College Football Week 11 SEC Preview

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Hold on a second, I need to check my Twitter to see if another story with Cam Newton allegations came out while I was typing the title of this post. Ever since the Newton story started breaking last week, it seems like some big new revelation comes out. Whatever happened to gathering all the facts and rumors, then published a story?

I guess I can’t really criticize the journalists who are coming out with all these stories, because it seems to me like their sources are coming to them. Once the first Newton allegation came out, it apparently emboldened everyone else who had ever heard a rumor about his recruitment.

I don’t have much of an opinion, or one that I’m willing to explore in depth, on the guilt of Newton, but I do have an opinion about how sad this whole thing is.

First and foremost, it’s sad for this college football season. Auburn is arguably the nation’s top team and Newton is the nation’s best player, and there’s not much argument about that. With the seasons of both called into question, this entire season has had a pall cast over it, a pall that I don’t see lifting anytime soon.

If Newton is held out of games and Auburn loses, it would be a shame, because with Newton, Auburn is one of the best teams in the nation. If Newton plays and Auburn keeps winning, suspicion will follow them wherever they go. If Auburn made it to the title game, only to have Newton later ruled ineligible, how sad would that be for TCU and Boise State?

In fact, the best case scenario for the sake of this season is for Newton to play for Auburn and for them to lose a game fair and square. That would avert the embarrassment of a vacated title game appearance and turn the conversation to TCU playing for a national title, which would be exceptionally interesting.

The second reason this is sad to me is that this whole ordeal further strengthens the notion that most of the nation espouses: that the SEC is crooked. That’s too bad, because this has been a pretty great SEC football season. Unfortunately, this dude isn’t helping either.

This Saturday, I’m going to do my best to forget about it all and just enjoy the games.

Game of the Week – #22 South Carolina @ #24 Florida – Saturday 7:15 PM, ESPN

Oh, the intrigue. Spurrier back in the Swamp. SEC East title on the line. Florida regaining its offensive form. This one should be a classic. The thing is, though, that I’m not sure South Carolina is going to show up. They sure didn’t show up last week in a home game against Arkansas. If Florida punches them in the mouth, will the Swamp swallow them whole?

My biggest question is “will Marcus Lattimore be healthy and effective?” When he is, this team is tough to beat, just ask Alabama. When he isn’t, they are far from invincible, just ask Kentucky, Arkansas, and Auburn. Lattimore battled a balky angle and couldn’t find any holes last week and the Gamecocks got rocked. Florida’s defense has been good all year, especially in the turnover department, and if Stephen Garcia is forced to throw 35-40 times, he’s going to make mistakes. Look for Ole Ball Coach to have a look like this one on his face when the clock hits 0:00.

Can’t Miss Games

Georgia @ #2 Auburn – Saturday 3:30 PM, CBS

Even if it weren’t for all the Cam Newton distractions heading into this game, I would have told you that this is a tricky one for Auburn. The Tigers have played close games week in and week out and the Bulldogs are talented enough on offense to capitalize on Auburn’s holes. Georgia has won four of five, scoring at least 31 points in each game. The only loss in that stretch came to a quickly improving Florida squad.

So, will Auburn be rattled for this one, or will they rattle around their embattled QB, assuming no more news breaks and he plays on Saturday? Georgia will be playing for Mark Richt, who needs wins to keep his job.

I’m going out a limb here: Georgia beats Auburn this weekend.

#17 Mississippi State @ #11 Alabama – Saturday 7:15 PM, ESPN2

I have to say, I’m feeling pretty smart right now. My Mississippi State sleeper pick wasn’t looking too good after a 1-2 start by the Bulldogs, but a six game winning streak later has Dan Mullen’s squad 7-2, with the same record as Alabama heading into their showdown. I don’t think anyone would have forecasted that.

Now, MSU has a chance to really make their season special. Alabama is licking their wounds after their national title and likely SEC title hopes went out the window after a loss at the hands of Les Miles. Alabama was supposed to be this defensive juggernaut, but did you see what the normally anemic LSU offense did to them? Mississippi State is fairly similar to LSU on both offense and defense, but they don’t quite have the same athletes. They will test Alabama, but if the Tide come to play, I just don’t see it happening.

Games to Keep an Eye on

Ole Miss @ Tennessee – Saturday 12 PM, CBS

Neither of these teams is really any good and the Vols are running out of chances to get of the SEC snide. They will have Neyland on their side and they destroyed Ole Miss last year on the road. QB Tyler Bray has helped out the offense since he took over, while Ole Miss has questions at QB with the uncertain availability of Jeremiah Masoli. This is a game that I have no idea how to predict and don’t really care to watch, but it will be interesting to see who gets the W, because it’s pretty much an elimination game for bowl eligibility.

Vanderbilt @ Kentucky – Saturday 12:21 PM, SEC Network/

Only if You Have Family Involved

Louisiana-Monroe @ #5 LSU – Saturday 7 PM,

Don’t put anything past Les Miles, but the Warhawks have dropped two games to SEC squads by a combined score of 83-10.

UTEP @ #14 Arkansas – Saturday 7 PM, ESPNU

Most CUSA teams have played a BCS conference opponent by this point so we have some idea how they stack up against top quality teams…but not UTEP. The Miners, though, have dropped three of four to the likes of Marshall, Tulane, and UAB, so one would assume that Ryan Mallett will dice them up.