By now, even the most staunch supporter has to admit that the contest just didn't go their way.
Despite a dominance in the south, in the end, it just wasn't enough. All the excuses and finger pointing means little as the results were strongly in the outsider's favor.
Despite the final tally, those of us who witnessed the battle know the final margin felt like a lot more.
It was a clear pronouncement of change and a look at the future.
Texas A&M and quarterback Johnny Manziel shocked the world.
In only 10 collegiate games, the young man known as Johnny Football has gone from a fake id carrying pugilist to a legend. Last week, I wrote that Manziel was going to join the 2,000 passing/1,000 rushing yards club, but I forgot to mention that Manziel and Brad Smith (Missouri, 2006... ahead of his time) are the only freshmen members.
With two games left, Manziel is only 220 yards from being the only freshmen to go 3,000/1,000 (joining Vince Young and Dan LeFevour). It can be argued that he's having the greatest freshmen season of any SEC passer ever (the toughest competition seems to be, gulp, Jared Lorenzen). Pretty, heavy duty stuff. Though, the kid still knows how to party.
Besides the Tumult in Tuscaloosa, there was plenty of other noteworthy performances this weekend.
- SEC teams occupy spots 4-9 in the BCS Standings. Three teams in BCS bowls may happen even if the SEC are shut out of the national championship.
- James Franklin is back by popular demand with his own myth-making fourth quarter and overtime as Missouri upset Tennessee in Knoxville.
- Florida needed two late touchdowns to hold on at home
- Mississippi State went oh-for-three in games against ranked opponents
- Georgia, officially, punched their ticket to the SEC title game and ensured Auburn would have their first win-less SEC campaign since 1952 (unless they pull a miracle against Alabama).
Wow... And now, on to the rankings for the week I have affectionately dubbed "SEC invades the FCS!"
Last Week: 4-3
New Feature: Outside the Conference: I predict that Baylor upsets Kansas State this weekend. 38-34
1. Georgia (1)
Even after losing team leading receiver Marlon Brown and solid contributing defensive end Abry Jones, the Bulldog Express keeps on chugging along.
Much of the credit goes to Aaron Murray (7 touchdown passes the past two games), but some of it needs to go running back Todd Gurley.
Gurley has distinguished himself from fellow freshmen sensation running back Keith Marshall (who is having a solid, first campaign in his own right) with 973 yards on the year, the second most by a true freshman in Georgia history (there will only be one Herschel Walker).
Easy win this week against an FCS will see him go well over the 1,000 mark. Prediction: Georgia 48, Georgia Southern 0
2. South Carolina (2)
The Gamecocks took care of business this week in a solid, methodical manner. Quarterback Connor Shaw put up numbers early, and the defense, especially safety D.J. Swearinger and his 69-yard interception for a touchdown, took care of it late.
Running Back Mike Davis has been lightly used this season (Shaw is actually second in rushing on the team behind the injured Marcus Lattimore), and will have to step up to give South Carolina a shot in two weeks against their arch-rival, Clemson.
This week will be good to get him confidence as they take on an FCS team, too. Prediction: South Carolina 34, Wofford 10
3. Vanderbilt (4)
Congratulations to the Commodores for getting bowl eligible with a big win over Ole Miss. Early this season, I noted that Vanderbilt was a senior-laden team and it showed after their early season struggles. After starting the season 2-4, including a crushing, close defeat to South Carolina in the opener, Vanderbilt has rolled four straight wins off.
Hats off to quarterback Jordan Rodgers. I definitely have made many jokes about him (even questioning his status as the starter), but his resiliency is emblematic of their season. Being game against Tennessee this weekend. The Volunteers take it because they need it more.
For Vandy, it's only a matter of which game, Tennessee is still trying to get to bowl eligibility (as well as their first, conference win). Prediction: Tennessee 38, Vanderbilt 17
4. Florida (3)
Fatigue has been getting a lot of press this week (more on that later). However, there's no excuse for needing a miracle (two touchdowns in the final two minutes is, essentially, that) even if the starting quarterback goes down (quarterback Jeff Driskel... essential?). The Gators were 27-point favorites and were playing at home.
If the Missouri game would've been a disaster, falling to the Ragin' Cajuns would've been catastrophic. Hopefully, this team has gotten it's act together because playing like this will surely result in a loss when they face the Seminoles in Tallahassee in two weeks.
