas

Edward Aschoff: Jalen Hurts might be the most motivated player in the SEC right now, and when he looks at that Arkansas front seven, he'll be salivating before slicing and dicing them up to advance to the semifinals. Alabama 31, Arkansas 10

David Ching: That soft Arkansas defense is gonna have a tough time slowing down Alabama's running game. Alabama 35, Arkansas 14

Sam Khan Jr: Every tournament needs a Cinderella, right? Put on that glass slipper, Razorbacks. Austin Allen throws four touchdown passes as the Hogs score the jaw-dropping upset. Arkansas 34, Alabama 31

Greg Ostendorf: The Crimson Tide's defense might not be as good as it was a year ago, but the offense should more than make up for it. Look for Calvin Ridley to have a big game. Alabama 35, Arkansas 21

Alex Scarborough: So much of the Arkansas defensive staff has changed, but too much will remain the same against Alabama which runs for more than 300 yards in the win. Alabama 45, Arkansas 30

(2) Auburn over (10) Kentucky

Edward Aschoff: All the hype is centering on an Auburn team that has a stud quarterback, an improved defense and a running game that should leave defenses silly. But we've seen this movie play out poorly before, and a more confident Kentucky team wins at the buzzer. Kentucky 27, Auburn 26

David Ching: Auburn's explosive offense helps the Tigers eventually pull away. Auburn 30, Kentucky 20

Sam Khan Jr: It was a fun run for Kentucky, but Jarrett Stidham, Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson steamroll the Wildcats. Auburn 45, Kentucky 17

Greg Ostendorf: I thought about riding Kentucky into the semis, but I believe Jarrett Stidham will be as advertised this season. Auburn's offense simply has too much firepower for the Cats in this one. Auburn 34, Kentucky 24

Alex Scarborough: Hello, Jarrett Stidham. The Baylor transfer throws all over the yard, racking up more than 400 yards against an inconsistent Kentucky secondary. Auburn 38, Kentucky 28

(3) LSU over (6) Texas A&M

Edward Aschoff: The Aggies make some big plays on this talented LSU defense, but it’s Derrius Guice who steals the show with a 200-yard rushing performance that sends LSU into the semis. LSU 31, Texas A&M 27

David Ching: LSU has never lost to A&M since the Aggies joined the SEC and the Tigers aren't about to start now. LSU 35, Texas A&M 24

Sam Khan Jr: The Aggies couldn't stop Derrius Guice last year and with no Myles Garrett or Daeshon Hall around this year, there's no reason to believe they'll do it this time. LSU 42, Texas A&M 24

Greg Ostendorf: Neither team has a bona fide quarterback, but unless Texas A&M's defense improves, Derrius Guice might run for over 200 yards in this one. I'm also assuming Arden Key is back. LSU 27, Texas A&M 20

Alex Scarborough: With no Myles Garrett and no Justin Evans, the Aggie defense won't be able to stop Derrius Guice and the LSU running game. LSU 34, Texas A&M 24

(4) Georgia over (5) Florida

Edward Aschoff: Death, taxes, Gonzaga getting bounced from the NCAA tournament early, and Florida beating Georgia. These are things you learn to live with in and life, and an improved Florida offense will escape a very talented Georgia defense. Florida 24, Georgia 20

David Ching: The Gators have run Georgia off the field every year lately. Hard to say why this time might be different. Florida 24, Georgia 17

Sam Khan Jr: With an improved Jacob Eason (and a Florida defense sans several key starters from 2016), the Bulldogs win the Cocktail Party. Georgia 24, Florida 19.

Greg Ostendorf: I know. Back-to-back SEC East champs. But the Gators still don't have a quarterback. Maybe that changes this fall. But at this point, I'm rolling with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Georgia 24, Florida 13

Alex Scarborough: Jacob Eason had a Hail Mary get erased against Tennessee, but that doesn't happen this time around as the sophomore QB makes his mark in the Florida-Georgia rivalry. Georgia 28, Florida 27


(1) Alabama over (5) Georgia

Edward Aschoff: Finally we get to see Nick Saban and Kirby Smart face off in a meaningful game. Georgia's defense keeps Jalen Hurts honest, but it's Alabama defense that forces a crucial fourth-quarter interception to head to the SEC championship game. Alabama 27, Georgia 17

David Ching: We might actually see this matchup take place at the SEC championship game in December. I don't see the real-life or imaginary version of this game going well for the Bulldogs. Alabama 40, Georgia 21

Sam Khan Jr: Jacob Eason may be a talented young quarterback, but he hasn't seen something quite like Alabama's defense. The Crimson Tide move on. Alabama 31, Georgia 10

Greg Ostendorf: There has to be an upset somewhere in this tournament. Why not Georgia taking down the three-time SEC champ? If only Maurice Smith was still around to come down with the game-clinching interception. Georgia 27, Alabama 24

Alex Scarborough: Jacob Eason might throw a couple touchdowns, but with Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and the Georgia running game kept in check Alabama pulls away in the fourth quarter. Alabama 34, Georgia 24

(3) LSU over (2) Auburn

Edward Aschoff: This game will all come down to who can run the ball better, and Derrius Guice will take another step closer to tournament MVP honors with a 150-yard game against Auburn's stout front. A late pick on Jarrett Stidham sets up Guice's game-sealing touchdown, his second of the day. LSU 23, Auburn 21

David Ching: LSU came within a split second of completing the game-winning touchdown pass last season on the Plains. The Bayou Bengals win the nail-biter this time around. LSU 23, Auburn 17

Sam Khan Jr: These two teams played a last-second nail-biter last September. A rematch should provide similar drama, but with more offensive fireworks. Auburn squeaks it out once again thanks a late fourth-quarter scoring drive engineered by Jarrett Stidham. Auburn 27, LSU 24

Greg Ostendorf: Auburn hasn’t had a ton of success against LSU in recent years, but it just feels like there are fewer question marks on the Plains right now. I’m riding Jarrett Stidham and the Tigers all the way to the finals. Auburn 31, LSU 21

Alex Scarborough: Like last season, this one will come down to the final second. This time, though, the touchdown won't be called off and LSU wins as time expires. LSU 21, Auburn 20


(1) Alabama over (3) LSU

Edward Aschoff: Months after that heartbreaking loss to Clemson in the national championship game, Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide won't leave Atlanta empty handed. Alabama's defense overwhelms Danny Etling (again) as a turnover-filled effort by the quarterback leads to Alabama breaking things wide open in the third quarter and leaves Derrius Guice a non-factor against the Tide. Alabama 24, LSU 10

David Ching: LSU has too many holes to fill with youngsters to expect this to be the year where the Tigers end their Alabama misery. Alabama 27, LSU 10

Sam Khan Jr: A bare-knuckled brawl as usual, this one is low-scoring and down-to-the-wire. Like he did in their 2016 clash, Jalen Hurts makes the difference leading late scoring drive. Alabama 17, LSU 14.

Greg Ostendorf: This is quite a run Ed Orgeron would have put together in what will be his first year as LSU’s permanent head coach. But it comes to an end in the finals. Nick Saban has had LSU’s number of late, and if you think Alabama won’t be good on defense because it lost four potential first-round picks, you’re crazy. Alabama 24, LSU 21

Alex Scarborough: Until I see proof of an improved (or competent) passing game from LSU, I can't go against the more balanced Alabama, which will reload on defense and possesses a multitude of weapons on offense. Alabama 24, LSU 13