SCOTT: SEC News & Notes

"There are only three of us left right now, and we all play each other. We've got a big game this week, and Auburn and Florida play each other in a week. All three of us could very possibly end up with a loss. It'd be exciting to see a team (go undefeated), but this is a tough league." -- Georgia coach Mark Richt.

And then there was one.


Fans from Auburn and Georgia spent a lot of time fretting over whether the Bowl Championship Series would prevent the Tigers or Bulldogs from playing in the national championship game. Turns out it was all wasted time and effort.


While both Auburn and Georgia got exposed as something less than what they appeared to be earlier in the season, Florida emerged as the SEC's only unbeaten team just six weeks into the season.


"The hard work this team has put together. ... We do everything together," Florida quarterback Chris Leak said. "That's what being a great team is all about. That's what great teams do. They come together and play a strong four quarters against a good team and come up with the victory."


And make no mistake about it – LSU is still a good team. Just not as good as Florida at this point, especially when Florida forces five turnovers (three interceptions and two fumbles).


"Today was a great day for Florida football," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "This is one of the best environments that I've ever been a part of. I'll put this against anyone in America after today."


It remains to be seen if the Gators will ever get that chance. Now, instead of listening to Auburn fans whine and complain about the supposed national conspiracy to keep the Tigers out of the BCS national championship game, we'll have to listen to Gator fans listening for the black helicopters as they grind and gnash their teeth about Ohio State, USC, Michigan, West Virginia, et al., keeping Florida out of the national championship game.


Instead of worrying about the things they can't control, the Gators would be wise to follow the path of well-worn clichés: worry about the things they can control and take it one game at a time. The only thing Florida can do is keep winning.


The Gators (6-0, 4-0 SEC) are good enough to win the rest of their games and force a national debate on the BCS issues, but it's not like they're unbeatable.


"We're on cloud nine," Gators defensive tackle Ray McDonald said, "but we know we can't be on cloud nine too long because we've got Auburn next week."




Here that hissing sound? That's the air coming out of Saturday's Auburn-Florida game. If Auburn doesn't play any better than it did last Saturday, it has no chance against Florida.


Technically, unranked Arkansas's 27-10 road victory over No. 2 Auburn is supposed to be a major upset. Anyone who saw the game, however, could see that the Razorbacks simply outplayed the Tigers in every aspect of the game.


"I thought we could compete for four quarters," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "To say we were going to be up 10-0, I don't know about that. To say we were going to win by 17 points -- no way."


It was the most complete performance by an Arkansas team in a big game since a 27-10 win over Alabama in 2004 and the most complete flop by an Auburn team since a 17-3 loss to Georgia Tech in the second game of the 2003 season.


"They came in here and pretty much dominated on the ground," Auburn safety Eric Brock said. "We really have no excuses. I'm pretty much shocked by our performance. They pretty much beat us at our own game."


It's not like Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville didn't warn anyone who would listen that the Tigers had problems on both sides of the ball. It's just that few people seemed to listen and some of them appeared to be players.


"We got beat to the punch. We got outcoached. We got beat in our brand of football," Tuberville said. "We knew starting the week we had to run the ball and be able to stop it, and we didn't do either one."


So where do the Tigers go from here? They can start calculating their path to the SEC championship game or they can learn a valuable lesson from the way they play against Arkansas. They've got less than a week to figure it out or they'll join LSU among the list of SEC teams with two losses.


"We're disappointed, but this is not over," Tuberville said. "We know we have a lot of football left. This was the first half of the season. But it's difficult to swallow knowing we didn't go out and give a better showing. We're not that bad of a football team."




Georgia entered the week after allowing just 6.8 points per game, thank in large parts to a schedule that included those mighty offensive juggernauts UAB, Colorado, Ole Miss and South Carolina before Syvelle Newton returned to quarterback.


Tennessee exposed the real Georgia by rallying from a 24-7 deficit and putting up 383 yards and 44 offensive points in a 51-33 victory in Athens. For all those legitimate concerns about a struggling offense and uncertainty on offense, it turns out the defense was bigger cause for anxiety than anyone expected.


"They executed and we weren't making plays," defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said. "When you lose a game like this, all you can say is you lost."


But a loss is never just a loss. Like Auburn's loss to Arkansas, Georgia's loss could have future ramifications if the Bulldogs don't learn from it and bounce back quickly.


"You get so used to winning, to lose in this fashion is troublesome," defensive end Quentin Moses said. "I don't know which hurts [worse], to lose by one or to lose like this."


They've got two weeks and games against Vanderbilt and Mississippi State to figure it out get ready for Florida.




With Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee all with one loss at this point the question for the SEC becomes: can an SEC team play for the national championship with one loss? LSU did it in 2003, but the Tigers needed some cooperation from other top teams losing.


The SEC might need both Ohio State and Michigan to lose, as well as USC. Then there's the Big East issue. Either West Virginia or Louisville will likely be undefeated at the end of the regular season.


Surely that would open up a spot for a one-loss SEC team right?


"I'd argue that, but I doubt it's going to happen," said Richt, who votes in the coaches' poll that plays a part in the BCS standings. "I don't know if I'd vote that way. I'd probably have to vote for the undefeated team. But if I thought the undefeated team played next to nobody and another team had one loss by one point .... "


The problem is depth and parity. It's both a blessing and a curse for the SEC right now. Except for Mississippi State, there's no real obvious win on the SEC schedule.


"I think back in the mid-'90s there wasn't quite as many really good teams," said South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, whose Florida teams won six SEC championships from 1991-2000. "There are about six teams now that could win the league."


It won't capture the attention of the national media or fans across the nature, but from an SEC perspective it will be interesting at this point to see how the losses affect LSU, Auburn and Georgia. Tennessee is obviously a better than it was when it lose to Florida on Sept. 16 so the Vols have done their part to bounce back and get better,


But what about LSU, Auburn and Georgia? It's too early to throw in the towel and start planning for a shot at the Music City Bowl.


"In the big picture, this is not as bad as it feels," tailback Thomas Brown said. "Everyone is down and devastated right now, but there's still a lot of football to play. In the SEC, you never know what might happen. We still have a chance to end up in the SEC championship game."




Tuberville will get ripped by critics this week for even talking about the BCS and the playoff debate last week, but he didn't bring up the topic and he still made some excellent points.


Coaches don't like the rip the college presidents in public, but since Auburn's president (Dr. Ed Richardson) is merely a figurehead and ranks somewhere below Tuberville in the Auburn power structure he can pretty much say what he wants.


Here's what Tuberville had to say on the topic:


"You have presidents that for some reason look at the situation as more for the money than having a national championship on the field. They keep coming up with these lame excuses about academics and missing classes. Football players miss less class than anybody.


"There'd be so many things you'd have to change in the way of conferences and TV contracts and traditional games — it'd be so hard to do that. The first thing you'd have to do is get the presidents to agree, but most of them could care less about a playoff system.

"It's hypocritical, and until we can get the presidents to understand to do something for these student-athletes and the sport, we're not going to make any headway.


"We added a BCS game - for what in the world? I understand we're avoiding lawsuits and let everybody else make a little money. But let's take care of the players and our sport, and then you work backward. Let's take care of having a true national champion, and then add more to the BCS. It's all about money in our sport."


Tuberville isn't the only one who isn't afraid to rip into the presidents about the lack of a playoff.


"When I was coaching at Florida, I was a playoff proponent," Spurrier said. "Of course, it doesn't do any good, because they don't listen to coaches and any of the people who run college football."




Richard Scott is a Birmingham, Ala. based sports writer, author and freelance columnist in Tiger Rag. Reach him at

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