With week eleven of the college football season in the books, a few thoughts:
Alabama: 'Bama has gone from being effectively eliminated to browsing travel deals to New Orleans after only beating 5-6 Mississippi State and FCS Georgia Southern in middling performances, so consider 'Bama as big of a luck beneficiary as 2007 LSU and 2001 Nebraska. Trent Richardson might be the Heisman favorite. Auburn could be closer than a lot of people imagine, and all of the injuries are hurting the Tide badly. Even so, if 'Bama takes Harvey's Corner it's hard to see this team not reaching the Big Easy. Once there, though, 'Bama will need better quarterback and special teams play to upend LSU in the Rematch of the Century.
Arkansas: Give the Hogs credit, they smashed Mississippi State six ways from Sunday, which was something neither 'Bama or LSU could do. One more tip of the hat to Bobby Petrino: It's late November and he has Arkansas in the thick of national championship contention, which is something that I've ever been able to say of the Hogs in my lifetime. A win in Baton Rouge, even if not earning them a berth in Atlanta or New Orleans, could take this program to the next level. We'll see if the Hogs can pull off the upset, but they are easily playing their best football of the season and it would come as no major surprise if they once again proved to be purple and gold kryptonite. But can they pass the Tide in the BCS standings?
Auburn: Ugly performance against lowly Samford sees a 14-13 game late in the third quarter before the Plainsmen put it away late. Michael Dyer received the Trent Richardson treatment with 30 carries against an FCS school.
Gene Chizik's Ted Roof's defense gave up 338 yards of total offense, 19 first downs, and 16 points despite holding Samford 2-14 on third down. Very strange: Emory Blake played but didn't have a catch and only had one ball thrown his way. Gus Malzahn to UNC / Ole Miss rumors are everywhere, though he is denying them for the time being. As has been the case many times, Auburn looks to make its season by ruining it for the Tide. Make this the fourth consecutive Iron Bowl with a national championship directly on the line.
Florida: The Gators overtake Furman 54-32 after the Paladins raced out to a 22-7 first quarter lead. Will Muschamp's defense gave up 446 yards, though John Brantley and Andre Debose had career days to help the Gators earn bowl eligibility. Florida v. Florida State looks to be some god-awful ugly football. With Urban Meyer to Ohio State rumors running everywhere, how much of Meyer's "retirement" was really just his unwillingness to tackle what he likely knew was a major rebuilding effort in the Swamp? In hindsight, I'd say quite a bit, perhaps even the driving force behind that decision.
Georgia: This is the SEC East "champion"? 2007 Tennessee wants their asterisked crown back. And do UGA fans really not understand why they have earned almost zero respect with nine straight wins? Don't be surprised if Georgia Tech knocks off the Dawgs this weekend if Isiah Crowell is gimpy with the ankle injury. Anything is possible, I suppose, but an UGA win in Atlanta would have to qualify as the biggest upset in SEC Championship Game history.
Kentucky: The 'Cats lost with respect, which is the best they can hope for. Maxwell Smith will probably remember the UGA defense for the next couple of weeks. Time for the annual loss to Tennessee, which is the most well-known tradition in Kentucky football history. At least basketball season is finally here.
LSU: The Bayou Bengals beat 'Bama once and likely will have to pull off the clean season sweep to bring the crystal ball back to Baton Rouge. Better be careful getting caught up in Rematch of the Century talk, because Arkansas looks be close and the Hogs are likely better than anything else the Tigers have seen this year, Oregon included. Four consecutive knees by the third-string quarterback in the Ole Miss red zone late in the fourth quarter? Hilarious. LSU would have had a tougher game in Ole Miss had they squared off against their incoming recruiting class.
Ole Miss: Zack Stoudt's interception returned for a touchdown on the opening drive of the game may be the single worst pass I've seen in my lifetime. 19 passing attempts for Ole Miss resulted in 21 total yards and -7 points. Want some comedy? Watch Houston Nutt's response to the "Is this team motivated?" question on the ESPN broadcast on his way to the locker room at halftime. Lots of talk linking Gus Malzahn and Colonel Reb, but why Malzahn would walk into this nuclear winter I do not know. Ole Miss needs to sell the broadcasting rights to its games to Comedy Central. And for all of the talk about Archie Manning being on the search committee, what in the holy hell does Archie Manning know about identifying qualify football coaches?
Mississippi State: The bad news? Make that 0-12 all-time for Mullen against SEC West teams not named Ole Miss. The good news? Ole Miss is next. Dylan Favre is now rotating snaps at quarterback with Chris Relf injured, but with the Bullies only getting 211 total yards of offense against a Willy Robinson defense this offense packs the punch of an old woman on horse tranquilizers. UNC, Penn State, and others can't come calling soon enough, eh Dan?
South Carolina: There was a point on Saturday where it was legitimately possible that the Gamecocks were going to win the East on the very day they lost to the Citadel. Alshon Jeffery sighting this weekend, sort of anyway. Spurrier's offense looked decent, but it's still hard to imagine how this team is 9-2 and near the top ten. Clemson v. South Carolina this weekend could be ugly, though 'Bama could use wins in all of these ACC v. SEC match-ups this weekend just to make the conference have stronger showings in the BCS computer polls. Odds are this team embarrasses the SEC in Orlando or Arlington come early January.
Tennessee: Players stormed into the stands to celebrate an upset overtime victory in Neyland Stadium against Vanderbilt. Aren't you glad you lived long enough to see Tennessee football this bad? And with the Vols being the beneficiaries of a botched call at the end, hopefully they'll stop talking about LSU and North Carolina a year ago. Tyler Bray looked very shaky in his return, but with the obligatory win over Kentucky the Vols will go bowling.
Vanderbilt: Only Vanderbilt could lose a game because the wrong player blocked a kick. James Franklin figures to coach his way out of Nashville in the next year or two, but even so for all of the great work he's done sometimes Vandy is still just Vandy. A win this weekend against Wake gets the 'Dores bowl eligibile -- which would mean ten out of twelve SEC teams become bowl eligible -- and as mentioned above would help 'Bama in the BCS computer polls.