Tag:Georgia
Posted on: October 25, 2011 4:40 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 4:41 pm
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 25: They're that good

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Counting down to LSU-Alabama with a daily dose of analysis and news.



DAYS REMAINING TO KICKOFF: 11, or the number of points (or fewer) to which LSU and Alabama have held 13 of their combined 16 opponents in 2011. (The exceptions: Oregon and West Virginia scored 27 and 21, respectively, against LSU, and Arkansas netted 14 against the Tide.) It's also the number worn this year by LSU starting tailback Spencer Ware, who we can now safely say will be playing against the Tide. (See below).

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Everyone thought Ohio State and Michigan were the nation's clearcut two best teams when they went 1-vs.-2 in 2006, and both of them crashed and burned in their bowl games. What are the odds LSU and Alabama aren't as good as the hype and rankings suggests they are, either?

The truth is that there's no way to guarantee the winner of LSU-Alabama will finish the national championship job the way the 2009 1-vs-2 SEC championship game winners did and the Buckeyes didn't, or that they'll even make the BCS title game. (Facing Georgia in the Georgia Dome might be tricky, for instance.) But there's two things we can say with certainty: 1. after the past five years, the SEC champion deserves the benefit of the doubt when it comes to playing for national titles 2. LSU and Alabama are both SEC championship-caliber teams.

In fact, both might be a good bit better than your typical SEC champion--or (with one exception) even any of the league's national titlists in its current streak. How can we say that? Here's how those five teams stacked up in terms of average margin-of-victory across their nine games vs. SEC opposition:
2010 Auburn: 13.4 points
2009 Alabama: 15.8 points
2008 Florida: 30.0 points
2007 LSU: 10.0 points
2006 Florida: 6.9 points
And with five SEC games already behind both the 2011 Tide and Tigers, here's where they stand in the same statistic:
2011 Alabama: 32.4 points
2011 LSU: 27.4 points
Now, a few caveats: this year's injury- and inexperience-ravaged SEC is in many ways not as tough top-to-bottom as the SEC of several of these previous five seasons; obviously, neither LSU nor Alabama has played the most difficult game on their SEC schedule yet (meaning each other), so those numbers will no doubt drop; and even the mighty '08 Gators slipped up against Ole Miss but still made the national title game, a luxury the winner on Nov. 5 (probably) won't have.

But caveats or not, those margins aren't just impressive; they're nearly twice what any team besides those 2008 Gators managed. Offering any "yeah, but" ojections is to ignore the obvious conclusion from everything we know about these two teams to date: whoever wins this is game is deserving of being the league's heavy favorite, they are the likeliest candidate to win the 2011 national title, and yes, whatever happened in 2006, this game deserves the hype.

THE LATEST FROM BATON ROUGE: We'll let Tyrann Mathieu break the biggest news of the past 24 hours himself:



That's no doubt Mathieu celebrating the fact that he and two other members of the "Synthetic Three" were reinstated as expected Tuesday. It was just yesterday LSU's chancellor was saying Mathieu, Ware, and Tharold Simon would have to "get their act together" for A.D. Joe Alleva to give them the OK to play against the Tide; apparently Alleva didn't need that much convincing said acts have come together.

Speaking of Alleva, an open letter from the LSU A.D. to LSU fans announced the news that as part of moving this year's LSU-Alabama game to a prime-time kickoff, CBS has already agreed to air next year's Tide and Tigers showdown in Death Valley as a prime-time game. In this video, CBS Sports executive vice president Mike Aresco talks on the Tim Brando Show about the process of moving both this year's kickoff to 8 p.m. ET:



