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Week 11: Around the SEC, Part 2

Yesterday, we went over the first 3 games of the SEC schedule.  Today, we tackle the last 3 games of the grid.  And because we learn from mistakes, we aren't going to bury LSU's game in the middle or at the end, but instead we will lead with it.

Alabama 27
LSU 21

It still stings.  It really does, but we have to move on.  I've already given my thoughts on what we should do about the quarterback situation, which is to recap, we should start Jefferson against Troy so as to take some pressure off of Lee.

We all saw it.  We all know how it went down, but let's talk a bit more about it anyway.  I think there is much to build on with this loss.  The defense played very well, giving up only 5.2 yards per play, which sounds like a lot but is really outstanding when going against a good team.  The running game was there, except when we refused to pass at all, which explains why we kept passing.  We had to pass or we couldn't run.

We just need the QB play to improve.  It doesn't have to improve all that much.  It just has to get to where it was against South Carolina.  Even against South Carolina, Lee made mistakes, but he didn't KEEP making them, and he was able to put the ball to his receivers when they were open.

Anyway, we have a real chance to win out from here.  We get Troy who is 6-3 on the season, but hasn't beaten an actual good team.  Granted, we've lost our 3 biggest games, but Troy hasn't beaten a team anywhere near as good as Mississippi State or South Carolina yet.  Then we get Ole Miss and Arkansas, neither of whom are great but both of whom are capable of beating us if we're not at our best.

If we win out from here, we're on track for the Cotton Bowl and a possible 10-win season.  Just a few short years ago, a 9-win regular season and the Cotton Bowl would have been considered a wildly successful season for us.  We're spoiled, and we have to realize that not every season is going to go as hoped.  A lot of people predicted 9-3 for us this year, and that's exactly what we're getting, barring a late upset.

Auburn 37
Tennessee-Martin 20

At one point, this game was tied at 20.  Auburn scored quickly after that, and poured on a bunch of points in the 4th quarter to make it look more respectable.  A loss here, and the cries to fire Tuberville would probably have reached a fever pitch.  

As it stands, I don't think I would fire Tuberville at this point.  He's earned a bad season, in my opinion.  Auburn fans grouse about "only 1 championship in 10 years", but this is not Florida.  Auburn does not have the recruiting base that Florida, LSU, Georgia, or even Alabama have.  Things are tougher for them, and they have to recruit and coach-up a lot of projects.  That they have survived and even prospered in that kind of recruiting environment speaks of Tuberville's abilities.  At this point, I would be worried that another coach would relegate Auburn to a permanent middle class level, competing with the Kentucky's and the Ole Miss's every year for the Liberty Bowl.

Yeah, this year has been really crappy for Auburn, and a bowl game appears unlikely right now.  The good news is that Auburn's offense put up some serious yards in this game.  They got 452 yards while only throwing the ball 25 times.  

They sit at 5 wins, but close out the season against Georgia and then against Alabama.  It will be very tough to get a win out of either of those games.  Not impossible, but tough.

Florida 42
Vandy 14

This is the best team in the country right now.  Since their shocking loss to Ole Miss, the average score of their games has been 48.6 to 11.4.  And two of their opponents were in the top 10 at the time.  Our 30 point loss to Florida was actually the 2nd closest of the 5 games they've played since then.  This game was the closest, and Florida won by 28 points.  

Florida has a pretty tough schedule down the stretch, catching South Carolina and Florida State, both ranked, surrounding a cupcake game against the Citadel.

And then, regardless of what happens from here to there, they will play Alabama in the SECCG.  I think Florida controls their destiny to the BCS National Championship Game.  Only Texas can hope to match their resume, and if Texas makes it it will be because someone knocked off Texas Tech and there would be room for both Texas and Florida.  If Florida wins out, they will have wins over LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida State, and Alabama, at least two of which would be blowout wins.

This is a team firing on all cylinders, and if it wasn't for an incomprehensible loss, they would be the media darlings of the country.  

After starting the season 5-0, Vandy is in full-blown collapse mode, having lost 4 in a row, and are now on the verge of not making bowl eligibility.  They still get winnable games against Tennessee, Kentucky, and Wake Forest, but they are not playing well. 

Even if they get to 6 wins, they are not looking like an attractive bowl team, due to their lack of a signature win (only the South Carolina win looks impressive from this vantage point, and that's only because South Carolina has gotten much better since then), and their late season collapse.  Even if they win one of these, no one wants a bowl team that finished the season 1-6 in their last 7 games.  

The good news is that the SEC probably won't be able to fill all its bowl slots UNLESS a team like Vandy of Mississippi State sneaks in.