SEC Race Is Running Under Yellow

Posted at 10:30 am on 09/23/2015 by Buddy Martin
Right now, the SEC landscape looks like a NASCAR race track running under a caution flag, with a bit of carnage strewn about. And yet despite all the bumper-to-bumper drafting, spinouts and crashes, somehow a half dozen teams have still survived the top 25 standings.

Most of us are mystified by the total collapse of Auburn and the inability of Alabama to defend its home turf. But there is a new world order coming to what was the modern day model of the once-proud Roman Empire. (And we know how that ended.)

Obviously those pundits suggesting that the Tide's front seven were the best in America must have been smoking the same stuff Les Miles was last week when he said the entire Top 25 should be SEC teams. They weren't even the best front seven in Bryant-Denny Stadium. And the fact that Mississippi came in to Tuscaloosa and put a physical whipping on Alabama has to be of concern to Nick Saban.

And perhaps it was appropriate that Auburn played in Death Valley, because by the time Leonard Fournette got through slicing and dicing them they they were ready for the morgue.

There haven't been many Saturdays lately when both Auburn and Alabama have lost. But admittedly the terrible showing by Auburn in Baton Rouge only confirms what we have suspected for three weeks: Auburn's choice as the favorite to win the SEC was pure fool's gold. What stupid idiots did that? Oh, wait -- it was us, the media.

In a funny sort of way, while the SEC heavyweights were pounding each other Saturday, there was another interesting bout on the undercard.

You may laugh, but the significance of the Florida-Kentucky outcome should not be discounted because it sets up the challenger's role for the SEC East. Somebody badly needs to give chase to Georgia.

Yes, Mississippi, LSU and Georgia moved to the head of the class. Alabama and Auburn appear to have slipped into second-tier teams. Back-to-back East division winner Missouri won beyond ugly, 9-6, over Connecticut. Meanwhile, it will be left to Tennessee, Florida or Missouri to claim that challenger position in the SEC East and wait patiently to see if Georgia can survive the gauntlet of Alabama, Tennessee and Auburn. One slip and there can be a new shooter in the SEC East, just as there are now three new shooters in the SEC West.

No FBS team has ever won more times in a row over another than Florida has over Kentucky. Quality of quarterback play is down this year around the SEC, but young Will Grier must be given credit for staying calm in Lexington and not allowing his road nerves to unravel the Gators. He played just well enough. And though Kentucky lost for the 29th straight time to Florida, you can see that Mark Stoops' club is on the way up.

The 14-9 Florida win sets up an interesting scenario next week when another piƱata for Florida returns to The Swamp. The Gators have beaten the Vols 10 straight. A win would not necessarily vault them into a contender's spot for the SEC East title because the Gators still have Ole Miss, LSU and Georgia remaining.

What it would signal, however, is that the McElwain era is off and running toward better days for the Gator Nation.

Right now, today, I see Georgia and LSU in the SEC championship game, although I was blown away in the manner that Ole Miss physically dominated a Nick Saban-coached team. It may come down to the outcome of LSU-Ole Miss.

The stellar play of newcomer Chad Kelly has boosted the Rebels' stock. I am beyond impressed with Huge Freeze's play calling. Even though he's the most impressive quarterback right now in the league with a hot-handed coach whose play-calling against the Tide was nothing short of brilliant, I have to wait if Kelly can do it more than once in a row.

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Take a deep breath now, SEC fans, exhale and then repeat after me: It's a long season and I WILL NOT OVERREACT! I WILL NOT OVEREACT!

OK, now all you Auburn and Alabama fans can meet at Toomer's Corner or Dreamland barbecue this week for a dumpster fire and burn your season tickets.

Of course Tiger fans and Tide fans are going to react! That's what they all do!

Columnists in Alabama are offering sane advice about Alabama's Armageddon Saturday. Writes Kevin Scarbinsky

"Last year, Ole Miss beat Alabama. Who won the SEC championship and reached the College Football Playoff as the No. 1 seed? Alabama. Two years ago, LSU beat Auburn. Who won the SEC title and played in the BCS Championship Game? Auburn. Looks like some big games aren't as big as others."

He forgot the style points. There is added shame to the fact that we all voted Alabama and Auburn as the two best teams at SEC Media Days last summer and they aren't even the best teams in the SEC West.

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How it looks today:

ESPN Coaches Poll

Top Ten

1. Ohio State
2. TCU
3. Michigan State
4. Baylor
5. Ole Miss
6. Georgia
7. Florida State
8. Notre Dame
9. LSU
10. Clemson

Seven SEC teams Top 25.

Others: 12. Alabama, 14. Texas A&M, 22, Missouri 25. Auburn

Associated Press

1. Ohio State 3-0
2. Michigan State 3-0
3. Ole Miss 3-0, TCU 3-0 (tie)
5. Baylor 3-0
6. Notre Dame 3-0
7. Georgia 3-0
8. LSU 2-0
9. UCLA 3-0
10. Florida State 3-0

Six SEC  teams in Top 25: 

Others: 11. Alabama (tie with Clemson), 14 Texas A&M, 25. Missouri

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Is this going to be the New World Order of CFB? As depicted by something called: College Football Leaderboard.

1. Mississippi 3-0
2. Notre Dame 3-0
3. Toledo 2-0
4. LSU 2-0
5. Texas Tech 3-0
6. Michigan State 3-0
7. Northwestern 3-0
8. Oklahoma 3-0
9. Texas A&M 3-0
10. Ohio State

Nah, I don't think so.

Buddy's New Hot Five

1. LSU
2. Mississippi
3. Georgia
4. Notre Dame
5. Oklahoma

Buddy's New Final Four

(Even though I know they won't make it because #1 plays #2 -- and 3 will likely play 4)

1. Mississippi
2. LSU
3. Michigan State
4.  Ohio State

Buddy's "On The Cusp" Four

(Not in the Top Ten yet)

N.C. State


Leonard Fournette was the first-ever player offered a scholarship from LSU as a true high school freshman. -- Gil Brandt

Dink and Dunk

--Did Will Muschamp make it off the bus in Baton Rouge before the first half ended, in time to see that Fournette already had another 100-yard rushing game with eight minutes still left to play in the second quarter?

--The "Oops Award:" Auburn DB Rudy Ford saying last week that it "shouldn't be difficult to stop" Fournette, who ran for 71 on his first carry.

--I like Rece Davis but Chris Fowler would never have let Desmond, Pollack and Herbie take over the discussion about the McElwain rant as Davis did Saturday on Game Day.

--I am with all you fans who wish The Draft Kings would move into Mel Kiper's house and get off my TV screen.

--First Les Miles surprised us with his new math on the SEC/Top 25. Then he showed up in the sauna-conditions of Tiger Stadium that felt like 115 degrees wearing a windbreaker. And we think it's odd that he chews the grass?

--Best Announcer's Line of the Day: After Verne Lundquist inadvertently said LSU's Australian punter Jamie Keehn was "76 years old" when he meant 26, his partner quipped: "My gosh, that's a redshirt, redshirt, redshirt..."

--Best Turnaround: Georgia QB Greyson Lambert, who didn't complete a pass in the first half last week, set an NCAA record for completion percentage (.960 on 24-of-25). The one incompletion was an intentional overthrow in the end zone.

Quote of the Week

--Texas Tech coach Cliff Kingsbury after his team's win over Arkansas, speaking of Brett Bilelema: "He got his ass kicked. He's a prideful guy and he says what's on his mind, but it just hasn't worked out for him."

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