THE LATEST FROM TUSCALOOSA: Nick Saban's parking ticket might have gotten the most attention out of his public appearance in Birmingham yesterday, but it was also Saban's first opportunity to say more about his Nov. 5 opponent than saying he wasn't going to say anything about them yet. His assessment:
"I think they've got great team speed, (they're) very athletic ... They've got good depth. They play a lot of players. Their ability to execute on a consistent basis has been good. The one thing they've been able to do offensively, they've run the ball effectively on everybody that they've played, and they've played very well on defense, pretty consistently against everybody that they've played. Because of the team speed that they have they're always a little bit of a matchup issue when it comes to special teams."
Parsing exactly what a master of press-conference speak like Saban really means is always tricky, but we think two things here are telling: 1. he doesn't bother praising the rejuvenated LSU passing game, saying the "one thing" LSU's done is run the ball well 2. while the other areas of the team are praised as "effective" or "consistent," the Tiger special teams is a "matchup issue." Despite Saban's protestations to the contrary, we'd wager a large sum of money some of his staff's man-hours the past coupel of weeks have been spent breaking down LSU film, and a substantially lesser amount of money that those special teams areas are where Saban's concerned.

It's been a busy week of award-collecting for Dont'a Hightower. The junior linebacker was named this week's SEC Defensive player of the week, the Lott IMPACT Player of the Week, and Tuesday one of 12 Butkus Award finalists, along with teammate Courtney Upshaw. A big game against LSU could make Hightower -- already arguably the most visible member of the Tide defense, along with safety Mark Barron -- a Butkus favorite.

Posted on: October 24, 2011 6:47 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 6:50 pm
 

UGA AD: No discussion of 14-team '12 SEC schedule

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Last time we checked in on the ongoing SEC 2012 scheduling mystery, the league seemed 100 percent committed to some form of 13-game schedule, with any additional teams -- Missouri, Missouri or potentially Missouri -- on hold until the 2013 football season. But then Mizzou chancellor Brady Deaton said that any move made by his institution would be "applicable to the next year," seemingly reopening the door for  the Tigers to join as soon as next year.

But to hear Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity tell it, that door may not be open after all. In an interview with the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, McGarity said that in discussions of the SEC's 2012 football schedule, the league has focused exclusively on a slate without any hypothetical late additions.

"That's all that we're really focusing on right now is the 13-team model," McGarity said.

He added that the SEC's concentration has been exclusively on finding a workable solution for 2012, not establishing any kind of long-term solutions for preserving rivalries or cross-divisional rotations.

"There are various challenges that will be clarified here shortly," McGarity said. "But we all realize that we're just focusing on one year. ... That's really our mission right now."

That would seem to indicate that  the conference (rather obviously) isn't planning on staying at 13 teams for very long. But a "one year" solution might also suggest the league is planning on having newcomer Texas A&M play their eight league contests as a four-four divisional split, a move that would keep the second half of this year's home-and-home cross-division rotation intact.

That kind of split would never work as anything more than a single-season patch job, but SEC spokesman Larry Templeton has already called it the "least disruptive" plan for next year.

At this late stage, of course, adding Missouri would be even more disruptive. But if the SEC's scheduling intentions as portrayed by McGarity are any indication, that's one disruption that will wait until 2013.

Posted on: October 24, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 4:20 pm
 

The Poll Attacks: Week 8

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.

With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.

AP Poll           Coaches Poll           Harris Poll           BCS

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)

Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC

Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: Southern Miss

  The Golden Eagles are ranked in the top 25 for the first time since 2004 in the Coaches Poll but are just "receiving votes" in the AP. Voters must not be aware of them shutting down June Jones' offense on Saturday, holding SMU to just three points and 330 yards. They're behind teams like West Virginia (blown out by Syracuse) and Arizona State (lost to Illinois, blown out by Oregon) for some reason. Yes, they're a Conference USA team so they have to fight for respect a lot more than others but they should be on everyone's ballot at 6-1.

Overrated: Nebraska

  To be fair, it's hard to figure out where to slot Nebraska because of the mediocre group of teams outside of the top 10-12 or so. The blowout loss to Wisconsin looks even worse now and having to come back and beat Ohio State is not a ringing endorsement for a top 15 team given their troubles in the passing game. We'll figure out if they deserve a high-ranking after Saturday but until then, they probably should be behind Virginia Tech and even Texas A&M.

California Craziness

A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.

