And DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME
Wrong sport perhaps, but the SEC teams' final push toward Atlanta is thundering toward us like Seabiscuit flying on the outside. (It's amazing how florid the prose can become when you're not worried about getting your butt beat on Saturday.)
Gawd, we love the bye week, particularly when our team is 7-1 and we can assume the almost god-like position of picking for and against SEC rivals on the most self-serving of whims.
The week off also gives Alabama fans the luxury of switching stations to audit three games that will have a significant impact on the SEC's offseason: unbeaten Michigan State at Iowa; unbeaten Missouri at Nebraska, and unbeaten Oregon at USC. (Bonus prediction: Only Oregon and their goblin-esque uniforms will be undefeated as of Halloween. Meaning, the SEC's chances of having a one-loss team in the BCS Championship Game will have been greatly enhanced.)
With that in mind, here's our black-market BCS playoff this year: Quarterfinals: The Iron Bowl. Semifinals: The SEC Championship Game. Finals: The best of the SEC vs whomever is left standing. How's the Iron Bowl winner vs. Oregon sound?
First, there's the small matter of a playing the games.
Auburn at Ole Miss: The extent of Arkansas' dismantling of TRFKR (The Rival Formerly Known as Rebels)was somewhat surprising, given the pluckiness Houston Nutt's team showed in Tuscaloosa. But this is the kind of game the Right Reverend supposedly lives for. One question: What number buckshot does Nutt plan on using to slow the Auburn offense? Short of that, and assuming Cam Newton et al can dodge the bourbon bottles, Auburn will be sending Ole Miss fans to The Grove sometime in the third quarter. Ursine this! The Barn, 38-24.
Florida vs. Georgia All signs say Woof. So Georgia should be scared to death. Never mind that the Bulldog offense is steaming along. Never mind that Florida comes in O for October, or that Urban Meyer's sideline expressions these days are a dead wringer for Dr. Frankenstein's when he realizes he has no control over his monster. Florida is ALIVE, barely, and it must beat Georgia to keep its hopes of reaching Atlanta ALIVE!! as well. True, the Gator offense will plod along based on players being jammed into a system that doesn't fit them. Yet, something tells me the UF defense will cause a couple of turnovers at pivotal times. The Dawgs may be playing better, but they rarely play well in Jacksonville, and Georgia remains a fragile team with way too much to lose. Florida, 21-20
Tennessee at South Carolina: Take it from Eva Braun, funny things can happen in the bunker when the battle begins slipping away. Still, Tennessee fans must be swallowing deeply after their coach's Nazi metaphor following last week's pounding by Alabama. As a student of history, Derrick Dooley must know the Allies didn't show much mercy when they had Hitler on the ropes. Steve Spurrier, then, would be Stalin, a role he was born to play, with his Red (and black) Army poised to increase the body count and steam on toward Atlanta. USC, 24-10.
Kentucky at Miss. State: It goes to show how far the Bulldogs have come this year that we can describe Kentucky as a "trap game." State hasn't played a trap game since Jackie Sherrill was fooling around with livestock. Kentucky certainly has the offensive weapons to give Dan Mullen problems. But the Wildcats seem to no longer have the stomach for a fight. Bullies: 21-16
Vanderbilt at Arkansas: Suffice to say Ryan Mallett's junior season has not unfolded like a movie script. His three picks ruined the Hogs' early upset bid of Alabama. He suffered a concussion against Auburn and a shoulder injury against Ole Miss. Another ding could cost him millions more in next year's NFL draft (if there is a NFL draft). Fortunately, throwing against Vanderbilt should be little more than pitch and catch at the combine. Arkansas: 35-17.
Georgia vs. Florida (Jax): This seems like a good time, as a Georgia fan, to point out the irrefutable truth that Any Team In Orange Is Bad. But there are levels of orange-hating, and here they are, least hated to most:
4. Clemson: Don't play them much anymore, Danny Ford's gone, still hoping for a human avalanche as the players run down the hill after touching Howard's Rock, but all in all, they're OK.
3. Auburn: Trying to tamp down man-crush on Cam Newton, but otherwise easy to hate, especially after the Bull Connor game of 1986 (the Auburn groundskeeper fired hoses at UGA fans after the Dawgs upset Auburn on the road).
2. Tennessee: I arrived at the Observer in the midst of the Peyton Manning years at UT. My boss at the time was a big Tennessee fan. She would have a party every year for the UT-UGA game, and by the end of the first quarter she'd be cackling and I'd be into my second six-pack because Tennessee would be up 28-3. Good times. So, yeah, pounding them this year was fun. I need to give my old boss a call.
1. Florida: Steve Superior, Kerwin Bell, that obnoxious chomp thing, jean shorts, they still do the freaking Two Bits cheer, Urban Meyer's esophagus, Danny Wuerffel, Tebow, Brandon Spikes' eye-gouges... I could do this for 10,000 more words. And of course, they've beat us 17 out of the last 20.
This year both teams are mediocre. Georgia has won three in a row and Florida is on its worst stretch since Galen Hall... but all those beatdowns over the past 20 years have got me flinching. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if we lost again. But for today, at least, I'm gonna believe. Georgia, 26-21.
Auburn at Ole Miss: Cam Newton takes your trap game and wraps it around your neck, while he's dodging all your safeties on the way to the end zone. War Eagles, 38-17.
Tennessee at South Carolina: The Cocks still have the inside track to the SEC East title, although their chance for a truly great season dissolved on the Kentucky bluegrass. But these fans deserve a trip to Atlanta either way. USC, 29-10.
Kentucky at Miss. State: The other Bulldogs are the sneaky-good team in the SEC this year. State, 24-13.
Vanderbilt at Arkansas: Mallett feasts on the weak. Razorbacks, 44-14.
Thursday, October 28, 2010