Courtesy of DCM Fan Zone
By Erik Stinnett
Two longtime SEC East big boys. Now going two entirely different directions.
That was the story coming out of Jacksonville, Fla., over the weekend after the latest installment of the Florida-Georgia rivalry ended with Florida winning 27-3.
It was yet another sign this season that the Gators, under first-year head coach Jim McElwain, have become relevant again on the national scene. Very relevant, in fact. Florida, whose lone loss this season came at LSU, is now one SEC win away from punching its ticket to the Georgia Dome to play for an SEC title, and a win there could very well mean a spot in the College Football Playoffs.
Georgia? The Bulldogs didn't just lose Saturday. They turned in one dud of a performance. Georgia looked listless. Lifeless. Really, at this point in the season, the program looks direction-less. After starting the season 5-0 and rising to No. 8 in the AP poll, Georgia has now skidded off the runway, losing three of its last four games -- to Alabama, Tennessee and now Florida. And even the lone win it squeezed in there -- a 9-6 topping of Missouri -- was a hard-on-the-eyes clunker.
While McElwain is closing in on more and more Coach of the Year honors for this season, Georgia coach Mark Richt is looking more and more like a guy who is coaching his final season in Athens. Richt has been at Georgia since 2001, but there's a sense that the lack of championships -- this season now being another one -- is starting to test the patience of the Bulldogs Nation.
Richt guided the Bulldogs to SEC titles in his second and fifth seasons at Georgia (2002 and 2005), but the drought since then has now reached 10 years, counting this year.
Rebels Still Control Destiny in West: These Ole Miss Rebels just aren't going away.
Everyone thought after getting schooled in Gainesville back on Oct. 3, Ole Miss would be well on its way to falling out of SEC title contention. If not after that game, then surely after the Rebels stubbed their toe against a traditional college football also-ran, Memphis, on Oct. 17.
But here we are in early November now, and the Rebels still control their own destiny in the SEC West. Making it to the Georgia Dome to play for an SEC championship isn't a longshot anymore. It's well within reach for Hugh Freeze's crew.
Back-to-back convincing SEC West wins over first Texas A&M and then Auburn last Saturday served notice that the Rebels are still very much alive and well and a force to be reckoned with as the 2015 regular season winds down.
Ole Miss has three games left -- home dates with Arkansas and LSU and then a road trip to rival Mississippi State. Win all three and the Rebels are SEC West champs ... regardless of what anyone else, including current top 10 powers LSU and Alabama, does.
Vols Better Than Their Record: If people didn't believe it last week, Tennessee's 52-21 blowout win at Kentucky has to have everyone believing now that these Volunteers are surely the best four-loss team in America right now.
For Tennessee it's been a season of what-ifs. Heading into this season, the overriding sentiment was that these Vols were loaded with enough talent to be a serious contender to win the SEC East for the first time since 2007.
And, as the season has worn on, it's pretty clear people were right on the mark assessing Tennessee's talent level and the fact that this team had the tools to be very, very good.
What people couldn't figure into the equation was how Tennessee would suffer meltdowns late in games after performing so well through three-and-a-half quarters or so. Tennessee could easily be undefeated at 8-0 right now. It's not that much of a stretch at all.
The Vols were in good position to win all four games they lost, but in each case, they found a way to lose rather than find a way to close out the victory. They lost to Oklahoma by seven points in double-overtime, to Florida by one point, to Arkansas by four points and to Alabama by five points.
Sinking Tigers: The whispers of discontent are growing down on the Plains.
Auburn, which played for the national championship just two years ago and was predicted by many to win the SEC this season and be in strong contention to make the four-team College Football Playoffs, just keeps losing SEC games.
The Tigers fell at home to Ole Miss last weekend, dropping their record to 1-7 in their last eight SEC contests dating back to last season. Their lone SEC win in that span was a narrow, 30-27 win over a middle-of-the-SEC East-pack Kentucky team.
It would have been hard to believe just two years ago or even three months ago that this 2015 Auburn squad would be in sole possession of the SEC West cellar in early November and in danger of not even qualifying for a bowl game.
Courtesy of DCM Fan Zone