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Week 9: Around the SEC, Part 1

While we sit on pins and needles waiting for good recruiting news out of this past weekend, we analyze what happened in the SEC, and what it all means.  As we have said all we're going to say about Georgia @ LSU, let's look at three other games.

West Virginia 34

Auburn 17

When Auburn got out to a fast start, taking a 17-3 lead,  thought they were going to run away with this game.  Then they "opened up the playbook" and never scored again.  Meanwhile, the West Virginia offense was just too much for the Auburn defense.  They just did not have an answer for Noel Devine, or for Pat White (after he stopped throwing interceptions.

Auburn was reduced to being 4-4 overall, and remains 2-3 in the SEC.  The question now is whether Auburn will reach bowl-eligibility.  It looks like 6 wins might be sufficient to get you to a bowl in the SEC this year, thanks to some bad OOC losses that are holding down teams' win totals, but time is running out for the Auburn Tigers. 

They have a gimme in a couple weeks against Tennessee-Martin, but have to figure out how to beat either Ole Miss, Georgia, or Bama to reach 6 wins.  Ole Miss is next week, and if they don't get the win there, it could be very bad news.

The rumors around these parts are that Tuberville will not be fired regardless after this season.  His buyout is too big.  However, the rest of the staff, particularly on offense, probably faces the ax.

As for this game, it marks the first time that Auburn's defense appeared to feel the effects of what's going on on the other side of the ball.  Normally the defense has been outstanding, but this week, the defense seemed to lose its spirit.  That does not speak well of what's going to happen for the rest of the season.

Florida 63

Kentucky 5

You look at the box score of this one, and you just can't see how it got so out of hand.  Florida didn't have a rusher go for more than 50 yards.  Tim Tebow didn't go over 200 yards passing.  They got only 446 yards, which is great, but it's not 63 points great.  There was no big return.  There was only 1 turnover.  Florida didn't get all that many big plays or run a lot more plays than Kentucky.

But anyway.  Florida dominated utterly, and they kept their hopes alive for a berth in the BCS National Championship Game.  Obviously, the next game is huge, as it is against Georgia.

Kentucky is still sitting at 5 wins, and has games remaining against Mississippi State, Georgia, Vandy, and Tennessee.  I'm reasonably confident they can win ONE of those.  I'm just not sure which one.  Outside of Georgia, it's not really a collection of tough teams.

Duke 10

Vandy 7

Uh oh.  Maybe Vandy won't get that 6th win after all.   

Vandy actually outgained Duke for the game, but this was a story of turnovers and bad special teams.  Vandy missed 3 makeable field goals, and had a zero-yard punt that led to the game-winning field goal.  They also threw an interception in the final minute of the game when they were getting in range for (gasp!) another field goal, that could have tied it up.

This is a very disappointing loss for Vandy.  This is a game that, when they were doing the calculus for reaching a bowl game, they counted on having in the win column.  Now, things get tougher for them.  They're off this week, and then they get Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Wake Forest.  They have to figure out how to in one of those games. 

There are 9 SEC bowl tie-ins, and 9 teams with a legitimate shot at reaching them, but honestly we might not make it.  Auburn and Ole Miss are sitting at 4 wins, and they play each other next week.  The loser would have to figure out how to win two remaining games.  Kentucky and Vandy play each other, and the winner is bowl-eligible, but the loser will have a tough time.  Tennessee still has a shot, I guess, but they'd have to instantly start playing better on offense.  The schedule is favorable though, as they are done playing the best teams in the conference.  They would have to beat Wyoming and figure out how to beat two of Kentucky, South Carolina, and Vandy.  Not impossible, actually, but not easy.