Probably the best thing that Auburn fans can do for themselves starting this week is to put the Cam Newton recruiting controversy story out of their minds and worry about it when additional news breaks. It's counter-productive to be rehashing everything that's leaked out or been printed to date. Besides, it's Amen Corner for crying out loud, and we need to hunker down literally and figuratively for these Dawgs coming into town. There is no way that we can afford to look past Georgia, who although hasn't had a win this year against a team with a winning record, also stands to have a losing conference record for the first time under Mark Richt. Throw in the fact that home-field advantage doesn't mean squat in this series AND a Georgia win will tie up the all-time series record for the first time since way before I was born and you have all the intangibles that Vern and Gary will blurb out in the opening minutes of the telecast.
Go by and check out our sister SB Nation blog Dawg Sports, with whom we still have diplomatic ties. Mind your manners, as Georgia week is like a family reunion, and although four years of frustration have built up, maintaining a respectful rivalry with our Dawg cousins is important, or at least for a Georgia immigrant like me. Besides, head Dawg Sports writer T. Kyle King always has interesting and realistic commentary and we just may enlist his full support for our BCS run after this weekend is all over.
So with so much being made of the BCSand the bowl predictions as the season winds down, I will try to address some of your many questions about what's going to happen with the BCS rankings, how the SEC is going to shake out, and college football in general.
Is there a chance that Auburn can get shut-out of the NCG even if we win out? Abso-freaking-lutely NOT! With the latest BCS rankings Sunday, Auburn is three one thousands of a point behind Oregon and 4th and forever ahead of #3 TCU and #4 Boise, twoCinderellas on steroids. With unranked Georgia, #12 Alabama and either #23 South Carolina or #22 Florida left, I predict that Auburn, if we win out, will once again pass Oregon into 1st place in the BCS due to strength of schedule alone. They have Cal, #18 Arizona and Oregon State left, and no bump from a conference championship game. I think they will remain #1 in the AP poll and probably the Coaches Poll, too, but it's academic who's playing in Glendale if both win out.
But isn't ESPN out to get us? Guys, I've said it here a million times. ESPN has no overt or covert agenda against us. The coverage balances out. There is no such thing as bad publicity. They are our friend. If they didn't like us, they'd quit putting us on their damn telecasts so often and we'd have to play the Triple-Dave Zombie Match at 11am every week. You dig? Simply put, ESPN is in the business of selling advertising, and they produce programming to help them to that end. Speaking of which, many of you think that the coverage on the Cam story has been slanted by them. I disagree, but I said we shouldn't talk about that anymore this week, so let's zip it.
If we stumble one game, is it possible lurking LSU could end up in the NCG? No way--for a number of reasons. First, most voters will have a real problem elevating a team that didn't even go to their conference championship game into the title match. Granted, teams like Oklahoma in 2003 have even lost their CCG and still gone on to the BCS title game, but I think it would be extremely hard. Voters would also have a hard time ranking LSU above a team they lost to, namely Auburn. And lastly, I think that Arkansas beats LSU in Fayetteville. Mark it down.
But can we still drop one game, win out and still make it to the BCS? It would be hard, especially if the Cinderellas win out, but there is a chance, provided that game was Georgia and not Alabama. There are plenty of voters out there who want to get one or both of the non-AQ teams into the championship, even with their cheap schedules, but old school voters might still realize how hard it is to go 13-0 in the SEC and might give us some love along with the computers. Best if we just win out though, baby!
But are there any other one-loss teams that could get to Glendale? Not really, unless the Cinderellas falter. BCS slots 6-11 are chocked full of one-loss Pac 10, Big 12 and Big Ten teams that won't have enough oomph to move up unless a lot of people start losing. Stanford is the highest-ranked at 6th, but has already lost to Oregon and has no one left to give them a boost. #8 Nebraska and #10 Oklahoma State look destined to play in the Big 12 CG, provided the Pokes can get by Oklahoma, and it would be a rematch of OSU's only loss to date. Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State all have one loss, but only Ohio State has a game left (with 2-loss Iowa) that could give them a sizeable bump in the polls. With these three Big 10 teams bunched together and having already played each other or not scheduled to play, this is the epitome of what kind of stepping stone a CCG could be for a team in their position.
So who's going to win the SEC east? Okay, let me ask YOU. Who deserves it? Yea, just what I thought--nobody. Alright, I flipped a coin in my head and it came up tails, so Florida goes. South Carolina is done. The Old Ball Coach will falter in the Swamp under the pressure. I had hoped that Georgia might get it so that we'd have a remtach in three weeks, but I'll keep waiting. Hey, you can't say the east wasn't a jump ball. There's not many years when three conference losses still earns you a trip to Atlanta. Don't get me wrong, I'd like to see a fresh face from the east in the CCG, and I have no qualms about playing the Gamecocks again, but I do relish the opportunity to meet the Gators a year early and beat them with a former player the likes of Cam Newton. Can't wait to see Urban Meyer's presser afterwards.
What about the dominance of the west over the east this year? I'm not sure if there's ever been a year like 2010 when one division manhandles the other as bad as this. 14-2 so far, with the South's Oldest Rivalry this weekend, then Ole-Miss-Tennessee the next, and of course the SEC CG. 17-2 is certainly possible. Only Alabama with S.Carolina and Ole Miss to Vandy have loused it up so far. The last decade of conference title games has been 5-5 though.
So much for the east, any guess who winds up as #2 in the west? My money is on Arkansas. As I said above, I think they beat LSU at home, but then again, they may have their hands full at Mississippi State the day after the Iron Bowl. I'd LMAO if State wound up #2, but they lose the tie-breaker to LSU and I don't see the Purple Tigers dropping an extra game to Ole Miss. If LSU wins out, they'll know the oft-suffered pain of Auburn by missing out on Atlanta by one game or a tie-breaker--usually to them.
And finally, what do you think that was that Les Miles picked up off the ground and ate Saturday against Alabama? I'm not really sure, but I'll eat one too if we can beat Alabama in two and a half weeks.