  I swear that Wilner just likes being the one in this space in order to gloat to his Bay Area compatriot Ratto. First off, teams that are on his ballot that shouldn't be: Auburn (17th), Washington (21st), Texas (23rd). Teams not on his ballot that should be: Houston, Michigan, Penn State. Also head-scratching: Auburn above USC, Kansas State 19th, Virginia Tech one spot behind Washington, Arkansas ahead of Stanford, South Carolina in the top 12, Georgia in the top 15.

What were you thinking? Desmond Conner, Hartford Courant

  Conner's top 20 isn't bad at all, aside from Nebraska being ahead of both Michigan State and Wisconsin. The bottom five is disastrous however. Arizona State is 20th, followed by West Virginia, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Illinois and Penn State. He was the only voter to rank the Fighting Zookers despite losing back-to-back games to Ohio State and Purdue and has one-loss Penn State dead last on his ballot. Conner is also the only one to leave USC unranked.


Posted on: October 24, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 12:54 pm
 

Muschamp expects Brantley to get start vs. Dawgs

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Florida
head coach Will Muschamp said Monday he expects his team to get the biggest possible boost as they face Georgia in the 2011 edition of the World's Larget Outdoor Cocktail Party Saturday: the return of starting senior quarterback John Brantley.

Though not officially official just yet -- Brantley's availability could be affected by how his ankle responds during the week of practice -- Muschamp described Brantley's current status as probable and said he expects Brantley to get the start against the Bulldogs.

 "I feel like John will be ready to go for the game, Muschamp said. "Getting him back is going to be a huge psychological shot for our football team."

Brantley has yet to participate in a full practice and will be limited Monday, but Muschamp said that based on Brantley's recovery trajectory since suffering the high ankle sprain against Alabama Oct. 1, he should be ready by Saturday. Brantley was able to put weight on the ankle the day after the injury and has been aiming since then to return the week of the Cocktail Party.

While Brantley's return would be bad news for Georgia, at least they have a better understanding of who they'll be facing; Mark Richt called preparing for Florida's wide range of quarterback possibilities a "pain in the rear" Sunday, and that he wasn't expecting to find out the identity of the Gator starter until kickoff.

(Frankly, we're surprised Muschamp didn't play things more coy about the status of Brantley's injury. It's hard to imagine Muschamp mentor Nick Saban, for instance, telling his opponent which of his quarterback options they ought to spend the most time preparing for.)

There is one area of uncertainty for Muschamp: the Gators have not yet decided whether Jeff Driskel or Jacoby Brissett will serve as the team's backup (or replace Brantley as the starter in the event he can't go). The two true freshmen have struggled in Brantley's absence, for the season combining to complete only 19-of-58 passes (33 percent) for less than 5 yards an attempt and a 1-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. With Brantley out, the Gators lost to LSU and Auburn by a combined 41 points.

"The production when he was not in the game went down," Muschamp said of Brantley. "You've got to give our opponents some credit for that."

Some, yes. But no one who watched the start of the Alabama game and the next five halves of Brantley-less Gator football would say Florida was anything like the same team once the senior went down. If Brantley is indeed back under center Saturday, Georgia is going to get a much, much stiffer test from Muschamp's team than the one the Tide, Tigers, and Tigers got.
Posted on: October 23, 2011 7:52 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2011 9:17 pm
 

SEC poll reactions, Week 8

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the SEC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.


(AP/Coaches)

1/1. LSU

We'd like to think that even if Oklahoma had completed their failed comeback against Texas Tech, the Bayou Bengals' annihilation of a top-20 Auburn team (as opposed to a mighty struggle at home vs. an unranked team with two home losses) would finally resulted in their taking over as a consensus No. 1. But fortunately for clarity's sake, the Red Raiders finished the job. And even if Alabama wasn't on a bye themselves, that consensus wasn't going to change during LSU's off-week--the Tigers have a 49-10 advantage in first place votes in the AP, and a 41-18 edge in the Coaches.

2/2. ALABAMA

The Crimson Tide should have passed the decisively less-impressive Sooners weeks back, but there's no doubt plenty of thanks being sent Lubbockward after the Red Raiders made the Tide's consensus move to No. 2 it official. (Then again, knowing the relationship between the Tide fanbase and Tommy Tuberville, maybe not.) What's interesting is that the Tide have enough support for a short fall in the event of a loss to LSU--the 122-point margin between the Tide and No. 3 Oklahoma State is wider than the margin between the Cowboys and No. 6 Clemson.

