Five burning questions as we head into the weekend:
1. Can Cameron Newton break Pat Sullivan’s 40-year record? In 1970, the year before he won the Heisman Trophy, Pat Sullivan ran for nine touchdowns and threw for 17 more to set the Auburn record for touchdowns responsible for a season at 26. Sullivan set the record in 11 games. With two touchdowns Saturday against No. 6 LSU, Newton will set a new record in only eight games. Newton, who leads the SEC in rushing, will try to do it against one of the best defenses in college football. LSU is No. 1 in the SEC and sixth nationally in rushing defense at 83.57 yards per game. Newton leads the SEC in rushing and is 11th nationally at 122.86 ypg.
2. Can Joshua Nesbitt break Woodrow Dantzler’s rushing record for QBs ? Dantzler set the ACC’s career record for rushing by a quarterback when he posted 2,761 yards from 1998-2001. Dantzler’s offensive coordinator, by the way, was Rich Rodriguez, now the head coach at Michigan. Nesbitt only needs 45 rushing yards at Clemson on Saturday to break that record. Clemson is No. 4 in the ACC in rushing defense, giving up 143.33 yards per game.
3. Can Georgia take this show on the road and win? The Bulldogs have had a couple of feel-good weeks at home against two bad teams (Tennessee, Vanderbilt). There is talk that the Bulldogs are back in the SEC East race and, mathematically, they are. There are more positive signs coming out of the Bulldog camp, to be sure. But we’ll find out if there has been real improvement in the next two weeks. Georgia goes to Kentucky on Saturday and faces a team that had an emotional win over South Carolina last week. The Wildcats have offensive weapons and their quarterback, Mike Hartline, is playing the best football of his career right now. If it wasn’t for the performance of Auburn’s Newton, Kentucky’s Randall Cobb would be the MVP of the SEC. This will be a stern test for the Bulldogs. Win it, and Bulldog Nation will have some hope going to Jacksonville next week.
4. Is Alabama ready to make a run? Yes, if they’ll get the ball to No. 22. At No. 8, the Crimson Tide was the highest rated one-loss team in the first BCS Standings. They play two of the teams ranked ahead of them in No. 4 Auburn and No. 6 LSU. Alabama also plays No. 24 Mississippi State on Nov. 13 in Tuscaloosa. Alabama plays at Tennessee on Saturday, takes a week off, and then begins that stretch drive. Alabama became the most dominant team in college football last year because running back Mark Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, was getting the rock. It’s time to go back to basics.
Ingram had 24 carries and dominated the fourth quarter when Alabama rallied to win at Arkansas on Sept. 25. Since then he has had 12 carries aganst Florida, 11 against South Carolina, and 15 against Ole Miss. I know you’re saving the Big Fella for the stretch run. Well, it’s here. It’s time to let No. 22 carry this team again.
5. Can North Carolina beat Miami for the fourth straight time? North Carolina (4-2, 2-1 ACC) has certainly had a bunch of problems to overcome this season with a pair of NCAA investigations that continue to keep some of its best talent off the field. But here the Tar Heels are, winners of four straight and still in the hunt for the ACC Coastal Division championship. North Carolina goes to Miami (4-2, 2-1) in what is basically an elimination game in the ACC Coastal race. Both teams still have to play Virginia Tech (5-2, 3-0). Miami plays at Georgia Tech on Nov. 13. North Carolina’s lone ACC loss was to Georgia Tech back on Sept. 18. North Carolina is still in this position thanks to the play of senior quarterback T.J. Yates, who has completed 66. 5 percent of his passes for 1,495 yards, 11 touchdowns and only one interception. The bad news for Tar Heel fans is that your best receiver, TE Zack Pianalto (30 catches), will miss the rest of the season with a broken leg. This is a huge football game for both teams.
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