Tuesday, October 07, 2008

SECond Look, Power Poll edition

Rather than taking the usual SECond look around the conference this week--and offer you the usual gems like "South Carolina isn't as good as you think, but Ole Miss is better!"--I'm going to take this opportunity to respond to Doug's laying down of the SEC Power Poll roundtable gauntlet. He questions, I answer:

1. What's your prediction for the matchup in the SEC championship game, and has that changed at all from what you were predicting in the preseason?

Today? In the West, I think LSU unearthing a completely functional quarterback in Jarrett Lee and getting to host the Tide in their patented Baton Rouge Cauldron O' Gumbo and Madness is reason enough to give the Tigers the edge. In the East, I started the season expecting Georgia to surge past the Gators on the strength of, um, Florida's weakness in the secondary. After seeing the same ol' Gator breakdowns against Ole Miss and then their front seven gashed for 5.6 yards a rush by the feeble Hogs, no reason to back out of that prediction now.

In the West though, yes, I was one of those people who thought Auburn would be representing their division in Atlanta. Just a bit off on that one, I'm afraid.

2. Knowing what you now know about your team, how have your expectations for this season changed? What would constitute a successful season in your eyes, and what would be a disappointment?

Seeing as how preseason expectations at the JCCW ran along "SEC West champs and possible BCS bowl, baby!" lines and are now in the "If we can just match that 7-5 mark from the 2003 disaster, all won't be completely lost" range, it's fair to say that, yes, Auburn's sights aren't being set quite so high these days.

Success at this point constitutes 1. Not becoming a complete Season of Which We Do Not Speak-style under-.500 embarrassment 2. Beating Alabama. I'm not one of those Auburn fans who can live with a 1-11 season if the "1" is the Tide (not that I believe such mythical creatures actually exist) but getting to piss in Bama's "We're Back! We mean it this time! Not like those other four times!" cornflakes for a seventh consecutive season will forgive an awful lot of sins. 7-5ish sins? Yes, probably even those, assuming Auburn shows some kind of willingness to overhaul the offense in the offseason.

3. If your team has Vanderbilt coming up at some point on its schedule, are you worried? If not, which team should be the most worried?

Assuming we skip the obvious answers for this one--I don't think it's any revelation that teams like Miss. St., Kentucky, Duke, and the Artists Formerly Known as Tennessee should probably be concerned about facing a 5-0 team that's already taken down the consensus third-and fourth-best teams in the West--I'd go with Florida. The Gators have been surprisingly careless with the ball the last two weeks and the 'Dores are even more likely to cash in on those kinds of mistakes at home in Nashville. D.J. Moore is as good an answer for Harvin as there is in the league and Adams will have his opportunities against Florida's secondary if he plays the way he did Saturday, too.

That's not to say that Georgia and Wake Forest shouldn't worry--Wake, in particular, will lose in a white-hot minute if they turn it over the way they did against Navy--but I think the Gators offer Vandy their best remaining chance at the BIG upset.

4. Other than perhaps Alabama's season-opening win over Clemson, the SEC doesn't really have any marquee non-conference wins thus far, and a couple of traditional powers (Auburn and Tennessee) are struggling in high-profile fashion. Is it too early to call this a "down year" for the conference? Yeah, I kinda think it is. The SEC doesn't have a ton of nonconference beef on their resume, but they haven't played many of those games, and that's not necessarily the SEC's fault. Clemson was supposed to be a top-10 team and the runaway winner in the ACC; obviously that hasn't happened. Arizona St. was supposed to keep moving forward in the Pac-10 under Dennis Erickson; also hasn't happened. West Virginia was supposed to another national power that an SEC team would have the chance to prove themselves against; they might be the only team in the country that's spit the bit as badly as Auburn has. The only genuine marquee nonconference win for anyone is USC's win over Ohio St. Seriously, look at the polls--the only matchups of teams still in the polls outside of OSU-USC are South Florida-Kansas and Cal-Michigan St. Not exactly must-see TV however you slice it, so I give the league a pass until bowl season.

As for Auburn's and Tennessee's demise, I think it's more than made up for by Ole Miss and Vandy's rises to respectability and Alabama's to ... national ... power. Please excuse me: I now have to find a nice sturdy strength of rope and a rafter.

On with this week's ...

1. Alabama. If I'm a Georgia fan, forgive me if I'm wondering why we let John Parker Wilson carve us up like a Christmas ham just a week before those mighty Kentucky Wildcats made him look like, well, what John Parker Wilson looks like when he's not playing Georgia.

2. LSU. Auburn fans are advised to stay away from sharp objects before considering the results of LSU's last offensive coordinator hire--Gary Crowton, who's only since gone on to shred Ohio St. in a national title game and has LSU looking like one of the league's best offenses with a redshirt freshman QB--and Auburn's latest effort.

3. Georgia. When was the last time the Dawgs had Tennessee as the breather before a big showdown with the undefeated Commodores? I'm guessing when Never.

4. Florida. Uh, Texas hosted the Hogs while Florida had to go on the road, but ... to look at those two games, Texas is miles and miles and miles better than Florida at this point. For what that's worth.

5. Vanderbilt. Well hell, they finally outgained somebody and MacKenzi Adams looked like the second coming of a previous Vandy quarterback whose name rhymes with "Vay Vutler." Next stop: irrational SEC East championship scenarios!

6. South Carolina. Road wins over good teams are apparently what can happen for this team when they don't insist on ridiculous turnovers at the worst possible times. Who knew?

7. Ole Miss. Tempting to blame the defense for giving up 31 points and 400-plus yards to Chris Smelley and Co., but if the offense scores more than three points in the entire second half, the game's obviously kinda different.

8. Kentucky. The Kentucky Wildcats: boring and punchless on offense, powerful and disciplined on defense. The world is in the process of turning itself inside-out over this fact, it's just gotta be.

9. Auburn. 1993 was pretty rad, but '98 and 2003 were bona fide disasters and 2008 is quickly careening in that same disastrous direction, if it hasn't gotten there already. Remind me to pull for some other team in 2013, please.

10. Tennessee. Currently a nose ahead of Auburn in the "Race to the Bottom!" battle for offensive anti-supremacy.

11. Arkansas. If the Hogs ever figure out a way to actually turn all those yards they're capable of racking up into points, they might actually get somewhere.

12. Mississippi St. I really wish the Bulldogs and Hogs would just go ahead and play each other so we could have a definitive answer to who's No. 12 and spend our time worrying about more important things. Like birds.

1 comment:

A united method said...

Happy Birthday.