THESE TRUTHS WE HOLD TO BE SELF-EVIDENT:
1. Under these scenarios, Florida wins the SEC East and goes to Atlanta:
A. Florida goes 3-0 in its remaining SEC games.
B. Florida goes 1-2 but beats Georgia and Kentucky loses one of its remaining four SEC games.
C. Florida goes 2-1, loses to Georgia but Georgia and Kentucky both lose another SEC game.
D. Florida goes 2-1 but beats Georgia and Kentucky goes 4-0. Florida would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Kentucky.
2. When the Florida defense doesn’t get sacks or turn opponents over, the Gators are extremely vulnerable. The LSU game (0 sacks, 0 forced turnovers) is the perfect example.
3. Although he can’t make some of the throws Will Grier makes routinely, Florida can win with Treon Harris at quarterback the rest of the way. After seeing the film of the LSU game, the Florida staff is likely to tweak the offense a little bit to take better advantage of Treon’s mobility. We’ll probably see fewer drop backs and more rollouts the rest of the way. The most important thing to remember moving forward is this kid has won at every level he’s played. Winners win and this kid is a winner.
4. The Gators have to figure a way to get Jordan Scarlett (A) in the game and (B) with the ball in his hands. Kelvin Taylor and Jordan Cronkrite are both good power backs, but Scarlett has the burst they lack. The Gators can’t go into the Georgia game against a run defense that is stacked between the tackles. LSU knew neither Taylor nor Cronkrite could beat them to the edge. The Tigers were caught flatfooted by Scarlett’s speed to the edge.
5. Whatever it is, Antonio Callaway has it. He has to get the ball in his hands more often in the passing game (3-100 vs. LSU). As a punt returner, he’s lethal. It seems to me that he’s got a bit of Wes Sandy Chandler in him.
6. The 1-2 tight end punch of Jake McGee and DeAndre Goolsby is as good as it gets in the SEC. McGee has great instincts for finding open space in the middle of the field, while Goolsby has wide receiver speed that makes him a mismatch against all but maybe one or two linebackers in the league.
7. As much progress as the offensive line has made through seven games, it still has a long way to go. Florida’s tackles had much too much trouble handling Louis Neal, Tashawn Bower and Arden Key off the edge, which required too much help to slow them down. That translated into running 3-man routes, which played into LSU’s hands.
8. When you watch Bryan Cox Jr. you can almost feel the inner rage with which he plays. He brings a kind of intensity on every single play that needs to spread contagiously to every player on the defensive unit. When a defensive unit with as much talent as Florida plays with an inner rage, bad things happen to the other team.
WEEK 7: SEC POWER RANKINGS
1. LSU (6-0, 4-0 SEC): Circle November 7 on your calendar. That’s when the Tigers travel to Alabama for what figures to be the game that decides the SEC West championship. When the Tigers throw for more than 200 yards like they did against Florida, there isn’t a team they can’t beat. If they can’t throw, then someone is going to stop Leonard Fournette cold.
2. ALABAMA (6-1, 3-1 SEC): Ever since the Bama defense was embarrassed by Ole Miss, it’s been playing with a scary good kind of focus and intensity. Against Texas A&M, the Bama defense had 12 tackles for loss and 6 sacks. The pressure up front led to three pick sixes. Maybe Jake Coker isn’t going to be anybody’s QB star, but he’s tough as nails and battles for extra yards for first downs rather than slide. When Derrick Henry gets the ball 25 or more times per game, opposing defenses are going to wear down in the second half.
3. FLORIDA (6-1, 4-1 SEC): If Florida beats Georgia in two weeks, it’s game, set and match for the SEC East title. When the Gators get sacks and force turnovers, their defense is as good as there is in the SEC. Jim McElwain can talk until he’s blue in the face about how nothing really changes with Treon Harris at QB, but there are things that have to and will change. Mac saw for himself against LSU that Treon has to roll out where he has the option to run or throw.
4. TEXAS A&M (5-1, 2-1 SEC): The Aggies are just not ready for prime time. They had everything going for them against Alabama but lost their poise early and often while Bama played with a been there, done that attitude. Texas A&M has the talent to win every game on the schedule but there are issues between the ears.
5. MISSISSIPPI STATE (5-2, 1-2 SEC): Slowly, steadily, Dan Mullen has this team improving every single week but without an effective running game, you can pencil in a couple of losses. Even so, winning eight games after all the personnel losses from last year would be quite an accomplishment.
