We are headed into the final week of October. So what did we learn over the weekend?
1. Uneasy lies the head that wears the No. 1 crown: On Oct. 9 No. 1 Alabama went on the road and lost to South Carolina after 29 straight regular-season wins. On Oct. 16 Ohio State moved to No. 1 and promptly lost on the road at Wisconsin. Then Oklahoma took over as the BCS No. 1 and got beat last Saturday night at Missouri. Now Auburn, fresh off an impressive win over previously No. 6 LSU, has moved to No. 1 in the BCS Standings. After a schedule that has included one tough, emotional game after another, Auburn must go to Ole Miss (3-4) on Saturday. Auburn has four games remaining (Ole Miss, Chattanooga, Georgia, Alabama). Win them all and the Tigers get some retribution for 2004, when they went 13-0 and did not play for the national championship. Can they do it now that the whole world is watching?
2. If Cameron Newton is not at the top of your Heisman list, you need to take another look: I wrote for CBS on Saturday that Cameron Newton’s 49-yard touchdown run against LSU “was a Heisman Trophy moment if ever I saw one.” Consider that this guy ran for 217 yards against the No. 6 rushing defense in the country (83.6 ypg), a defense that was set up specifically to stop him. I saw former Auburn head coach Pat Dye before the game and asked him about Newton: “Somebody called and asked me to compare Cameron to all the other great quarterbacks we’ve had at Auburn,” Dye said. “I couldn’t do it. It didn’t make any sense because their ain’t never been anybody like him at Auburn. Never.”
3. Georgia is confident and it should be. But are the Dawgs confident enough to beat Florida? You have to say that Georgia’s march from 1-4 to 4-4 has been most impressive to watch. Beating Tennessee and Vanderbilt at home was what Georgia was supposed to do and they didn’t fool around with those teams. But to be able to go on the road and jump out to a big lead on Kentucky is a good sign. Now Georgia goes down to Jacksonville with a better football team than Florida. Georgia now knows the identity of its football team. Florida, while talented, is still searching for its identity post-Tebow and post 11 players who went to the NFL. But Florida has a decided edge because it still controls its destiny in the SEC East. Georgia has to win this game and get some help to still have a shot to get to Atlanta.
4. Don’t forget about Alabama: Alabama (7-1) is No. 7 in the BCS Standings with four or possibly five games left to play. Down the stretch the Crimson Tide will play three teams ranked in the Top 21 of the BCS: No. 21 Mississippi State (6-2), No. 12 LSU (7-1), and No. 1 Auburn (8-0). If Alabama wins all of those and the SEC championship to go 12-1, how far will it launch them? I feel confident it will launch them past an undefeated TCU or Boise. But will it launch them past an undefeated Michigan State or Missouri? I’ll dig a little deeper into that on Tuesday.
5. Don’t forget that South Carolina controls its own destiny in the SEC East: If the Gamecocks had not lost at Kentucky on Oct. 16 they would be in pretty good shape right now. Still, if Steve Spurrier’s bunch Tennessee and Arkansas at home and then win at Florida on Nov. 13 they will go to the SEC championship game. It looks like running back Marcus Lattimore will return for Tennessee and that makes a big difference in the way that Steve Spurrier calls his game. Can South Carolina handle the spotlight down the stretch?
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Barnhart and Durham: Today we look back on the weekend that was, break down the second BCS Standings, and well Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo and Syracuse coach Doug Marrone to the show. Please join us at 10 a.m. www.790thezone.com