8/8. ARKANSAS

The Razorbacks move up two spots in both polls but find themselves in the same broad position as last week: the second-highest one-loss team behind Oregon. It's a strong show of support for the Hogs that even after an unimpressive win over Ole Miss -- one that required overcoming a 17-0 first-half deficit and a last-minute interception to preserve the victory -- Arkansas still moved past plummeting Oklahoma and Wisconsin. But as we said last week, if forced to pick between the Hogs and Ducks in a one-loss head-to-head, we think the Hogs deserve the nod.
14/14. SOUTH CAROLINA

Oh, Coaches poll. We wish there was a better explanation for jumping Kansas State past the Gamecocks on the basis of a win over Kansas and Carolina's bye week than "Oops, we kind of messed up by having that undefeated team so low last week, better fix it" ... but we know there isn't. At least Michigan State's leapfrog past the Gamecocks makes more sense. The Spartans jumped the Gamecocks in the AP, too, but Carolina stayed put thanks to West Virginia's freefall. Given that the Gamecocks' loss came to a now three-loss team at home and that their signature win is a three-point escape at Georgia, they can't have any complaints about sticking at 14th.

22/21. GEORGIA

The Bulldogs didn't play this week, but still got a two-slot bump in the AP and leapt into the Coaches at No. 21. Guess it helps when so many bottom-rung top-25 teams -- Auburn, Illinois, Washington, Georiga Tech -- absorbed lopsided and/or embarrassing losses. But the Dawgs can't gripe about not being higher, not when their best win is still over 3-4 Tennessee.
Posted on: October 20, 2011 12:51 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 1:12 pm
 

Vol AD: 'Feel strongly we can keep' Tide rivalry

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Thursday is reportedly the day Missouri begins the process of applying for membership in the SEC, an application that virtually no one expects to be rejected--even if the last we heard from the Tigers' conference-of-choice, Mizzou didn't yet have the nine positive votes to join.

The major sticking point for alleged Mizzou-opponent Alabama? The Crimson Tide's cherished "Third Saturday in October" rivalry with Tennessee, which could become a non-annual game if Missouri is added to the (geographically sensible) West division. And with former Alabama athletic staffer Dave Hart now the AD in Knoxville, the Tigers won't get the Volunteers' support, either, if their admission puts the Third Saturday in jeopardy. 

Though Hart doesn't spell that out specifically, it doesn't take a lot of reading between the lines in his Thursday interview with the Birmingham News to see that's the case:

Hart arrived from Alabama as Tennessee's new AD knowing the obvious: Alabama and Tennessee must continue playing football every year.

"The history that rivalry has produced is unparalleled in my mind," Hart said. "I know [Tide AD] Mal [Moore] feels exactly as I do. I feel strongly we can keep it and hope it can go back to the Third Saturday of October where it belongs. It would be a nice cherry on the top if all that would unfold."

By which Hart means returning the game to its rightful place on the calendar on the actual third Saturday in October; the game is currently played on that exact date occasionally (and falls on the fourth Saturday this season).

But first and foremost, the game has to be played at all. If Missouri is added to the West division, one current West team will have to move to the East--and the far-and-away most logical candidate is Auburn, whose president has already stated publicly his Tigers would be happy to make the switch. But that would put Alabama in the position of having both their major annual rivals in the opposite division, with only of those rivalries "protected" as an annual game.

As the News's Jon Solomon points out, the SEC has two options for preserving Vols-Tide: either assign Missouri to the East and keep Auburn in the West (keeping the Vols as the Tide's lone cross-divisional rival), or expand the SEC schedule to nine games and give each team an extra cross-division rival.

Since the latter means unbalanced home-away schedules and a maximum seven home games every other year, don't expect it to get much in the way of support (even if it works for the Pac-12, Big 12, etc.). At this point, the most sensible approach for including Mizzou seems to be to toss the Tigers in with Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, as little geographical sense as that makes.

