Here are four questions worth asking in the SEC this week:
Which program would a win be bigger for Saturday – Tennessee or Florida? The fallen giants are both desperate for this victory. It’s the first time these two teams have played each other ranked since 2007. But this win would definitely be bigger for Tennessee, because Derek Dooley is sitting firm on the hot seat. The Vols haven’t been relevant for almost 10 years. There were a couple 10-win seasons in early 00’s, but by and large, this is a program that needs this victory in the worst way. The Vols are looking to achieve a signature win Saturday night.
Can Georgia run the table? Take a glance at the schedule, and you know it is a possibility for the Bulldogs to go undefeated. But will they? Mark Richt has had great teams before start off hot, only to flop against Florida in Jacksonville. They escape Alabama and LSU for the second straight year. The best chance for the Bulldogs to lose is upcoming dates against Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida. You can pencil in a win for the rest of them. This could be Georgia’s year, and it’s very possible they post a goose egg heading into Atlanta to contend for the SEC Championship.
Does Vanderbilt make a bowl game? I had them penciled in to miss a bowl game in the preseason bowl projections because once you strap on the pads all the preseason talk goes away. The Commodores were up for the South Carolina game, but knowing the Dores would probably lose a close game, the road trip to Northwestern would be tough. And here we are talking about the 0-2 start. I like James Franklin, but I’m just not seeing six wins ahead on the schedule. Even winnable games against Ole Miss and Kentucky are going to be tough because both teams can score points and outscore the Commodores.
Will Missouri even make a bowl game? After smacking around SE Louisiana the first week, Missouri lost their first SEC game last weekend against Georgia. Mizzou can compete in this league, and Gary Pinkel will have an idea of the recruits he needs to start signing for depth purposes. I can get to six wins on the schedule, but games against Arizona State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and Texas A&M could go either way. I have confidence in the offense scoring points, but not too much confidence in the depth of the defense to run the full gauntlet the SEC presents. ASU is an important game as this team marches towards bowl eligibility.
QB controversy at South Carolina? No way. Connor Shaw is 9-1 as a starter, and even though Dylan Thompson played lights out last week, Steve Spurrier said Shaw is his starting quarterback. At least the Gamecocks know that if Shaw gets hurt in SEC play, they have a backup in Thompson with experience and confidence.