There's an old adage/cliche that runs rampant throughout sports... "When rivals get together, throw out the records". I find it particularly annoying, but it doesn't make it any less true.
In my summation of the Florida-Georgia game, I made three, incorrect assumptions: 1) The SEC East was overrated, 2) Because of #1, Florida having beaten the 2nd and 3rd best teams in the West (LSU and Texas A&M, respectively), must be much better than the rest of the East, 3) Mark Richt is only capable of getting his team to play over their head's when his job is on the line.
Shame on me. Bravo, Malcolm Mitchell, Bacarri Rambo (nice interception), and Jarvis Jones (three sacks and two forced fumbles!!). I apologize to everyone at sicemdawgs.com and all of Bulldog nation. I should've never doubted in the power of Gurshall.
Speaking of Bulldogs, I'm guessing the folks down in Starkville are a little less than impressed with their team's showing against Alabama. It happens. In a sea of change that is the SEC weekly offering, the only constant is Nick Saban putting an authoritative whipping on someone. Or is it?
To the rankings...
Last Week: 5-2
1. Georgia (2)
There's a new king of the mountain. With all the superlatives (Todd Gurley is a grown man!) and accolades (they pulled themselves off of the mat after the South Carolina blow out and continued to battle!!!) for the Bulldogs, deservedly so, the one thing that gets lost is that the win came in a game where Aaron Murray stunk.
The junior star turned the ball over three times (fortunately, Boomer Oslo resident whipping boy, Jeff Driskel, did him one better). Murray won't play that bad again. Which should be scary for their opponents moving forward. Starting with Ole Miss on Saturday. After that, only Auburn stands between them and a repeat trip to Atlanta for the conference championship game (they hold the tie-breaker over Florida). Pencil them in, they'll lose, and end up in the Capital One Bowl. Prediction: Georgia 27, Ole Miss 13
2. Florida (1)
It could've all been so different for the Gators. With the brutal schedule in the SEC, they would've had the inside track to the BCS Championship game. However, now, they'll have to try and sneak in through the backdoor (oddly, losing may have been a blessing in disguise as they can still reach the championship by winning out and having a Big12 team upset Kansas State, USC actually show up against Oregon and Notre Dame... that may be far-fetched, but its better than trying to get to the championship by beating Alabama in the SEC championship).
In another development, Jeff Driskel is cured of his turnover ailment. Excellent. Missouri gets the wrath of the Gators' fading title game hopes this Saturday. Their season will end in the Fiesta Bowl where, if they're still seething from this loss, they will blast Kansas State. Prediction: Florida 37, Missouri 10
3. South Carolina (3)
After battling back from a crushing ACL injury last season and a myriad of nicks this season, I really believed the tide was turning for Marcus Lattimore. The Gamecocks would finish in the Chick-fil-a Bowl and he'd head off to a late first round or early second round NFL selection. Now, not only is his season over, but possibly his South Carolina career (early reports have him seeking a redshirt). Regardless, a sad ending for a great player and, by all accounts, a great person. The rest of South Carolina gets the week off to prepare for the conference finale with the Razorbacks. Prediction: N/A (bye)
4. Vanderbilt (4)
Kudos to the Commodores for taking care of business. The Minutemen caught a hot team at the wrong time as Vanderbilt ran riot to their second-highest scoring game of the season. At this point, only two wins stand between the men of Nashville and an extra game at the season's conclusion (Liberty Bowl). This weekend, against lowly Kentucky, they should cut that number in half. Prediction: Vanderbilt 24, Kentucky 7
5. Missouri (7)
Congratulations to the Tigers for getting out of the basement (It wasn't particularly pretty...). I hope they enjoyed it because that'll be their last win of the season (Even Syracuse will beat them). Prediction: Florida 37, Missouri 10
6. Tennessee (5)
There is only so much credit that can be given for a loss. The Volunteers gave it everything they had (well, except for their effort to block Jad'veon Clowney in the second half) and it fell short. Props to Zach Rodgers who was transcendent. This team is about to go on a tear (hello, Gator Bowl!!) as their schedule breaks away from rank teams toward the Troy-Missouri-Vanderbilt-Kentucky. It should be four wins. Prediction: Tennessee 45, Troy 20
7. Kentucky (6)
The Wildcats managed 76 passing yards against a Missouri defense that was giving up nearly four times that amount a game. As I'm typing this, I'm listening to Bats for Lashes... that's more important than anything else going on with Kentucky's football program. Prediction: Vanderbilt 24, Kentucky 7
1. Alabama (1)
Well, that looked easy. I almost felt like I should've counted my prediction in their game as a loss. Close game? Yeah, right, given that the back-ups for the Crimson Tide outscored the Bulldogs.