6. GEORGIA (5-2, 3-2 SEC): The Bulldogs managed only 120 rushing yards against Missouri. Funny how Sony Michel and Keith Marshall looked like world beaters after Nick Chubb pounded opponents into submission. Nick’s not around anymore, the O-line is soft and the Bulldogs are going to struggle to move the ball against Florida in two weeks.
7. OLE MISS (5-2, 2-1 SEC): The Rebels get Laremy Tunsil back this week but will that ignite a fire in them? Watching them play against Memphis we saw a team that’s loaded with talent but plays without any kind of emotional edge. If everybody on the team developed a killer instinct, the Rebels could beat anyone in the country. Without it, they can lose 2-3 more games.
8. TENNESSEE (3-3, 1-2 SEC): With the exception of this week’s game at Alabama, the Vols have already done the heavy lifting. Once past Bama and there are five very winnable games. If you thought the Tennessee fans were obnoxious after going 7-6 last year, let them finish 2015 on a 5-6 game winning streak and they will be unbearable. Offensively, they could do some damage against Alabama but the defense was, is and will be a problem.
9. MISSOURI (4-3, 1-3 SEC): It’s baptism by fire for freshman QB Drew Lock, who would look a whole lot better if Mizzou could simply run the football. The defense is ferocious but the Tigers need something from the offense to get to the 7-8 win mark.
10. AUBURN (4-2, 1-2 SEC): Auburn is getting better. At least that’s what they’re saying. The Tigers beat Kentucky and normally that wouldn’t be cause for much celebration but this is a year when you can’t be too picky about the things you cheer for. With the exception of Idaho, Auburn won’t be favored to win another game. Getting to 6-7 wins would be an accomplishment.
11. ARKANSAS (2-4, 1-2 SEC): With six games to go, the Hogs have to face the reality that they’ll be underdogs in all but the Tennessee-Martin (D1AA) and Missouri games. This was the year that was supposed to change everything but instead of ascending Arkansas has taken giant steps backward.
12. KENTUCKY (4-2, 2-2 SEC): The Wildcats could have and should have beaten Auburn, but couldn’t finish. Among the six remaining games, three of them are winnable. Kentucky probably wins two and gets bowl eligible but this is a season in which the Wildcats could have done so much more if only they could finish games.
13. SOUTH CAROLINA (3-4, 1-4 SEC): The post Steve Spurrier era began with a win over Vandy in The Bottom Bowl. Interim coach Shawn Elliott is 1-0 and the Gamecocks are assured that they won’t do an oh-fer-8 in the SEC.
14. VANDERBILT (2-4, 0-3 SEC): This was Derek Mason’s best chance to get his first SEC win but three Johnny McCray interceptions and two fumbles doomed the Commodores while extending Mason’s SEC losing streak to 11 games.
WEEK SEVEN: AP TOP 25 POLL
1. Ohio State (6-0)
2. Baylor (6-0)
3. Utah (6-0)
4. TCU (7-0)
5. LSU (6-0)
6. Clemson (6-0)
7. Michigan State (7-0)
8. Alabama (6-1)
9. Florida State (6-0)
10. Stanford (5-1)
The rest of the top 25: (11) Notre Dame (6-1); (12) Iowa (7-0); (13) Florida (6-1); (14) Oklahoma State (6-0); (15, Tie) Michigan (5-2) and Texas A&M (5-1); (17) Oklahoma (5-1); (18) Memphis (6-0); (19) Toledo (6-0); (20) California (5-1); (21) Houston (6-0); (22) Temple (6-0); (23) Duke (5-1); (24) Ole Miss (5-2); (25) Pitt (5-1)
If I had a vote:
1. Ohio State (7-0)
2. Baylor (6-0)
3. LSU (6-0)
4. Alabama (5-1)
5. Clemson (6-0)
6. Utah (6-0)
7. TCU (7-0)
8. Florida State (6-0)
9. Michigan State (7-0)
10. Florida (6-1)
The rest of my top 25 would be: (11) Texas A&M (5-1); (12) Notre Dame (6-1); (13) Oklahoma State (6-0); (14) Stanford (5-1); (15) Iowa (7-0); (16) Oklahoma (5-1); (17) Memphis (6-0); (18) Michigan (5-2); (19) California (5-1); (20) Houston (6-0); (21) Toledo (6-0); (22) Duke (5-1); (23) Mississippi State (5-2); (24) Ole Miss (5-2); (25) Temple (6-0)
RANKING THE CONFERENCES
1. SEC: Although Memphis is an excellent team that would probably win big in the Big Ten, Pac-12 or ACC, it’s still embarrassing for Ole Miss to lose to them. LSU and Alabama are legitimate national championship contenders while Florida (offense) and Texas A&M (quarterback) are very good but they have issues. Still, top to bottom it’s the best league in the country.
