SEC Conference Musings Part One: Top of the SEC EAST
Six weeks of college football have come and gone.
Some teams are actually already bowl eligible at this point in the season and National Championship prognosticating has begun in earnest.
The current AP Poll has 3 of the top 4 teams in the country competing in the SEC. Consensus says that the Conference will likely be celebrating a 7th Championship this year and right now there isn’t a lot of argument to the contrary.
Let’s look back briefly at what Slive’s Conference has accomplished to this point:
For now, let’s focus on the top three teams in the East.....
6-0 and Bowl Eligible after Saturday’s resounding defeat of then-fifth ranked Georgia; suddenly Spurrier’s boys are getting a little more hype and #3 has midseason national title aspirations.
A surprising 35-7 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs this past weekend shocked pundits across the SEC. The offense got off to a huge start, the defense took care of the rest and stifled an explosive Georgia offense that looked lost and confused for the entirety of the game.
The real test for the Gamecocks comes this week as they travel to Death Valley to face the LSU Tigers. Les Miles and company, coming off a hard loss to the Gators last week, is looking to prove that they are still contenders in the championship race. Steve Spurrier should make sure he keeps his victory celebration short cause the Tigers are looking for blood in front of a hometown crowd.
John Chavis’ defense will want to keep the Cock’s predominantly running offense subdued. If Shaw and Lattimore are shut down early, South Carolina will be forced to take to air and rely on the receiving corps IF Spurrier will allow it. This game is won or lost with headsets and clipboards in my opinion and not necessarily on the gridiron.
What have we learned: The Gamecocks' defense is stout, the offense's running game is as good as any in the nation and Spurrier continues to reinvent himself AND win. Fast, powerful and prepared, the Gamecocks looked like the real deal against the Bulldogs but bigger tests await before Columbia can really start thinking about booking a trip to Miami.
Will Muschamp was waiting to have a signature game that caused the national media to look more closely and take notice: Saturday’s win against the LSU Tigers did just that....
The Gator’s biggest test of the season thus far showed that this team can compete with any program in the country. Of the unbeaten teams in the Southeastern Conference, the University of Florida has played the most impressive schedule to date.
Gainesville is now also rumbling with title conversations. At 5-0 and with a quality win over what is considered an elite program, UF and its fans have plenty to talk about.
Every unit for the Gators was impressive on Saturday. Special teams kept Florida in the game for the first half but it was in the second when the halftime adjustments became evident and Florida’s defense effectively shut down LSU’s running game. LSU was scoreless after the half.
Gillislee is a running back to be feared in this Conference and while Driskell is just a sophomore in his first year as a starter, he has shown accuracy both on deep and short passes. Florida’s depth will keep them in any game and possibly in the driver’s seat in the SEC East.
What we have learned: Florida thinks they’re back.
The Gator defense has yet to allow a score in the fourth quarter this season. They’re deep enough to stay strong for sixty minutes. Will Muschamp works magic at halftimes.
SO enjoy Nashville this weekend Florida fans cause Spurrier’s coming back for a visit, then there’s the Cocktail Party before ending the season with a road trip to Tallahassee.
That was embarrassing, Georgia fans.
I don’t think anyone was expecting the rout that went down in Williams-Brice Saturday night, not even Steve Spurrier himself. Outplayed and overwhelmed the Bulldogs failed to rise to the occasion.
Mark Richt continues to underperform with a budget, the talent, and the facilities that could produce a high caliber team capable of winning championships. Seemingly though this team cannot achieve what has eluded the Georgia fanbase for decades: an opportunity to play for a national title.
Popular thought in Athens was that this year’s team was destined to repeat as the SEC East Champion. The possibilities for bigger things were imminent just a few days ago. I’m not sure that is the case anymore though, UGA. Talent is being squandered due to rudimentary play calling and things don’t seem very different from years past. It may be out of reach now.
YET the Bulldogs don’t seem to want to count themselves out of a trip to Atlanta in December.
First and foremost for any team in this situation, the pressure is off. Gather yourselves, lick your wounds and get back into it. The University of Georgia has the talent.
So here’s your motivation: the Georgia Bulldogs won the SEC East title after falling to South Carolina last season. The Dogs’ remaining schedule, with the exception of Florida, works in their favor. South Carolina holds the tiebreaker and must lose two SEC games to give UGA a chance but that is entirely feasible given their remaining schedule.
Florida, the only real threat left for Georgia, will be coming off a marquee match up with the Gamecocks when the Dogs meet the Gators in Jacksonville. However, Georgia will have rested for a week with a bye followed by a trip to Lexington. You may be behind the 8 ball, Bulldogs but the football gods have blessed you with a weak schedule. Use it.
What we have learned: Mark Richt’s seat may have spontaneously combusted on the drive out of Columbia Saturday night.
“Things need to change at the top,” cry the Bulldog faithful.
There are two options: Win out, hope for big things and the Bulldogs play to repeat in the East.
Winning cures all and Richt keeps his job.
Yet the cycle begins again.
Lose to Florida, fall short of Atlanta and maybe those changes finally start happening in Athens.