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The SEC: Around The Conference

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I posted something similar to this earlier in the year, but I figured it would be best to let things shake out a few weeks before I posted it again. Here goes the latest rendition:

Alabama: Saturday was definitely a great day to bleed crimson and white, and now 'Bama is 6-2 and in control of their own destiny in the West. I don't think people should get too excited just yet because a win over LSU is going to be very, very tough to pull off, but the point remains. We are 6-2, and at the very least we should have two more wins coming. A worst-case scenario should have us 8-4, and that's really something incredible when you think of how, well, sh*tty this squad was when the Nicktator arrived. Even if we lose to LSU, though, we could very well still end up 9-3 and in the Cotton Bowl, which would be a great year, all things considered. Either way, two points: (1) 2007 marks only the second time since 1994 that we've beaten Arkansas and Tennessee in the same year, and (2) if we finish 8-4, that will be the fourth best season since Gene Stallings resigned over ten years ago. At this point, though LSU may bring a harsh reality, the sky is absolutely the limit for this program. I cannot wait until next year when we return around 17 starters and bring in one of the top recruiting classes in the country.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks annihilated the Ole Miss Rebels and are now 4-3, with a win coming this week against FIU this week. That will put them at 5-3 with another expected win coming in Fayetteville against Mississippi State. So that should be 6-6 and good enough for a crap-tacular bowl, with games against South Carolina, Tennessee, and LSU remaining. I'm going to go on record saying it: The Razorbacks will upset at least one of those teams, and perhaps two, so you better be ready to play these guys. They are out of contention for the SEC West, but they could spoil it for someone else, and Nutt is very much fighting for his job. It's just simple: the best running game in the country (complete with in my opinion the best SEC back since Bo Jackson) and a pretty good defense is going to yield an upset somewhere along the line, you may as well just get ready for it.

Auburn: The Tigers have to be hurting after a heart-breaking loss to LSU, but these guys are still a good team. The defense looks good, they've re-established the running game, and Brandon Cox played a fine game this past Saturday night. The schedule from here on out isn't too bad, and they are likely to at least split the Georgia and Alabama contests, which could put them at 8-4. You can forget this team making Atlanta barring absolute meltdowns from Alabama and LSU, but nonetheless it's still going to be a much better season that it looked like it would be after the third week of the year. The most interesting thing with these guys could be the possibility of Tuberville and Texas A&M. I don't know if that will come to fruition, but in all likelihood the aTm job will come open, and Tuberville will almost certainly be one of the top candidates. It's probably a more real possibility than the Auburn people would like to believe, and it would be one of the biggest stories of the off-season.

Florida: The Gators must be feeling good right now, considering Saturday was almost the perfect day for them. They went to Lexington and controlled the Wildcats, and then saw Alabama throttle Tennessee and South Carolina choke to Vanderbilt. Tebow is banged up at the moment, but I imagine he'll be ready to go this weekend after a week of rest, and they'll likely take it to the Bulldogs... again. At this point, there's really no reason to not expect them to make it to Atlanta. Georgia is terrible against these guys -- there is a reason the Gators are 10 point favorites -- and South Carolina won't likely be able to do anything with them. Two wins there will give them the division lead with tiebreakers, and that will do it. As long as Tebow stays healthy, the Gators will be headed to Atlanta for the second year in a row. And they will likely be looking for revenge.

Georgia: The Bulldogs got an off week this past weekend, but they have Florida coming up this weekend, and the odds of them winning that one are quite low. They have been terrible against the Gators since Dooley left, and Richt has not been able to change that. Considering that they have two losses already on the slate, I imagine they get at least one to three more losses with Florida, Kentucky, Auburn, and Georgia Tech remaining on the schedule. I figure a best-case scenario for these guys is 9-3, and the worst-case is 7-5. I really didn't think this team was going to be all that great coming into this year, and I should have stuck with that. Odds are likely that the Dawgs head back to the Peach Bowl again this year. Look out for them to take off next year, though.

