Five teams in the East started the day with 2 conferences losses. We knew it would get down to three teams with two losses, because 4 of the teams played each other. What we didn't know, and what probably no one saw coming, was that Kentucky would get beaten by Mississippi State.
Mississippi State lost to LSU by 45 points. Kentucky beat LSU. Mississippi State hasn't won more than 3 games in a year in how long? They have one of the weakest passing offenses in the country. Who would have thought MSU would beat Kentucky? Sure, I thought MSU might beat Kentucky, but that was merely a byproduct of thinking that anyone can beat anyone. There was no reason I could think of to give MSU any advantage at all in this game. But not only did MSU win, but they won by 17 points and never trailed in the game.
Georgia got a woodshed beating at the hands of Tennessee in a game where they were never in it; a game that appeared to be over at the opening coin flip. Tennessee got housed by Florida early in the season. Florida had played some of the toughest teams in the conference, winning their share and playing the others close. Georgia looked like a beaten team with an inconsistent quarterback, an injured running back corp, and an unspectacular defense. No gambler in his right mind would have put money on Georgia straight up.
Georgia not only won, but they dominated the 4th quarter after never trailing in the first three except for a brief period when they were behind 17-14 in the second quarter.
Oh, and if you don't think Knowshon Moreno is the GeauxTuscaloosa Offensive Skill Position Player of the Week, you just weren't paying attention.
Then we have the final game of the night between Tennessee and South Carolina. It's a tired refrain, but who could seen the outcome of this game after Tennessee was dominated by Bama just last week. Of course, South Carolina got beaten by Vandy last week as well, and their offense has struggled mightily. Who could have predicted that Tennessee would come out swinging and take a 21-0 lead into halftime? And then who could have predicted that South Carolina would immediately and dramatically turn it around after not scoring a touchdown in 8 quarters and take a lead with less than 2 minutes to play, only to give it up on a 48 yard field goal by a rookie, forcing overtime, where Tennessee would ultimately win?
It's madness, I tell you.
What does it all mean? Well, let's do some bullets.
- My dream of having 11 bowl-eligible teams in the SEC appears to have a good shot at coming true. As of right now, 6 teams are bowl-eligible and 5 more teams have 5 wins. Florida has a gimme against Florida Atlantic. Tennessee and Vandy play each other down the stretch, so one of those guys will be bowl-eligible based on that game. If Vandy fails there, they get a shot against Kentucky or Wake Forest. If Tennessee fails against Vandy, it probably won't matter because they will have already played Louisiana-Lafayette. Arkansas and Mississippi State play each other, so at least one of those is getting to 6 wins. Mississippi State gets shots against Bama and Ole Miss, and Arkansas gets 3 shots against good teams if they can't beat MSU (South Carolina, Tennessee, and LSU). We're looking at 9 bowl-eligible teams, minimum, and a very good shot at 10, with 11 still being more realistic than ever.
- Florida is not out of it in the East if they can beat Vandy and South Carolina, but those are big ifs. It's hard to believe that Florida has lost 3 of the last 4 games now. I assumed that someone would win out in the East and finish with 2 losses, but the two teams that survived this week have the hardest road to the end from here of anybody. Georgia still has to play Auburn and Kentucky in conference, and Tennessee still has to play Arkansas, Vandy, and Kentucky. If both of those teams lose a game, and if Florida wins out, Florida still wins the East, holding tie-breakers against all of the other teams in the hunt.
- The SEC is getting out of hand with personal foul calls for hits out of bounds. Yesterday, in the Kentucky-MSU game, on a big 3rd down, Andre Woodson scrambled out of the pocket and ran towards the first down marker, angled such that he would run out of bounds a yard or two past it for a first down. A Bulldog defender drew up on him, and Woodson turned towards the sideline. He was running right at the marker at this point, and if allowed to get there it would have been VERY VERY close and likely a first down. The defender hit Woodson right before he stepped out of bounds, but he was definitely headed there. The hit may have saved 6 inches of field position, but it was a very valuable six inches. The refs threw a flag for personal foul for late hit, handing Kentucky a potentially valuable 1st down and 15 yards of field position. The replay showed definitively that Woodson had not stepped out of bounds yet. We've seen a rash of this lately, and the standard for late hits have gotten unreasonable. Now, if the player (particularly the QB) has stepped out of bounds AT ALL, or even if he's just about to step out of bounds, it's a 15 yard penalty. This is football people. Collisions happen, and it's neither wise nor fair to ask defensive players to stop playing aggressively near the sidelines.
- I simply did not understand how badly hurt Tim Tebow was, but it was clear he was playing at significantly less than 100%, particularly in the running game. Fully healthy Tim Tebow is the best offensive player in the SEC since Bo Jackson. A Tim Tebow who can't run the ball effectively is another Jared Lorenzen. I was a big Jared Lorenzen fan back in the day, but no one ever said that Jared Lorenzen was the best player in the SEC since Bo Jackson. I guess with a 3rd loss, Tebow's out of the running for the Heisman, which is too bad because the Heisman goes to "the most outstanding player in college football." College football has, in its entire history dating back to the 19th century, not seen a player quite like Tim Tebow. I'm not saying he's the best college player ever, but I'm saying 10 years ago you would not have thought it possible that a player with his particular skill set (good and accurate passing, strong power running, leadership) would come around. If a high-skill player with a skill set never seen before is not the most outstanding in the country, I don't know who could be. No offense to Matt Ryan, who is a good QB having a great season, but he's just a drop back passer, perhaps the best of many good ones this year, but he's the sort of player who comes along every year somewhere. A player like Tebow never has before.
- There are rumors everywhere about certain LSU football players getting into some legal trouble. Here's what we allegedly know. There was a fight at the Varsity late Thursday night. Many LSU players were in attendance that evening, and two of them (Ryan Perrilloux and Derrick Odom) were named in the police report, which named in total 20 or so people. There were no reports of weapons in the police report, and neither Perrilloux nor Odom have been charged with anything at this time. Rumors about what happened go well beyond this, but right now they appear to be nothing more than unsubstantiated rumors. If it does not go beyond this, I don't believe any disciplinary action is warranted.