Because as Hart's comments illustrate, adding the Tigers to the West means push would have to come to shove somewhere--and that somewhere might be Missouri not getting added to the SEC at all.

Posted on: October 19, 2011 12:30 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 1:13 pm
 

UGA's Geathers, VU's Stewart suspended

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Want to know how things wound up so heated between Georgia and Vanderbilt Saturday night? This video from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution should help explain things:



That's Commodore center Logan Stewart diving into the back of Bulldog nose tackle Kwame Geathers' legs after the play was over, and Geathers throwing a punch in retaliation. The SEC has responded by suspending both players for their teams' next half-game, as well as Georgia safety Shawn Williams, flagged for multiple personal fouls during the game.

The league is also officially reviewing the postgame fracas between the two coaching staffs, and it stood to reason they'd want to take a closer look at any plays that might have led to it ... particularly when one of those plays includes a thrown punch. Both retaliations like Geathers' and egregious clips like Stewart's resulted in half-game suspensions for other players in 2010, so it's not a surprise to see something similar for Geathers and Stewart here.

Vandy head coach James Franklin said he expected to hear on a possible punishment for Stewart sometime Wednesday.

Though the 'Dores won't be happy losing Stewart for any period of time against a tricky Army program this Saturday, the suspensions are an even greater blow for Geathers, Williams and the Dawgs--with a bye on tap for Saturday, the defenders will be forced to sit for the first half of the World's Largest Cocktail Party showdown against Florida.

We don't blame the SEC for suspending either Geathers or Stewart; while Geathers is fully justified in being angry (and even in reacting angirly in some fashion) a thrown punch is by this point universally recognized as just cause for a suspension. But it would have been nice if the SEC sent a message about Stewart's play by handing him a greater punishment than Geathers'--say, a full game to Geather's half. If we're comparing the two offenses, there's no question in this blogger's mind which one is more likely to result in an injury, which is more premeditated and less emotional, or which falls further outside the bounds of acceptable conduct on the football field. Geathers' punch probably hurt, but Stewart's clip might have ended Geathers' career, and came far too late to have anything to do with the play.

However things finally shake out, this much is certain: next year's meeting between the Dawgs and 'Dores is going to be far spicier than any game featuring Vandy and an SEC East power typically is.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 10:36 am
Edited on: October 18, 2011 2:57 pm
 

Eye on College Football Midseason Report: SEC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

At the top, midseason 2011 remains the best of times for the SEC. Alabama and LSU have given the conference not one but two highly viable -- some might even say favored -- candidates for a sixth straight national title. It's not even such bad news that one seems all-but-destined to eliminate the other from the title race when they meet in Tuscaloosa Nov. 5; assuming both clear their final hurdles this week, that game should arrive with more hype, more anticipation, more coverage and more viewers than any regular season college football game since Ohio State and Michigan clashed as undefeateds the final week of 2006. From a national title perspective, the SEC has never mattered more.

But anywhere other than the top, these are the worst times for the SEC in a while. A plague of injuries, inexperience, and ineffective coaching has gutted much of the league's offensive bite and turned what used to be riveting battles amongst the league's wealthier-than-thou middle class into glorified slapfights. Take this past weekend: Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State and South Carolina combined for a total of 49 points across two hideous games; lambs-to-the-slaughter Tennessee and Ole Miss lost to the league's top two by a combined 76 points; and Georgia and Vanderbilt played a game most notable for the screaming match between its coaches afterwards. It was ugliness all the way around--and that's with the conference's worst offense, Kentucky, on a bye. 

Alabama vs. LSU should be a classic. And Arkansas, still easily top-10 caliber and as exciting as ever, is blameless. But are the hobbled back-nine of the SEC capable of giving us anything else deserving of that label in 2011's second half?

