Published September 18, 2011 - 6:55am
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We thought Saturday would provide clarity on the SEC East race, and the picture remains muddied.
South Carolina survived another scare against a lesser opponent. Like the ECU game to start the season, South Carolina found themselves down early. Unlike the ECU game, Navy actually had the opportunity to win the game late in the 4th quarter.
The Gamecocks have a quality win at Athens against Georgia, but it’s not like they put the Bulldogs away easily. How good are the Gamecocks? It’s hard to say. If Marcus Lattimore is unable to stay healthy, things could get dicey. Lattimore is absolutely putting the team on his back. He finished Saturday with 37 carries for 246 yards and 3 touchdowns. Lots of yards and touchdowns, but also lots of carries.
Georgia finally got a cupcake with Coastal Carolina and easily took care of business. I’m of the belief that Georgia will put things together slowly over the 2011 campaign and be in the thick of the SEC East race.
Florida got the win they needed over Tennessee at the Swamp, but fans might not remember that in 2010, Florida also beat Tennessee and then went on to lose five games. The team is in much better shape than last year. You saw that immediately with the Chris Rainey 20+ yard play to start the game. The team has an identity and a game plan (they didn’t last year).
With that said, the passing game is absolutely suspect, and the Florida secondary can definitely struggle.
You can make the argument that Tennessee is out of the race not only because they lost to East team Florida, but also because they play the toughest SEC West schedule which is definitely likely to add to the losses column.
Perhaps the SEC West teams are the biggest factor in determining who wins the east. South Carolina still has @Mississippi State, @Arkansas and Auburn.
Florida has a brutal October with Alabama, @LSU, @Auburn.
Georgia arguably has the easiest road with just Mississippi State and Auburn at home. They play Ole Miss in Oxford.
Tennessee has the toughest schedule with LSU at home, @Alabama and @Arkansas.
This might be the year we throw out the classic statement that no team has lost the South Carolina – Georgia game and gone on to win the east. With no clear front-runner, the east may indeed come down to schedule.
Then, we’ll likely watch the East winner get pummeled in Atlanta by a much stronger West team.