Though, just showing up should be good enough against the othe Gamecocks. Prediction: Florida 49, Jacksonville State 0
5. Missouri (6)
The Tigers have been playing inspired the past two seasons. I'd like to think that coach Garry Pinkel printed off my rankings and posted them in the locker room and all over the Columbia campus. Whatever he's doing, don't change it. A
fter battling through injuries and other distractions to find themselves at 5-5. They have a Syracuse team coming to town who is coming off their own big win. The Orangemen knocked Louisville from the ranks of the undefeated and may be a little emotionally flat.
However, at 5-5 and lead by NFL-prospect quarterback Ryan Nassib, this will be a tough game. The Tigers keep bringing it like they have the past two weekends, it will go their way in the end. Prediction: Missouri 23, Syracuse 13
6. Tennessee (5)
Not a good past couple weeks for the Volunteers. An escape against Troy and then falling to Missouri leaves Tennessee at 4-6 and must win territory. Their chances this weekend are bolstered by the weak, Vanderbilt pass defense that gave up 430 yards to Ole Miss' Bo Wallace (who isn't exactly making anyone forget Eli Manning in Oxford).
Good news for quarterback Tyler Bray and company. Prediction: Tennessee 38, Vanderbilt 17
7. Kentucky (7)
Congrats to Kentucky for bringing their eight straight Saturdays with a loss to an end. Oh wait, they had a bye. Well, the eight-game losing streak that probably cost coach Joker Phillips his job will probably end, too. Samford is FCS, though, they're not a bad team. Prediction: Kentucky 24, Samford 13
1. Texas A&M (2)
Everyone is talking about LSU getting credit for Alabama's victory, but that shows no respect to what the Aggies have had to go through.
Due to Hurricane Isaac postponing the Texas A&M-Louisiana Tech game, the Aggies have gone 10 straight weeks (and counting) with no break.
Additionally, Alabama was the fourth ranked team Texas A&M faced in the past, five weeks.
The Crimson Tide have only faced four, ranked teams the whole season.
Big win. Hopefully, they don't fall flat against the Bearkats. Probably not. Sam Houston State lost to Baylor by 25. Prediction: Texas A&M 55, Sam Houston State 10
2. Alabama (1)
Poor Western Carolina. Prediction: Alabama 70, Western Carolina 0
3. LSU (3)
For all the Tigers' fans lamenting their narrow loss to the Crimson Tide, they should remember that they got one of Manziel's worst games (albeit, he still almost went for 300 yards passing) and a no-show from the Aggies' defense.
Not to mention they caught South Carolina after a major victory and Alabama after a bye. You can't get all the breaks. Though, a reeling Ole Miss team rolls in to Baton Rouge on Senior Day. No chance for the Rebels. Prediction: LSU 35, Ole Miss 10
4. Mississippi State (4)
The Bulldogs are on their way to one of the most underwhelming 9-3 seasons I can think of without having to do an Internet search (I feel like Michigan and Notre Dame invented the underwhelming 9-3 season).
No wins against ranked teams (honestly, all three of their losses were pretty much decided by halfway through the fourth quarter). This Saturday, they can end their three game slide against a desperate Arkansas team coming to Starkville.
One of the most successful senior classes (including Dan Mullen's first, recruiting class) in school history will end their careers' at home the right way. Prediction: Mississippi State 37, Arkansas 23
5. Ole Miss (5)
The Rebels really needed that win against the Commodores. At 5-5 and with LSU and Mississippi State left on the schedule, Ole Miss has a tough chance to get the magic sixth win ensuring bowl eligibility. Tough break for coach Hugh Freeze's charges, but a good learning lesson. Take care of business... especially at home. Prediction: LSU 35, Ole Miss 10
6. Arkansas (6)
The last flicker of hope should go out for the Razorback's post-season aspirations this weekend. What a tough, trying season, surely not what quarterback Tyler Wilson thought awaited him when he returned for his senior season. However, he isn't playing his last games as he should hear his name called some time during the first day next April. Prediction: Mississippi State 37, Arkansas 23
7. Auburn (7)
There are seven and a half million reasons why this won't be Gene Chizik's last win at Auburn. Prediction: Auburn 49, Alabama A&M 0