The Bottom of the SEC East at Midseason
The SEC East is working its way back into prominence again this season as Florida, South Carolina and Georgia have all taken turns as the weekly media darling. With Auburn and Arkansas in epic downward spirals this year, the SEC West’s dominance rests on the shoulders of just Bama and LSU.
(I see you MS State but I’m not believing it yet....)
The balance of power will continue to shift, I’m certain, through the second half of the season.
Let’s take a look at how the bottom of the Eastern division is faring at midseason:
Does anyone remember the first college football game of the season where it looked like James Franklin and his spunky Commodores might actually get past the Old Ball Coach in Nashville??
Yeah I don’t either.
The Vanderbilt Commodores are currently 1-3 in the SEC and 2-4 Overall. Their 19-15 win over the Missouri Tigers two weeks ago gives them just a slight edge over the remaining East teams. They have already faced and lost to “the Big Three” from their division and will host the Auburn Tigers this weekend with a good chance of adding another SEC win to their column.
Vanderbilt would love to make it to a bowl game this season, marking the first time in the program’s history that the school has made back-to-back appearances in a bowl. BUT that means winning 4 of the last 6 games on the schedule: Auburn, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Wake Forest.
It looks to me like that Wake Forest game might be the dealbreaker this season.
Anchor down, James Franklin you’re only halfway there.
Oh wait, you already have. That’s why you aren’t going anywhere....
Every time the Volunteers have taken the field this season against an SEC opponent it has been “the most important game of Derek Dooley’s career.”
The Florida game because the Volunteer Nation was riding high on being ranked for the first time in years, an appearance by ESPN College Gameday, and with a definitive win against NC State two weeks earlier, the Tennessee Volunteers were back and ready to re-emerge onto the national radar. It seemed all the pieces were finally in place for Derek Dooley’s first signature win over a hated SEC rival.
However, the Florida Gators had different ideas and four quarters later the Vols walked out of Neyland Stadium without the win that had been expected from Dooley and company.
Georgia became the next milestone that was dropped.
Coach Dooley returned “home” to Athens, GA to watch his team fall short in the last minutes of the fourth quarter before returning to Knoxville with another “moral victory” and lessons learned.
Things were getting hotter on Rocky Top and the rumblings from the fanbase worrisome and doubting.
Then last Saturday in Starkville seemed to be the game where it could all turn around. The ranked MS State Bulldogs were unbeaten but unproven.
And this week Dan Mullen remains unbeaten, having sent Tennessee back home without yet another “must win” for head coach Derek Dooley.
The 3rd Saturday in October looms on the horizon for the Big Orange followed by a trip to Columbia East next week. Win or lose, the next two games could be considered “the most important game(s) of Derek Dooley’s career” but for drastically different reasons.
The Tigers sure are excited about being in the Southeastern Conference!
At least they were.....
Things have probably not gone as planned for Mizzou, playing their inaugural season in the SEC. 0-4 in the Conference and 3-4 Overall, the Tigers have gotten off to a brutal start. Three of the Tigers’ losses have come to top-10 ranked teams and their last three opponents have all had an extra week to prepare for Missouri because of bye weeks. However, these are cards you get dealt when playing in the most dominant league in the country. It has been evident that it will take some time for this team to acclimate to the style of play prominent in their new found home here in the SEC.
The Tigers’ most recent loss was a 42-10 rout by the Crimson Tide last Saturday. Riddled with injuries the Tigers go into a bye week this week before facing a “must-win” game at home against the Kentucky Wildcats. I’m sure players, coaches and fans alike are ready for a break.
Poor Joker Phillips. The standards are high in the Bluegrass State..... on the hardwood.
It must be difficult enough to live in the shadow of John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcat basketball program but to struggle every week in the cellar of the toughest conference in the nation is its own brand of misery.
The Wildcats are currently 0-4 in the SEC and 1-6 Overall. There has been open speculation concerning the status of Coach Phillips’ position with the program. It has been a long and disheartening season thus far in Lexington. Injuries crushed this team early with the loss of starting quarterback Maxwell Smith and backup Patrick Towles went down last week in an embarrassing loss to Arkansas in Fayetteville 49-7.
Kentucky hosts the Georgia Bulldogs this Saturday in Commonwealth Stadium. I’m betting the Big Blue Nation is impatiently waiting to make this season a memory and get onto the business of winning national championships on the basketball court.