2. Big 12: Baylor averages 64 points and 719.7 yards per game. The Bears are scary. TCU averages 50 points and 616.3 yards per game. The Froggies can score but have serious trouble stopping anyone. Okie State will find out if it is a contender or pretender in November. Oklahoma will have a tough time making folks forget that loss to Texas.
3. Big Ten: Okay, so Michigan State and Iowa are undefeated. Does anyone really think either one is going to knock off the Buckeyes? Ohio State is the only team in this league that you could honestly say could contend in the SEC. When Michigan is playing in a second tier bowl, it will remember that botched punt against Michigan State.
4. Pac-12: Utah probably goes on cruise control the rest of the way. Stanford looks good considering Pac-12 opposition but that loss to a Northwestern team that has been exposed says plenty. California could emerge as the best team in the north.
5. ACC: It’s still Clemson and FSU and the 12 Dwarfs. Duke plays nasty defense but do the Blue Devils have enough depth? North Carolina and Pitt both have one loss, but both have serious issues.
ALL TOO EARLY HEISMAN RADAR
1. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: Florida geared its entire defense up to stop Fournette and succeeded to a degree. He had to carry 31 times to get his 180 yards and 2 TDs. Fournette has 1,202 rushing yards and 14 TDs this season and he’s caught 6 passes for 56 yards.
2. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU: All Boykin did was throw for 436 yards and 4 TDs while running for 74 and another TD against Iowa State. For the season, he’s thrown for 2,539 yards and 25 touchdowns while running for 440 and 5 more TDs.
3. Seth Russell, QB, Baylor: Just another day at the office for Russell, who threw for 380 yards and 5 TDs while running for 160 and another TD in the win over West Virginia. His season totals are 1,907 passing yards with 27 touchdowns and 338 rushing yards for 5 TDs.
4. Dalvin Cook, RB, FSU: He went off for 163 yards and 2 TDs against Louisville Saturday while catching 4 passes for 60 yards. Through six games he’s already carried for 955 yards and 10 touchdowns while catching 11 passes for 131 yards and 1 TD.
5. Greg Ward Jr., QB, Houston: Houston is unbeaten and he’s a big reason why. Against Tulane he threw for 222 yards and a touchdown while running for 77 yards and 3 more. For the season he has thrown for 1,524 yards and 9 TDs, while rushing for 631 and 17 touchdowns.
Michigan punter Blake O’Neill will join the Stanford band and Wrong Way Riegels on the short list of college football’s greatest screw-ups after his botched punt that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Michigan State. Speaking of Michigan State, does anyone think the Spartans would be anything more than a run of the mill 6-6 team in the SEC?
Ohio State is at its best with J.T. Barrett at quarterback. As well as Cardale Jones played in those three games that led the Buckeyes to the national championship last year, it’s increasingly evident that Barrett is the better QB. In retrospect, Ohio State probably would have won the national championship had it been Barrett at QB and not Jones in those last three games.
Gary Pinkel hasn’t uttered a word of detail about the indefinite suspension of Maty Mauk. It’s been three games now so most Mizzou fans believe it had to be something drug-related.
Utah is the best team in the Pac-12 but as hard as I try I can’t see them in the College Football Playoff although I know they’ll get there if they run the table.
Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman is practically uncoverable. He’s averaging 21.4 yards per catch (41-877) and has caught 16 TD passes. Just think, it’s only midseason.
Boise State turned the ball over eight times and lost to Utah State, ending the Mountain West Conference’s hope of crashing the Selection Committee top tier bowl games party.
Ben Raphel of Crimson Quarry writes about Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson and his prospects of staying gainfully employed after the Hoosiers blew a 25-point lead and lost to Rutgers, 55-52: “We suffered an embarrassing come-from-behind loss at home to a coach who berated a professor about changing his player’s grade for a Modern Dance class. That’s the epitaph for 2015 Indiana football right now.”
QUESTION OF THE DAY
After Florida’s inability to run the ball against LSU, what do you think has to be done to get the running game going for the last five games of the season?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Although I really liked Dire Straits from the very beginning, what really made me a Mark Knopfler fan was his soundtrack album to the movie “Local Hero.” I really love the way he incorporates Scottish and Irish rhythms into his music. His latest CD is “Tracker” which was released back In March. Knopfler will be playing in Chastain Park in Atlanta next Saturday night, followed by gigs in St. Augustine (October 27), Melbourne (October 28), Clearwater (October 30) and Fort Lauderdale (October 31). Today’s music is a live performance from London from 2013.