Marshall: College Football Confusion

Columnist Phillip Marshall writes about the 2007 Southeastern Conference race and Tommy Tuberville Auburn Tigers.

Just ramblin' around...

It's been a confusing football season in the Southeastern Conference. And that makes it all but impossible to guess what might happen over the next four weeks.

Consider:

LSU beats Mississippi State 45-0 in Starkville. Kentucky beats LSU 43-37 in overtime. Mississippi State beats Kentucky 31-14 in Lexington.

Georgia wins 26-20 in overtime at Alabama. Tennessee blows out Georgia 35-14. Alabama blows out Tennessee 41-17.

Florida crushes Tennessee 59-20. Tennessee crushes Georgia. Georgia whips Florida 42-30.

Auburn loses back-to-back home games to South Florida and Mississippi State and, two weeks later, wins 20-17 at Florida.

The bottom line: Play poorly or turn the ball over and you can lose to anyone. That's why Kentucky could beat LSU and lose to Mississippi State, why Arkansas could start out 0-3 in the SEC and have a legitimate chance to win out, why there is still no way to know who will be in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game...

Speaking of Georgia, Mark Richt has been one of my favorite SEC coaches since he arrived. He's always exemplified class, but the stunt the Bulldogs pulled after their first touchdown against Florida was bush league and dangerous. Richt has apologized, and he should have.

What would have been the reaction if, after the entire Georgia team ran on to the field, there had been a brawl? It very easily could have happened...

Georgia coach Mark Richt caused a controversy in Jacksonville on Saturday.

Alabama coach Nick Saban sure seems to be in almost a no-lose situation Saturday. If LSU beats Alabama in Tuscaloosa, he'll be praised as the man who built the LSU program, even though Les Miles is in his third season as head coach. If Alabama wins, he'll be praised as having taken a lesser talented team and beaten his old team.

Speaking of Alabama and Saban, you have to give credit where it's due. I wouldn't have imagined the Tide would be 6-2 and 4-1 going into this game. Having said that, the schedule has certainly fallen in Alabama's favor. Tennessee is Alabama's only nationally ranked victim, and it's doubtful the Vols will be ranked by season's end. The Tide probably could have lost to Arkansas and could easily have lost to Houston and Ole Miss. Its only SEC road games have been at Vanderbilt and Ole Miss.

Nevertheless, Alabama certainly could win out, finish 10-2 and 7-1 and play in Atlanta. It also could lose to LSU at home, Mississippi State on the road and Auburn on the road.

In this crazy season, who knows?...

One thing is certain. At the end of this season, too much will be made of the impact of whatever happens on future seasons. If there is one thing I've learned in almost 40 years of covering college football, it is that every season stands alone.

Last January, Urban Meyer was a genius and had so much talent at his disposal that Florida would be a national championship contender every season. The 2007 Gators could well end up losing four or five games.

You really have to wonder why Florida, with all its recruiting power, could be left without a legitimate tailback. Very strange...

Anyone who says that Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville or his agent, Jimmy Sexton, is talking or has talked with Texas A&M about a possible job change is either uninformed or is not telling the truth...

At this point, this Auburn football season feels a lot like 2002. That Auburn team lost four games but was one of the better teams in the country at season's end. It lost two heartbreakers--at Florida when Damon Duval missed a 26-yard field goal try that would have won it and at home against Georgia on David Greene's 19-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-15...

Kudos to Mississippi State coach Sly Croom. The Bulldogs have beaten two nationally ranked teams--Auburn and Kentucky--on the road. If they can win one of their last three against Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss, they'll qualify for a bowl. Croom is a good person and a good coach. Mississippi State administrators will be glad they stuck with him...

Ole Miss probably will finish 0-8 in the SEC, but word is that third-year coach Ed Orgeron will get one more season. My guess, and it's just a guess, is that Arkansas coach Houston Nutt won't be as fortunate, regardless of how the Razorbacks finish up...

Until next time...


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