Monday, October 1, 2007

Continuing the Week 5 review -- The East

So let's see where we are: The Gators are mid pack in the East, along with Georgia and South Carolina. Vanderbilt is 1-1, and Tennessee is bringing up the rear. If this seems like some alternate dimension to you, don't feel alone. A lot of us are facing a strange alignment in the SEC East, and for all I know it could get stranger still.

So now, let's take a look at how each Eastern division team looks now, and speculate a bit on their prospects.

Kentucky Wildcats
Ok, so this is a weird place for the Cats to be, leading in the East. But a lot will be determined on Thursday as the Cats go down to Columbia to face the Ol' Ball Coach, who is undefeated against Kentucky. The winner of this game will begin to look like a slight favorite to take the East. Interestingly enough, USC's much-vaunted defense finds itself only 3rd best in the East behind Vanderbilt and Georgia, but USC's pass defense is #1 in the country. Kentucky's scoring offense is #12 in the country. Could it be the case of the "immovable object/unstoppable force?" Could it be time for another UK negative streak to end?

South Carolina
USC held on to beat a determined Mississippi State team Saturday. They now gear up for the Wildcats in an Eastern division showdown. As I said before, Spurrier is undefeated all time against the Cats, but he has never faced a Kentucky team with this kind of offensive firepower before. Will it be enough to break the streak? Scott hood at Gamecock Central looks at 5 things USC fans learned from the game.

Georgia handled the visiting Ole Miss Rebels without incident, but now they get to face one of the teams that beat them between the hedges last year. Tennessee has had a week off to lick its wounds and prepare to welcome the Dawgs. This game could rescue UT from the cellar and make it a factor again in the East, or elevate the Dawgs into a tie for first or second, depending on the outcome of the USC-Kentucky game. For now, the Dawgs are sitting pretty in the East.

We've already looked at the Florida-Auburn game. It's pretty clear to me that the Gators have serious issues at linebacker and lack anything resembling offensive balance. Saturday they head to LSU to face the #1 ranked Bayou Bengals, and if Florida plays no better than they did against Auburn, the outcome could get real ugly and place the Gators at .500 in the conference with a road trip to Lexington looming. This is a real tough stretch for Florida, and they need to go 1-1 to keep any hope of an SEC championship alive. Mlmintampa of Alligator Army channels George C. Scott as Patton to inspire the Gator faithful.

As expected, Vanderbilt handled a weak Eastern Michigan team to improve its overall record to 3-1, with the help of 6 Eagles turnovers. But the Commodores are showing an unfortunate propensity to throw interceptions, and Nickson had 4 picked himself, and Save the Shield finds himself squarely in the "alarmed-but-hopeful" camp when it comes to Nickson. Vandy finds itself heading down to visit the fired-up Plainsmen of Auburn on Saturday, fresh off their last second defeat of the Gators in the Swamp.

Well, the Vols improved by attrition last week, and now find themselves ready to welcome Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs to Knoxville. The Dawgs are coming off a big win, but the Vols still have plenty of questions to ask the Dawgs, and CornFromAJar of Rocky Top Talk reminisces about some of them from 1994. Right now, the Dawgs would seem to have the answers, but ...