FEINSWOG: Learning nothing from an open date

I don't know about you, but I sure needed the bye week.

And I haven't been hit all season.

It sure was nice to simply camp out, pop cold ones and watch college football on TV and try to figure out what the heck is happening in the game.

Saturday left fewer clues, especially in the Southeastern Conference.

So, as LSU prepares for the trip to Tuscaloosa for – regardless of the side stories – a huge football game with national implications, we offer some analysis of the first two-thirds of the SEC season.

Illogical comes to mind.

Take Mississippi State, which LSU steamrolled to start the season way back on August 30. Everyone came away from that 45-0 thinking a) LSU had one heck of a defense and b) State was looking at a long season with more of the same.


I think we can all agree that LSU's defense is not, as some anointed it, the best ever, but more on that later. State, meanwhile, has done itself proud.

The thought there was that Sylvester Croom would not only make history as the first black SEC head football coach, but also as the first black SEC head football coach to be fired. Instead, he's led his Bulldogs to a remarkable 5-4 record at this point with victories over Auburn and Kentucky.

Kentucky? Remember Kentucky, that team that just two weeks ago put itself into the SEC title hunt with the upset of LSU? First rule of the SEC greatness: Defense, defense, defense. Kentucky beat LSU 43-37, lost to Florida 45-37 and then Saturday lost to State 31-14. In other words, and, yes, the LSU game went three overtimes, but Kentucky has allowed an average of 37.6 points the past three games. You don't get to play in the SEC Championship Game if you do that.

Which is a place Florida won't be either. The defending national champs have now lost three of four, are banged up and need a miracle to win the SEC East.

Which brings us to Georgia and Tennessee. Georgia stayed under the radar all season, but suddenly is tied with Tennessee atop that side. But Tennessee beat Georgia two weeks ago, so it has the tiebreaker advantage. Georgia finishes with Troy, Auburn, Kentucky and Georgia Tech.

Which leads us to Tennessee, whose coach, Phillip Fulmer, was supposedly playing for his job this year.

For now it seems pretty secure. The Vols play Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday before finishing with three straight SEC games against Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

You realize that Kentucky is the X factor in the East. The entire side could have three defeats or more and only two teams have ever made it to the SEC title tilt with three league losses, LSU in 2001 and Arkansas in 2002.

Which brings us to the only two teams with only one SEC defeat, LSU and Alabama.

You might like to think this is a winner-take all game, but chances are it's not for Alabama. LSU will win out after this, beating Louisiana Tech, Ole Miss and Arkansas.

But Alabama has to play State, Louisiana-Monroe and Auburn. That State game, coming after LSU, is one of those so-called trap games, plus it's at Starkville. And Auburn is better than Alabama.

I think it's all a moot point as far as LSU is concerned, because I think LSU is going to overpower Alabama and win this game easily.

LSU will go into the SEC Championship Game 11-1 overall and 7-1 in the SEC and be a big favorite.

And the East representative: That's why you don't bet on sports. Good luck figuring that one out.


Baton Rouge sportswriter Lee Feinswog is the host of the weekly television show Sports Monday. He's covered LSU athletics since 1984. His book HoopDaddy is available at www.HoopDaddy.net. Contact Lee at sportsmonday@aol.com or (225) 926-3256.

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