Could a Mediocre Four-Loss SEC East Team Go to Atlanta?
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It seems that nobody wants to represent the SEC East in Atlanta come December.
The best record—the absolute best—an SEC East team can carry into the championship game against the western division's foe features at least two losses.
After Saturday's games, the East looks like this: South Carolina is first at 4-2 after the win against Tennessee; Florida comes in at 3-3, having bested a resurgent Georgia (3-4); Vanderbilt, after losing to Arkansas late, sits at 1-4, Kentucky is 1-5; and Tennessee brings up the rear at 0-5 in the conference.
To give you an idea of how bad the SEC East has gotten, Vanderbilt entered the game against Arkansas with the second-best shot at getting to Atlanta by having only three losses.
With the final month of the season ahead of us, let's see if we can decipher which team will come out of the East and face off for the SEC's place in a BCS bowl.
Well, it won't be Georgia. Everyone had written off the Georgia Bulldogs a month ago.
The first few games of the season fulfilled a nightmare scenario for the 'Dawgs and their fans. Losses to South Carolina, Arkansas and Mississippi State had some in their fan base calling for head coach Mark Richt's head.
After some rousing speeches by Richt and some team leaders, Georgia rallied, posting back-to-back-to-back wins over the dregs of the SEC East.
But then Uga VIII met its first loss against Florida in overtime, and the Bulldogs fell—hard.
That fourth loss in conference knocked the Dawgs from competition.
Sorry, Dawg fans. Even if Florida loses to Vandy and beats South Carolina and your team beats Auburn, the head-to-head tiebreaker would give the Gators the edge. That's assuming USC loses to Arkansas next week.
Wow. Wouldn't that be a shame if a four-loss team made it to Atlanta? It could happen.
What is this—the ACC?
I don't think Urban Meyer would care what his team's record was, as long as his guys made it back to the championship game. Why? Because the Florida Gators have been a bigger disappointment than any other team in the SEC.
And coaching his team back from the brink of football hell could be his best coaching job yet.
Remember the beginning of the year? Sure, Meyer's cupboard had to be replenished after last season, but the defense looked solid and the offensive line was supposed to let new quarterback John Brantley get his feet under him in time to face the meat of the SEC schedule.
Instead the defense looked lost and Meyer's offensive looked, well, offensive—and not in a good way. Three successive SEC defeats, beginning with an embarrassment against Alabama and ending with a loss to Mississippi State (gasp!) two weeks ago, caused the Gators to retool their offense in the off week before The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party against Georgia.
It worked, as the Gators posted the overtime win to keep hope alive in Gainesville.
If Florida beats South Carolina in two weeks, the Gators can book a ticket to Atlanta. That's if they get by Vanderbilt next week.
If they somehow falter against the 'Dores, the Gators will have to pray that Arkansas beats USC in order for them to win against the Gamecocks and then go to Atlanta with four losses and represent the East.
But there's a team in Columbia that has something to say about that.
South Carolina's season resembles head coach Steve Spurrier's heartbeat: there has been a lot of ups and downs. The ups include a huge win over No. 1 Alabama. The downs were extremely down, highlighted by a disaster against Kentucky.
But the 'Cocks are game, they hold their own destiny, and they hold a possible first-time trip to the SEC Championship in their own hands—or, rather, in the hands of one Stephen Garcia.
As Sniff 'n' the Tears said, the Ol' Ball Coach is in "the driver's seat" on this one.
All that's standing between a USC-Alabama rematch in the SEC title match is a possibly resurgent Florida squad and Arkansas the week before that (assuming 'Bama wins the SEC West).
Playing out the possibilities, Carolina could lose to Arkansas and still go with a win against Florida. Or it could beat Arkansas and lose to Florida if the Gators lose to Vanderbilt.
If you're a 'Bama fan, don't you want another shot at Spurrier?
Sure you do.
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