Another week done and in the books and the main event is before us (no, I'm not talking about the Crimson Tide's shellacking of Louisville in the Sugar Bowl). Alabama versus Louisiana State. The Crimson Tide heads to Baton Rouge for their fourth game in four weeks to take on a Tigers team that has fourteen days of rest. It will be memorable, but history will repeat itself. Prediction: LSU 18, Alabama 16
2. LSU (2)
The stats only tell half of the story and, when teams are both great, it will come down to something else. Nick Saban is a great recruiter, a great defensive mind, and risk-averse (last year's contest saw him send out a kicker who had gone 1-for-3 in overtime).
Les Miles, on the other-hand, has trick plays. In fact, I assure you that Miles took on Penn State refugee, quarterback Robert Bolden, specifically for this game. I fully expect Bolden to get a dozen snaps and one of them will result in a touchdown. SEC Championship game and BCS National Championship await (I'm already at peace with the fact that the opponent will be Notre Dame). Prediction: LSU 18, Alabama 16
3. Texas A&M (4)
That's the way to right the ship. Johnny Manziel looked like the guy who had announcers gushing and making wildly, unseemly Tebow comparisons (Manziel is a much better passer and avoidance runner... He plays more like his Aggies' predecessor, Ryan Tannehill). Anyway, this weekend the bounce back finds them meeting a Bulldogs team headed in the opposite direction. The opportunistic Bulldogs defense will keep it close, but Ryan Swope and Christine Michael will give Texas A&M the edge in this one and on their way to the Cotton Bowl. Prediction: Texas A&M 24, Mississippi State 17
4. Mississippi State (3)
It was a tough loss and even worse to have to follow it up with a lethal offense in Texas A&M. For the season, teams that played Alabama lost 57% of the time the following week. The bright side is that this year's Egg Bowl is shaping up to be the best one in years. The Bulldogs should win it and head to the Outback Bowl. Prediction: Texas A&M 24, Mississippi State 17
5. Ole Miss (6)
The Fightin' Bo Wallaces are in great shape needing only one more victory to become bowl eligible (Music City Bowl!) after winning an elimination game with Arkansas (sorry, Tyler Wilson). Linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche continues to keep getting shade under a money tree (forced Kendrick Lamar reference for this entry) and this team is a great step in the recovery of the program. Except for this week. Prediction: Georgia 27, Ole Miss 13
6. Arkansas (5)
In previous entries, I had a semi-serious, running gag about the BBVA Compass Bowl excitedly hoping either semi-large fan bases, Arkansas and Auburn, respectively, became bowl eligible so they could play in the Birmingham-based bowl. However, with the SEC garnering three, BCS-bids, the good people at BBVA Compass are in a bind as they are the lowest on the pecking order and there are no more bowl eligible teams left. In this scenario, they would have to take a team from another conference that is eligible, but doesn't have an auto-berth (I'm thinking the MAC... Hello, Ball State). Yeah, the Razorbacks season is over. Prediction: Tulsa 31, Arkansas 27
7. Auburn (7)
Fire Gene Chizik? Well, when people start writing articles about the nature of your buyout and how manageable it would be for the university, it might be time to put your house on the market. This will be their last win over an FBS team (thanks, Alabama A&M!)... I use the term "FBS" loosely as New Mexico State isn't ranked in the top 115 (Editor's note: There's only 124 teams). Prediction: Auburn 45, New Mexico State 7