With week ten of the college football season in the books, a few thoughts:
Alabama: For the first time since the 2006 Iron Bowl, it can legitimately be said that coaching was a major hindrance in Tuscaloosa. Hey, we don't need no superstar tailback, we got trick plays, AJ McCarron, and Cade Foster damnit! Well, that's what Nick Saban and Jim McElwain thought, anyway. If Phillip Sims sticks around and sets his eyes on the starting job, it's possible he could take the starting job back from McCarron next spring; guys who cannot even manage the game against high-end opponents have tenuous holds on starting jobs. Can't say we know from first-hand experience what is the end result of losing the Game of the Century in this day and age, but it's hard to imagine it's anything positive.
Arkansas: Razorbacks get back on track after two ugly performances against Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, throttling South Carolina in a game that was not nearly as close as the scoreboard indicated (and it wasn't too close there, either). The Hogs still need to get through Mississippi State and a Bray-less Tennessee team, but those games seem like obligatory affairs. On the upside, though, this is a team that does match up pretty well with LSU; really not convinced the Flagship can win it in Baton Rouge, but it figures to be fairly close.
Auburn: Shoot the messenger if you want, but consider this: 'Bama needs Auburn to win and win big this weekend in Athens. For that reason alone odds are they wet the bed.
Florida: The Gators somehow snapped their longest losing streak in ages and should feel pretty fortunate about that fact. Vandy basically donated the victory late with mental mistakes, and Brantley's ankle flare-up has to be a big concern with Jadeveon Clowney and Melvin Ingram on the horizon. As bad as those two offenses look to be the first team that scores might have an insurmountable lead, but at least the Gators clinched a return to the postseason.
Georgia: If three tailbacks all fail the same drug test, should you not test the running backs coach as well? Seems like more than film review is taking place in those position meetings. Can this team beat Auburn this weekend? I'm not convinced just yet, it would easily be the best team they've beaten all season. Richt has basically resurrected his season in Athens with seven wins over hapless teams, so consider me unimpressed.
Kentucky: Insert favorite blind squirrel finding nut analogy here. Max Smith probably seized the starting job with a strong showing against Ole Miss, but strong showings against Ole Miss are the pity trophies of the modern day SEC. CoShik Williams has played lately like he should be on a better team than Kentucky.
LSU: For all the talk about the Armageddon scenarios that get 'Bama back in the national championship race, remember this remains the most likely: LSU wins the national championship by knocking off either Stanford, Oklahoma State, or Boise, and that probably holds true even if they lose to Arkansas in Baton Rouge in three weeks or if we can somehow finagle a rematch. Just a little reality check, folks.
Ole Miss: All the rumors of Houston Nutt's firing have kind of petered out after their apogee yesterday morning, but it's clear that he is gone and he basically admitted as such in his postgame press conference. The game was closer than the scoreboard indicated but nevertheless Ole Miss is the league's shortest midget. Nobody cares about that, though, listen up Ole Miss, we're willing to do awful things for you if you can upset LSU for us, capiche? There's nothing we will say no to, aight? Make it happen.
Mississippi State: Tennessee-Martin showed up, gazed for a moment at the gaudy scoreboard, took its beating and cashed its check at the local Regions on the way out of Starkvegas, just as planned. Best thing about this week for the Bullies? 'Bama is every bit as physically and emotionally beaten as they hoped. Probably the only hope for Mullen and company to pull the upset.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks had only 207 yards of total offense and turned the ball over four times on the road, yet still somehow managed to score 28 points? Playing Willy Robinson's defense has its perks, folks. On the downside, Carolina fell hard, lost control of its destiny in the SEC East, and may have lost Connor Shaw for this weekend against Florida with a concussion. In effect, Spurrier now needs UGA to choke at home and to beat Florida with a third-string freshman quarterback. Three points might win that one.
Tennessee: Dooley's dire warnings didn't come to fruition as the Vols secured an early 24-0 lead on the way to a snoozing victory, but the worst news in Knoxville is that Tyler Bray will not be back for the Arkansas game this weekend. In effect, it's a bowl play-in game against Vanderbilt in two weeks.
Vanderbilt: Another heartbreaking loss for the 'Dores, but as usual you have to tip your hat to James Franklin. I'll say this much: I hope Tennessee isn't smart enough to hire him in a couple of years.