It's kind of exciting to be halfway through the season and still have no clue who's going to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. With big matchups in both the Eastern and Western divisions this weekend, things have the potential to get even more muddled. War Damn Chaos.
(22) Florida @ (14) Missouri: 11:21 a.m., SECN
I've gone back and forth on this game all week. There are two pretty good teams that each have fatal flaws. Missouri has been nothing short of shockingly competent this season, but the big win over Georgia was not without casualties. The unquestioned leader of the offense, quarterback James Franklin, sustained a significant injury and will miss at least three to five weeks. The Tigers are confident in freshman Maty Mauk, who has looked good in limited action. To make things difficult for Mauk will be the stifling Gator defense. Florida will undoubtedly make life difficult for the freshman and keep the Tigers well under their season offensive averages. The problem is that even with Tyler Murphy at the helm, Florida isn't going to be lighting up any scoreboards. Conventional wisdom says to take the elite defense over the freshman QB, but I just can't dismiss this Missouri team just yet. To quote friend-of-the-blog AU_Beards: "If a housecat can punch a gator, just imagine what a Tiger could do."
(6) LSU @ Ole Miss: 6 p.m., ESPN2
Ole Miss was last seen coming only a prayer away from upsetting Johnny Football and his Aggies. This was surprising to most, given the Rebels' disastrous two weeks leading up to that game. Does this mean that Ole Miss is growing as a team, or does it simply mean that Texas A&M is overrated? My guess: The Ags were caught looking ahead to Auburn. There's no mystery surrounding this LSU team, however. They play above-average defense and boast the most balanced offensive attack in the league. Bottom line: LSU is just too much football team for Ole Miss right now. Plus, just look at how black bears fare around various jungle cats.
(11) South Carolina @ Tennessee: 11 a.m., ESPN
Despite being behind Missouri in the standings for the time being, South Carolina may be the de facto favorite to win the East now. They have to travel to Knoxville, but Doo Doo Clowney and co. may be getting their legs back under them after an early-season loss to Georgia. This is the same Tennessee defense that gave up 31 points to the woeful Florida offense, so we can expect the Gamecocks to score early and often. South Carolina's star running back Mike Davis should be able to find the end zone a couple of times, and Spurrier will probably say something witty afterward.
(15) Georgia @ Vanderbilt: 11 a.m., CBS
I've racked my brain trying to come up with a good enough reason to pick Vanderbilt to win this game: Georgia's injuries, Vanderbilt's occasionally potent offense, the Richt factor. Still, I just can't see Georgia losing this game. Vanderbilt, while an improved program under James Franklin, is still Vanderbilt. As long as Aaron Murray can stand upright, Georgia should win comfortably.
Arkansas @ (1) Alabama: 6 p.m., ESPN
We all know that this game isn't going to be competitive, so allow me to just break down the GIF below instead. I've never seen a GIF that more appropriately sums up a fan base more than this one.
You've got the dad. He was probably raised to be an Arkansas fan by his father, who was raised to be an Arkansas fan by his father. He can probably remember his childhood in the late-60s and early-70s when Arkansas was the power of the Southwest Conference, racking up several conference titles. Man, those were the days. Back in the Southwest Conference. He remembers when the Hogs made the move to the SEC back in 1992. It was an exciting time, and he assumed that the horizon was still littered with occasional conference titles. Since that time, he's been desensitized to football disappointment. His Razorbacks have only made three appearances in SEC title games, losing each time. Don't feel sorry for him, though. He's used to this.
The same cannot be said for the boy. He still has an annually renewing hope for his team. Stupid, naive, childlike hope. Every year, however, he becomes more like his father: fiercely loyal to his team, but ultimately knowing the end of the story. Hurt. Embarrassment. Disappointment.
The GIF below captures the exact moment that it dawns on him for the very first time that it's not just his dad that's sitting next to him. It's his future. Meanwhile, the dad tries to comfort his son, all the while wondering if raising his son to be a fan just like him was the right thing to do. Ladies and gentlemen, if you look up "Modern Arkansas Football" in a dictionary, this GIF should be only only definition given.
More from College and Magnolia:
- X's and O's: Breaking down the Aggies' potent offense
- Texas A&M Q-and-A with Good Bull Hunting
- On growing up Auburn in Aggie/Longhorn country
- In which we are forced to acknowledge the ACC for a minute
- Auburn vs. Texas A&M: TV schedule, key players and more