Steve Spurrier’s team has wreaked havoc in the SEC so far this season—just as I predicted. Redshirt Freshman Chris Smelley has taken over the starting quarterback position and has allowed the Gamecocks to rise to the top of the SEC Eastern Division. Is a first trip to Atlanta on the horizon for South Carolina?
Key Wins: at Georgia, Kentucky
The recent struggles by the Bulldogs — a blowout loss to the Volunteers and an escape from Nashville — have lessened the impressiveness of the Gamecocks early season victory in Athens. Regardless of Georgia's play since, the Gamecocks were able to beat the Bulldogs in Sanford Stadium rather efficiently and Georgia is still a Top 25 team. Rating: 6.5
The Gamecocks seemingly exposed an overrated Wildcat team in Columbia a few weeks ago, but Kentucky has since beaten a top-ranked LSU Tigers team and has shot up to 7th in the BCS standings. This win appears to be more impressive as the weeks progress. Rating: 7.5
Key Losses: at LSU
On a rainy day in Baton Rouge, the Gamecocks lost to the #1 team in the country: the LSU Tigers. South Carolina managed to hang with the Tigers all afternoon and had a chance to pull off the upset. A Les Miles fake field goal was needed in order to pull out a victory at home against a lower-ranked team — sound familiar? Rating: 9
The three toughest games remaining for South Carolina are road games in Fayetteville and Knoxville and a home match-up against the Florida Gators. Call me crazy, but I am fully on the Steve Spurrier bandwagon and believe he is going to work his magic and find a way to navigate the rest of the Gamecock’s schedule without a loss.
Assuming he is able to accomplish that feat, South Carolina — yes, SOUTH CAROLINA — would be playing in Atlanta for the SEC Championship. Their most likely opponent would be the LSU Tigers — a team that could barely beat the Gamecocks at home — and I can’t get the image of Steve Spurrier holding up another SEC Championship trophy out of my head. PFR: 12-1
South Carolina has already beaten one Top 10 team (Kentucky) and hung tough with another (LSU). With losses to Oregon, West Virginia, and Oklahoma, I could see the Gamecocks beating every other BCS Top 10 team. Rating: 2.33
7. Kentucky (.683)
Rich Brooks has finally made a contender out of the Kentucky Wildcats and provided their fan base with something to do during the basketball off-season: watch UK football. Andre' Woodson’s draft stock rises on a weekly basis and the Wildcats are making a serious push for the SEC Eastern Division crown.
Key Wins: Louisville, at Arkansas, LSU
This victory used to mean something. The almighty Brian Brohm coming into Lexington and getting shocked by the Wildcats was a triumph Kentucky fans usually reserve for Rupp Arena. However, the Louisville Cardinals have since taken about 10 miles worth of backsteps and are a very mediocre team. At the time of the victory, Louisville was still playing well though, so that is important to consider. Rating: 4
Ok, ok…I know. The Razorbacks have no passing offense and are in the middle of the pack in the SEC Western Division but, last time I checked they still have Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. Any team that can go to Fayetteville and keep those two dynamic players in check warrants recognition. Rating: 5.5
Kentucky welcomed the top-ranked Tigers to Lexington and managed to pull out a victory in overtime. Enough said. Rating: 10
Key Losses: at South Carolina
A tough loss to a Gamecock team in Columbia seemed to expose every Wildcat weakness and the country began to question whether Kentucky was “for real.” Due to South Carolina’s 6th overall ranking, this loss does not diminish any of UK’s victories or prevent them from being labeled a legitimate Top 10 team. Rating: 7.5
Kentucky still has home games against Florida and Tennessee as well as a road trip to Athens to play the Georgia Bulldogs. Life in the SEC isn’t easy. If the Wildcats can go 2-1 in those three games that would be remarkable — I just don’t see it happening. PFR: 9-3
I think the Wildcats can muster wins against BC, Arizona St., West Virginia, and USF. The rest of the BCS Top 10 would give Kentucky fits. Rating: 1.556
8. Arizona St. (.683)
Does anyone know anything about the Sun Devils? Has Jake Plummer returned to campus or is Todd Heap missing time with the Ravens to help out his alma mater? What I DO know is the combined record of ASU’s opponents so far this season is a whopping 19-27. Needless to say, the Sun Devils have a lot to prove.
Key Wins: N/A
Weak, weak, weak schedule so far. Match-ups against Cal, USC, and Oregon are imminent. Rating: 1
Key Losses: N/A
Have I mentioned the Sun Devils have yet to play a team with less than three losses? Rating: 11
Much like Boston College, the Arizona State schedule is heavily back-loaded. They play California this weekend followed by road games to Oregon and UCLA. They still have to play USC as well — does anyone remember USC? PFR: 8-4
If anyone believes Arizona St. could manage to beat ANY current BCS top-10 team, please feel free to let me know. Rating: 0.00
9. West Virginia (.662)
Will the Mountaineers ever live up to preseason hype? It seems WVU has been in everyone’s preseason Top 5 for the past decade. But they have only managed one BCS bowl appearance and Steve Slaton and Pat White are yet to even be invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation.
Key Wins: N/A
West Virginia’s toughest challenge so far (South Florida) was a loss and the rest of their opponents’ combined record is 12-21 — not exactly a daunting schedule. Rating: 1
Key Losses: at South Florida
The Bulls dominated the Mountaineers back in September — even though the final score (21-13) doesn’t suggest it. Still, losing to the #2 overall team in the country on the road isn’t that bad. Rating: 9
The remainder of the Mountaineer schedule is just as weak as the beginning. Their only potential losses are road games against Rutgers and Cincinnati. I think Rich Rodriguez will find some way to lose at least one more game this season. PFR: 10-2
West Virginia could probably beat a sub-par Arizona State team, but I can’t see the Mountaineers beating any of the other current BCS Top 10 teams. Rating: .389
10. Oregon (.637)
Dennis Dixon has led the Ducks to a 5-1 record (2-1 in the Pac-10) and are one of the most exciting — and hideously uniformed — teams in the country. Is a Rose Bowl berth in their sights? Don’t completely rule the Ducks out.
Key Wins: at Michigan
The Wolverines have woken up from their early season sleepwalk and Mike Hart is running over every defense he plays. The 39-7 drubbing Oregon handed Michigan in the Big House looks more impressive with every week that passes and proves the Ducks can compete with other power conferences such as the Big Ten. Rating: 7.5
Key Losses: California
Oregon’s recent loss to the Golden Bears at home was detrimental to their hopes of bringing a National Title to Eugene, but Nate Longshore and DeSean Jackson were able to beat the Ducks by a score of 31-24. This loss is a little more unimpressive after Cal’s loss to Oregon State last weekend — but remember Jeff Tedford had to start a redshirt freshman quarterback due to Longshore’s injury. Rating: 7
The Ducks still have to play USC and Arizona St., but they should be able to win at least one of those games. Other Pac-10 cupcakes fill out the rest of Oregon’s remaining schedule. PFR: 10-2
Oregon would be tested against any of the current BCS Top 10 teams, but I feel they match-up well against Kentucky, USF, and Arizona St. Rating: 1.167
My “Spun” BCS Rankings:
South Carolina 6.85
South Florida 6.18
Ohio State 5.48
West Virginia 2.44
Boston College .319
Arizona St. -0.15
National Championship Game
South Carolina (12-1) vs. Oklahoma (12-1)....Why not?