Kentucky: This is a good team, but they are certainly not great. South Carolina shellacked them, and they were never really in it against Florida. That dropped the Wildcats to 6-2, and with games remaining against Georgia, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt, they'll likely drop one or two more games. It's definitely a good year for the Wildcats, but they are not a great team. They'll make a bowl game, and maybe they can build on this for the future, but all of the talk about them contending for an SEC championship, much less a national championship, was obviously very premature.

Louisiana State: The Auburn game went right down to the wire, and the Bayou Bengals still won despite one of the worst coaching decisions I've ever seen. The odds are that they beat Alabama in two weeks and head to Atlanta, but I really don't think they can win it all. In the past three games, this team has lost to a decent Kentucky team, and while they beat Florida and Auburn at home, they needed last-minute comebacks both contests, and all told trailed for about 112 of 120 minutes in those games. With that in mind, I just cannot see them going through Alabama, Ole Miss, Arkansas, likely Florida in the SECCG, and winning the BCS title game. And with that idiotic decision, I think Todd is on to something with the whole, "You can't spell 'Les Miles' without two L's."

Mississippi State: These guys are 4-4, but in all honesty they really haven't improved that much. Their showing against West Virginia was one of the worst of the Croom era, as they found themselves down 31-0 with 14:54 remaining in the second quarter. The schedule gets no easier from here on out, and unless they can upset either Alabama, Arkansas, or Kentucky, not to mention beating Ole Miss, they'll have another losing season. This team has played semi-competitively at times this year, but they haven't beaten anyone decent to date. There was the lone win over Auburn, but that was a fluke game that was essentially given to them by Auburn turnovers.

Ole Miss: The Rebels must have been so busy whining about the officiating in the Alabama game that they forgot that they actually had a game to play this weekend. In one of the worst games of the Orgeron era, an 0-3 SEC team came into Oxford and hammered the Rebels 44-8. It was 37-0 before the Rebels finally got on the board against the Arkansas' scrubs, and now Brent Schaeffer is back. Obviously, the Rebels are a better team than they showed against the Razorbacks, but they aren't particularly good. They may pull off an upset of somebody on down the stretch, but they are looking at another losing season. And as the Clarion Ledger was talking about yesterday, Orgeron may not be back next year.

South Carolina: The ugly loss at home to Vanderbilt should cement what I've been saying about this team all year long: they are not that good. It's a pretty good squad, but there is nothing great here. And the 'Ol Ball Coach's offense is nothing more than mediocre-at-best. They are currently 6-2 with losses to LSU and Vanderbilt, and the schedule doesn't get easier from here. I imagine they'll probably beat Tennessee this week, but with games against Arkansas, Florida, and Clemson remaining, I imagine that they lose at least two more, and perhaps even three more, games before it's all over. Long story short, look for 8-4 or 7-5, which is basically what they did in Spurrier's first two years in Columbia. All of those people who said that Spurrier would be good with the Gamecocks, but never great, look pretty bright at the moment.

Tennessee: As much as I'd love to say that we blew out a powerhouse Tennessee team, the Vols are nothing special at all, and we proved that on Saturday. They have a ton of talent, but some idiot coaches and not much of an actual team. At the moment they sit at 4-3, and it looks like an implosion could be in the works. SOS will likely rain on their parade again, and with games against Kentucky, Arkansas, and Vanderbilt remaining, I'm not sure that this team can even make a bowl game at the moment. Even if they do, I fully expect it to be a 7-5 or 6-6 finish with a trip to either Nashville or Shreveport. This isn't your older brother's Tennessee Volunteers, and honestly the real question now is when, and not if, Fulmer will resign / be fired. I guess you could say that Fulmer is about to be out of business. (Insert the biggest sh*t-eating grin imaginable here).

Vanderbilt: After a shocking, yet dominating, win at South Carolina, the Gamecocks sit at 4-3 with a game coming up against Miami (Ohio). And the truth of the matter is that they should be 5-2 with a win over Georgia. You have to give Bobby Johnson credit, he's doing really well in Nashville. And don't be surprised -- see Fat One -- if they pull off another big upset this year. If they can pull off a win against Miami (Ohio) this weekend, these guys are almost certainly going to make a bowl game. If he can do so, Bobby Johnson is going to be a candidate for a lot of head coaching jobs that will be coming open this off-season.