It was definitely an interesting week, more interesting than could have been anticipated I guess thanks to Bama's loss to ULM. For what it's worth, I take no pleasure in seeing Bama lose a game like that, but I am happy for my fellow Louisianians. And here are the results on the day:
Florida Atlantic 20
I don't have much to say about this. Florida beat up on an overmatched opponent to get to 8 wins. Tim Tebow put up gaudy stats again. Ho hum. Tebow won't be the GeauxTuscaloosa Offensive Skill Position Player of the Week, because that honor will go to a guy who put up numbers against SEC competition.
Georgia may be the best team in the SEC right now. This is a very different team than we saw early in the season. Kentucky really did give Georgia its best shot and ultimately didn't really challenge for a win here. Kentucky outgained Georgia on the game, but turnovers and the return game killed Kentucky. Georgia did it basically without passing effectively, having only 99 yards passing on the game with two interceptions.
I did some figuring up yesterday, and here is how Georgia could still conceivably make it to the national championship game. They are currently sitting at 7th in the BCS, behind LSU, KU, Mizzou, West Virginia, Ohio State, and Arizona State. First, Georgia would have to win the SEC (in my opinion) after beating Georgia Tech next week. That would eliminate LSU. Oklahoma would have to win the Big 12. That would eliminate KU and Mizzou. Personally, I think they SHOULD be chosen over W. Virginia but that wouldn't happen unless the Mountaineers lose this coming week to Connecticut (I give Pittsburgh little chance to pull that upset the next week). Then, if Arizona State loses to USC, Georgia is suddenly the #2 team in the country behind Ohio State and is headed to New Orleans for the national championship game. It's unlikely, but I think not at all outside of the realm of possibility. In fact, the least likely part of it is probably their getting to the SEC Championship Game, because they would need for Kentucky to beat Tennessee for that to happen.
As for Kentucky, they're definitely going bowling this year. They sit at 7 wins, and right now three SEC teams are at 6. Those teams at 6 are not bowl safe right now, but it's looking more and more like the 7 teams with 7 wins or more are bowl safe. I won't pretend to know where they're going at this point though.
Mississippi State 31
I never thought I would say this, but this was a passing battle between Wesley Carroll and Casey Dick. Carroll had 421 yards passing with 4 touchdowns, but also 4 interceptions. Casey Dick was 14 of 17 with 199 yards and 4 touchdowns. I also thought I'd never say this, but Casey Dick with his efficient passing and 4 touchdowns without an interception is the GeauxTuscaloosa Offensive Skill Position Player of the Week.
This whole stat line sounds like it came from a parallel universe. Arkansas scored 45 points without McFadden getting 100 yards rushing? And Felix Jones didn't even play? MSU only got 80 yards rushing, but scored 4 touchdowns? It's insanity. I think I'm going to try to forget this game happened, because it blows my mind too much.
Arkansas is bowl safe, but MSU is sitting at 6, tied with South Carolina and Bama. Two of those teams will make it to a bowl game and one won't. I think MSU makes it to a bowl game even if they don't get to 7, because they're a great story. I could be wrong though, but they also have a good chance to beat Ole Miss and make it to 7 wins.
If you were at a game somewhere and didn't keep up with this, it was just as close as the score, and Tennessee pulled it out by the skin of their teeth. They were losing from the middle of the second quarter until 2:46 to play in the game. In other words, they did their best LSU impersonation this time. They were behind by 15 when the 4th quarter started. Even when they took the lead, it wasn't safe because Vandy managed to get off a makable last-second field goal attempt, which would have won the game, but hit the upright instead. Tennessee got their furious comeback though, and keep their SEC title hopes alive. They get a tough Kentucky team next, a team that is coming off a tough few weeks.
Vandy appears to be out of bowl consideration at this point. A win next week against Wake Forest could make it interesting for them, but I think even with 6 wins, they'd be behind Bama and MSU, but I could be wrong.
OK, what is there to say about this game. I watched it on CSS's replay on channel 23 yesterday morning. At no time while watching this game did I think it was clear to an outside observer that Bama was supposed to be the stronger, faster, more athletic team. They seemed to play slow, like they just weren't any better than a Sun Belt conference team. The only time in the game it looked like Bama was the clearly better team was late in the game when everyone knew ULM would run the ball to run clock. When Bama knew what was coming, they had the manpower to get into the backfield and stop it. Otherwise, I didn't really see a David versus Goliath in this game.
I think Bama's defense played well. One of the touchdowns given up was on a drive of less than one yard. They gave up only 281 yards total. The offense got over 400 yards, but sure seemed to sputter when it counted, and gave up some very bad turnovers. I think it's unlikely you'll see Jimmy Johns carry the ball again this year, since he gave up what amounted to a game-ending fumble when he finally got the ball.
What does this mean? I'm not sure the Bama team can come back from this. They appeared to be a defeated team this past week, at least offensively. Football is as much psychological as it is physical, and psychologically this team looks like they're ready for the season to end. But it's not over. They have their biggest game of the season next week as they try to keep Auburn from getting 6 wins in a row over them. I've been wrong about a lot of things this year, as has everyone, but I don't see the fight in this team that it will take to win that game. Psychologically, they look down, and that goes for the players and the coaches. They look tired and beaten.
If Bama can't win this game coming up, do they go to a bowl game? I think they probably will. They travel well, and so the lower tier bowls will find them to be an attractive team to invite. They travel better than MSU, Vandy, and South Carolina. The thing working against them would be their late season collapse. Bowls are a little hesitant to invite teams that finish the season very weakly, but unless South Carolina wins next week, Bama will finish the season stronger than them. I think a 6 win Bama team gets an invite before a 6 win South Carolina team. I think given the storyline of Sylvester Croom, I think a 6-win MSU team gets invited over Bama though. The danger is if South Carolina wins next week and Bama does not. Even worse would be if MSU wins as well. If all those things happen, I believe the bowls are required to take a 7-win team over a 6-6 team, and Bama will be shut out of a bowl. I kind of doubt that happens, though. South Carolina has collapsed like no one else.
Coach Miles: We all know now that Carr's out. Everyone is saying it. However, everything I'm reading seems to suggest that Miles will not be their first choice. There's plenty of chatter that Carr does not like Miles, and that Carr will have a lot of say over who gets the job. What's more, even if they want Miles, he may not listen to them until the season is over, and Michigan wouldn't want to wait that long.
If I was a betting man, I would take an even money bet that Miles would be our coach for the 2008 season. Right now, I think it is much more likely than not that Miles will not be Michigan's next coach.