One week left in the SEC’s regular season and an astounding five teams still remain in contention for an automatic BCS berth or an at-large BCS berth (or in the case of Auburn, both). Thanks to the BCS making the national title game a separate game altogether, there are now 10 BCS spots available, meaning that the prospect of three SEC teams nabbing spots is not all that far fetched. However, with both TCU and Boise State making strong claims for at-large bids, two spots seems a bit more likely.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the candidates.
#1 Auburn – 11-0
Barring losses in their final two games, Auburn looks destined for a BCS bowl. Should they lose to Alabama and beat South Carolina in the SEC Championship, they have the automatic bid locked up. Should they beat Alabama, then lose to South Carolina, they would almost assuredly get an at-large bid. However, the Tigers aren’t thinking in those terms. Auburn needs to win out (and keep Cam Newton eligible) to get to the national championship game and anything else would be a disappointment.
#5 LSU – 10-1
If the season ended today, they would get an at-large bid. They are ranked in the top five and their only loss came to #2 Auburn. However, they still have a tough game left on the schedule when they make the trip to play at Arkansas. People have played up Auburn-Alabama all year, and rightfully so, but LSU-Arkansas is going to be one of the best games in the SEC this year. If LSU loses, they can forget about the BCS.
#11 Alabama – 9-2
The Tide entered this season as the clear favorite for the national title, but a couple road stumbles in SEC play have made this season a disappointing one. When Alabama plays host to their arch rivals, the Auburn Tigers, on Friday, they will have a chance at redemption. Not only would they spoil the Tigers bid for a national title, but they would also position themselves for a return to the BCS. A win would would they likely propel them into the BCS top eight, making them a very attractive candidate with their highly mobile fan base and large TV following.
#12 Arkansas – 9-2
Arkansas has had a very successful season, outside of losses to both Alabama schools. Their offense is probably the most balanced in the SEC and would be the best if not for Cam Newton’s brilliance. Arkansas held serve in a great game against Mississippi State this weekend and now have a big opportunity in front of them as they host LSU next weekend. A win for Arkansas would send them up the BCS rankings and into at-large consideration. Unfortunately, they would still likely be behind Alabama in the at-large pecking order if Alabama beats Auburn. Arkansas needs to beat LSU and Auburn to beat Alabama.
#18 South Carolina – 8-3
South Carolina still has a regular season game left against Clemson, but for their BCS hopes, it is utterly meaningless. The Gamecocks on path to the BCS is a win over Auburn in the SEC title game.
Results from this weekend just as soon as I watch Blake Griffin cram on the Knicks for the 10th time.
#13 Arkansas 38 #22 Mississippi State 31 (2 OT)
What an entertaining game this was. I didn’t really think Mississippi State could keep up with Arkansas on offense, but Chris Relf and the Bulldogs gave Arkansas everything they wanted and more. The Bulldogs didn’t have a play of longer that 29 yards on the night, but they moved the ball methodically throughout. They made 32 first downs on their 100 offensive plays, racking up 486 yards in the process.
MSU dominated time of possession, but Arkansas’ quick strike attack kept them in it. The Bulldogs scored 10 points in the final five minutes of regulation to send it into OT. MSU looked poised to punch it in the end zone on their first drive of OT, but as Vick Ballard barreled toward the goal line on a reception, he fumbled the ball through the end zone, giving the ball to Arkansas. Arkansas’ kicker missed a 38 yarder for the win, but Arkansas scored a TD in four plays in the second overtime period. Chris Relf was then sacked on a fourth down attempt to close things out.
#5 LSU 43 Ole Miss 36
Ole Miss came to play for this one. LSU’s normally stingy defense was saved by (gasp) strong play by QB Jordan Jefferson. The Rebs entered the fourth quarter with a narrow 24-23 lead, but the scoring was far from over. The two teams scored on the first five possessions of the final stanza, and thanks to the one point deficit, the teams attempted two point conversions on each of the five, with LSU finally converting one on their last TD. Ole Miss hurt itself with two very costly personal fouls, which gave LSU a free 30 yards in the final drives of the game. The loss is the seventh for the Rebels, meaning bowl eligibility is no longer a possibility.
Tennessee 24 Vanderbilt 10
After UT’s shellacking of Ole Miss last weekend, this one figured to be a blowout, but the ‘Dores stayed in it most of the way in spite of all the injuries they have racked up. In fact, Vandy scored a TD with under three minutes to close to within 17-10 of the Vols, but Tennessee put it out of reach with a 28 yard TD run by Tauren Poole. Vandy’s defense held up pretty well against a dangerous attack, forcing three turnovers, while the Vandy offense looked better than it has in a long while.
#10 Alabama 63 Georgia State 7
Alabama’s defense held Bill Curry’s boys to just 165 yards of offense, forcing five turnovers in the process. GSU only avoided the shutout when Albert Wilson took a kickoff to the house from 97 yards out. Eight different players scored touchdowns for the Tide, including two on defense or special teams.
#17 South Carolina 69 Troy 24
Marcus Lattimore scored TD’s on USC’s first three drives, racking up 102 yards on seven carries in the process and his day was then done. I’m sure he appreciated the rest. Otherwise, South Carolina made this one even more of a laugher thanks to five turnovers by the Trojans, including two pick sixes.
Florida 48 Appalachian State 10
Any inkling that App State may recapture Michigan magic and knock off the mighty Gators was summarily dismissed when the Gators raced out to a 21-0 first quarter lead. By the time it was over, four Gators had rushed for touchdowns, including Jordan Reed’s three, and Florida racked up 547 yards in the process.
1. Auburn 11-0 (7-0) – 11 down, two to go
2. LSU 10-1 (6-1) – Not always pretty, but they keep winning football games
3. Alabama 9-2 (5-2) – You have to think they’ll come out breathing fire against Auburn
4. Arkansas 9-2 (5-2) – I still think they might be one of the two best teams in the conference
5. South Carolina 8-3 (5-3) – Two weeks before they get second shot at Auburn
6. Mississippi State 7-4 (3-4) – Only losses are to teams ranked 1-4 above
7. Florida 7-4 (4-4) – Florida State closes out their regular season
8. Georgia 5-6 (3-5) – One of best teams in the country that isn’t yet bowl eligible
9. Kentucky 6-5 (2-5)
10. Tennessee 5-6 (2-5) – Need win vs. UK to make bowl
11. Ole Miss 4-7 (1-6) – Best performance of season fell short
12. Vanderbilt 2-9 (1-7) – Will they keep Robbie Caldwell around?