Imagine this scenario:
It's Nov. 15. Auburn is visiting Georgia, while Alabama is at home against Mississippi State. Auburn, Georgia and Alabama are undefeated and ranked No. 1, 2 and 3 in the country -- in whatever order you fancy.
The second part of that -- the 1-2-3 sweep -- has never happened. But the first part has.
It was 1971, and I was 10 years old. Until that point, college football was something my dad watched in our den and uttered words he usually reserved for when he hit his thumb with a hammer.
But that season was different. It was an awakening. It was the year I became hooked on college football, listening to Auburn, Georgia and Alabama games on the radio.
See, my Dad's a different sort of college football fan. He absolutely loves all three schools, which would make for convenient upbringing for a sports writer who needs to remain neutral.
There was something else special about that season, other than Auburn's Pat Sullivan winning the Heisman. In the final weeks of the season, all three teams were undefeated. Auburn ended up giving Georgia its only loss, then Alabama did likewise to Auburn.
That's the way I thought it should be. Never before had all three teams gone into the final weeks of the season undefeated. And it hasn't happened since.
But it could very well happen this year. Sure, that's a long way off. There's still many challenging games ahead for all three, especially if Florida and Tennessee -- Bama's two East Division opponents -- are significantly improved. Alabama and Auburn both have to play Texas A&M, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Georgia still has all of its SEC schedule to play before Auburn visits Sanford Stadium in mid-November.
Certainly the voters must think so. Alabama is ranked No. 2, Auburn No. 5 and Georgia No. 6 in The Associated Press poll. Georgia is ranked No. 8 in the ESPN.
I never express partisanship. But this is different. I'm absolutely rooting for all three to remain undefeated until the Georgia-Auburn game. Despite the aforementioned opponents, the possibility of it happening has never been better than it is now.
Georgia is the trendy pick after the Bulldogs dominated Clemson in their opener. They played with precision on offense and passion on defense. Todd Gurley is healthy again and reminded everyone that he just might be the best player in college football.
Of the three, the Dogs have the easier path. They don't have to play LSU and Texas A&M. They have a week off to get back to Earth and prepare for a trip to South Carolina.
Alabama's path is slightly easier than Auburn's for two reasons: They have two relatively easy games -- Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss -- before Florida visits. Then they have week off before back-to-back road games against Ole Miss and Arkansas.
By that point, the Tide
should have settled questions at quarterback and on defense. And they better, with a succession of Texas A&M, Tennessee and LSU.
Many analysts want to read too much into the Tide's uneven performance against West Virginia.
But I'm not about to jump on that bandwagon. They still have great athletes, and they still have the best coach in college football.
Auburn's path is brutal -- a Thursday night game at Kansas State, and later a five-game string against LSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.
But as tough as that schedule is, the Tigers certainly appear plenty capable of handling it. Their offense is so explosive and versatile, the defense just has to make enough stops to win.
If all three can get through those games unscathed, it would set up a November to remember.
-- Guerry Clegg is an independent correspondent. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org