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Trent Richardson, running back, Alabama. It's easy to forget Richardson's 2011 season actually got off to a slow start, with only 148 yards on a 3.8 per-carry average through the Crimson Tide's first two games. Since then: five games, 764 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 8.2 yards-per-carry, the sort of per-attempt number starting tailbacks for national title contenders achieve only in video games. It's not just the production, either; Richardson has showed off the proverbial total package and then some, flashing breakaway speed, bone-rattling power, and startling elusiveness, sometimes -- as in his Heisman-reel tour de force against Ole Miss -- all on the same play.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tyrann Mathieu, cornerback, LSU. The only serious defensive candidate for the 2011 Heisman, the Honey Badger has stormed onto the national scene on the back of a wave of big plays: the strip-and-fumble-return for touchdown against Oregon, the dazzling interception-and-return-to-the-1 against West Virginia, the sack-strip-and-fumble-return for touchdown against Kentucky. But those game-changing efforts shouldn't obscure what Mathieu does on an every-down basis: namely, lead the nation's No. 4 defense in solo tackles and spearhead the nation's No. 6 secondary in opponent's passer rating.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Les Miles, LSU. Nick Saban obviously deserves commendation as well, but with the ridiculous stockpile of defensive talent in Tuscaloosa and the rock-steady stability of Saban's program, the Tide were never in any danger of not being really, really good. Miles, however, had to navigate a major offseason shakeup of his offensive coaching staff, the Jordan Jefferson barfight brouhaha on the eve of the season (amongst other distractions), and a handful of offensive line injuries to have his team where it is now--atop the AP poll and well on their way to bringing an 8-0 record to Bryant-Denny Stadium.

SURPRISE: Auburn. Few SEC teams have legitimately exceeded expectations in 2011 -- LSU and Vandy are the only other two, frankly -- but none has been as big a shock as the Tigers, who had been predicted by many to sink to fifth (or worse) in the West and general irrelevancy in Year One A.C. (i.e., after Cam). But despite being a Vegas underdog in all four of their SEC games (and scoring 20 points or fewer in their most recent three), a newly-energized defense and timely plays on offense and special teams have Auburn sitting at 3-1 in the league and 5-2 overall. If Miles's and Saban's teams hadn't run so far away from the pack, Gene Chizik would be a hot favorite for SEC Coach of the Year.

DISAPPOINTMENT: Mississippi State. The 0-4 SEC record isn't that bad, honestly; at Auburn, vs. LSU, at Georgia, and vs. South Carolina is a reasonably tough road to hoe. What is that bad is that Dan Mullen's veteran offense has looked so lost, scoring just one offensive touchdown over its last three conference games. This was supposed to be the season Mullen started winning games against the heavier hitters of the SEC, but thanks to his team's offensive struggles, the Bulldogs are now losing games (and in uglier fashion) to the same caliber of team they defeated in 2010.

GAME OF THE YEAR--SO FAR: South Carolina 45, Georgia 42, Sept. 10. Thanks to the lack of offensive fireworks and Alabama and LSU horse-whipping opponents on a weekly basis, candidates for this honor are few and far between, But back in Week 2 the Gamecocks and Bulldogs played a back-and-forth thriller that may still wind up deciding the SEC East. Marcus Lattimore powered for 176 bruising yards, but the player of the game was Gamecock defensive end Melvin Ingram, who scored touchdowns on both defense and special teams and capped his breakout performance by snaring the Dawgs' last-gasp onsides kick. 

More Midseason Coverage
Related links

GAME OF THE YEAR TO COME: Alabama vs. LSU, Nov. 5. Do we even have to spell out why? Consider that the average score to-date between one of these two behemoths and an SEC opponent has been 37-8, and the only thing keeping either one from being heavy, heavy favorites to win the league title is the other. With the pair currently ranked No. 1 and 2 in the BCS standings, it's not an exaggeration to think of this as a BCS championship semifinal.

AND YOUR SEC CHAMPIONS ARE: Alabama out of the West, purely on the basis of getting to host the Game of the Century of the Year, and Georgia out of the East--the Bulldogs have far fewer offensive question marks than the Gamecocks and the easier schedule down the stretch. And as for the SEC Championship Game, well, when the best of this year's West meets the best of this year's East, there's only one outcome worth predicting. We like Alabama to win this year's SEC title and advance to the BCS national championship.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com