The first BCS Standings are six days away. So what did we learn this weekend?
1. After four straight national championships, will the SEC get shut out of the BCS title game? There is no way to understate what Alabama’s loss to South Carolina meant in the big picture. Just when a lot of people (this writer included) were convinced that the Crimson Tide was going to Glendale, they lose in Columbia and it throws the door open for just about anything.
This morning, with the first BCS Standings set to be released on Sunday, the SEC has three teams in the Top 10 of the coaches poll (No. 7 Auburn, No. 8 Alabama, and No. 9 LSU.) Those three teams all have to play one another in October and November. We don’t know a whole lot but this much we do know: Like it or not, if No. 1 Ohio State runs the table, the Buckeyes will be in the big game. So unless Ohio State loses at Wisconsin on Saturday or at Iowa on Nov. 20, everybody is playing for No. 2. Of course, we said the same thing about Alabama.
We know that a one-loss SEC got to the big game in 2006 (Florida), 2007 (LSU actually had two losses), and 2008 (Florida). But if you’re an SEC fan, your teams have a tough uphill climb.
Bottom line: There is going to be a lot of scoreboard watching in SEC territory the rest of this season.
2. South Carolina just flat beat Alabama: Yeah, Alabama was No. 1 and had won 19 straight games. But the fact is once the game started, South Carolina’s best players–WR Alshon Jeffrey, RB Marcus Lattimore, DB Stephon Gilmore, and yes, quarterback Stephen Garcia–were better than Alabama’s best players. It was one of the best games I’ve seen Steve Spurrier call in the 30 years I’ve been covering him. He kept the Alabama defense off balance all day.
Here is my favorite stat from that game: South Carolina had 10 offensive possessions. One was right before halftime and another was at the end of the game when South Carolina was trying run the clock instead of score. On the other eight possessions South Carolina scored five touchdowns.
It is another example where the grind of the SEC schedule just takes the edge off even a great team. Alabama had emotionally invested in two straight games at Arkansas and at home with Florida.
3.The Coaches Poll makes no sense: South Carolina beat Alabama, the nation’s No. 1 team, by two touchdowns. But when the new coaches poll comes out Alabama is No. 8 and South Carolina is No. 12. Auburn is No. 7 and South Carolina lost by a touchdown at Auburn two weeks ago. On what possbile level does that make sense?
4. Auburn is going to get its shot. The Tigers, who kicked a field goal at the buzzer to win at Kentucky, starts the week at No. 7 in the coaches poll. But in the next three weeks Auburn will get a chance to play its way into the national championship discussion. There are five SEC teams in the top 13 (Auburn, Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, Arkansas). By the end of this season Auburn will have played the other four.
The Tigers have No. 13 Arkansas and No. 9 LSU in back-to-back games at Jordan-Hare Stadium the next two weeks. Then there will be a trip to Ole Miss. Win those and the Tigers will be in the mix for the final two games with Georgia and Alabama.
5. Georgia Tech is getting better: It’s been painful to watch Georgia Tech go through some of its growing pains but this team is getting better. It looks like Anthony Allen is finally getting on track at the “B” back position with 195 yards. Joshua Nesbitt is getting a little more confident throwing the ball. Tech had over 36 minutes time of possession. The defense continues to give up a bunch of yards but is creating some turnovers. This team is a long way from being as good as the ACC champs of 2009, but the trend lines are going in the right direction. The Yellow Jackets should handle Rick Stockstill’s Middle Tennessee team on Saturday but then there is a trip to play a wounded Clemson at Death Valley. Win those both and get a week off before a Thursday night trip to Virginia Tech followed by a home game with Miami. In other words, everything Tech is playing for is still in front of them.
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“Barnhart and Durham:” We’ll welcome Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill and discuss what Alabama’s loss means to the big picture of college football as we approach the release of the season’s first BCS Standings. Please join us at 10 a.m. www.790thezone.com.