Rivalry weekend brings us some great storylines for week 13. It’s the last time you’ll see your team take the field before their bowl game…if they made one.
How The West Was Won: The only thing standing in the way of Alabama’s run to an SEC championship and national championship is the once-awesome Iron Bowl. It will in all likelihood be a blowout of epic proportions handed to Auburn on behalf of Alabama and Nick Saban, but in rivalry games, you can never count out any team. Nevermind – Bama will take care of business and close out the SEC West this weekend against their hated foes.
Remaining In The National Championship Picture: Three SEC teams are still in the national championship picture in Alabama, Georgia and Florida. All three take on their rivals Saturday to stay in the national championship hunt. The winner of the SEC Championship game between Alabama and Georgia will play for it all. But if Notre Dame loses to USC, the Gators could play either team for it all sitting at #4 in the BCS, assuming Oregon doesn’t jump the Gators. This could get dicey.
Conference Warfare: Three SEC schools take on in-state ACC foes. Georgia plays Georgia Tech; Florida plays Florida State; and South Carolina plays Clemson. Georgia should take care of business, but Florida and South Carolina will have a tough time. Let’s get a clean sweep for all three teams, shall we?
Monster.com Bowl: The Coachless Bowl would have been just fine, too. Kentucky and Tennessee are both preparing to hire another head coach to lead their programs into the future. Several names have emerged at Tennessee such as Jon Gruden, Gary Patterson and even Jimbo Fisher, and Kentucky has rumored to be turned down by Kirby Smart already. David Cutcliffe signed a new extension at Duke as well. That’s two coaches off the list. We’ll know in a few short weeks who we’ll be seeing next fall as these two programs’ head man. But first, someone has to win Saturday, as both sport 0-7 records in conference play. Tennessee should win, but could Kentucky do it two years in a row?
Hoisting The Stiff Armed Trophy: Johnny Manziel can already punch his ticket to New York, but he can lock up the Heisman this weekend by having another memorable game against Missouri. Missouri’s defense, however, has played to SEC standard, only allowing 367.4 yards of offense per game. Manziel averages 378.3 yards per game alone. With another strong showing, Manziel will become the first freshman to ever hoist the stiff armed trophy. What a season he’s having!
Coaches’ Last Stand: Much like Custer’s Last Stand, minus the dying part, John L. Smith, Joker Phillips, and presumably Gene Chizik will all coach their final games on Saturday. We know Smith will be gone, but it’s not official yet. Phillips has already been fired at Kentucky, but Chizik is more of the wild card of the group. However, with the new NCAA investigations breathing down his neck, both Chizik and his Athletic Director Jay Jacobs could receive their pink slips Monday.
The Golden Egg: This is the biggest SEC vs. SEC game this week. A much improved 5-6 Ole Miss team looking to avenge Mississippi State’s lockdown of the state of Mississippi for the last three years under Dan Mullen. With the game being played in Oxford, it will no doubt prove to be must-watch TV. These two teams and fan bases hate each other, and the Rebels and Bulldogs actually match up pretty well heading into this game, despite the difference in the records.
Gaining Bowl Eligibility: Right now, the SEC has only seven teams bowl eligible with six wins, but Ole Miss and Missouri are looking to punch their tickets this weekend. Ole Miss has an easier task of doing so against MSU, but Missouri has an uphill battle on the road against Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M. Will either of these two make it into a bowl game? We’ll find out Saturday.
One Last Hoorah: Arkansas wants one final showing so Tyler Wilson, Cobi Hamilton and company can end their Arkansas career on a good note. Bowl eligibility is not possible and the season ends Saturday, but a win over LSU knocking them out of BCS contention would oh-so sweet for the Hogs.
Role Reversal For The Newbies: Missouri and Texas A&M might think it’s like old times in the Big 12 Saturday when these two hook up in College Station. However, it’s a role reversal, because before the season kicked off, I certainly thought Missouri would have a better chance to make some noise in the SEC East – but I couldn’t have been more wrong! It’s Texas A&M disrupting the entire conference with a dual-threat quarterback. Two spread offenses will be center stage Saturday – Mizzou needs the win for bowl eligibility and Johnny Manziel wants to lock up the Heisman Trophy.
Doing The Unthinkable: Is Vanderbilt winning eight games during the regular season unthinkable? Just two years ago this team was 2-10 when James Franklin took over. The Commodores have won five straight and only Wake Forest stands in the way of eight regular-season wins. If the Dores win six in a row, it will be the first time in 60 years! Franklin is working his magic and making Vandy relevant in the best league in the country. Two questions: 1. Can he turn Vandy into Stanford? and 2. How long will he stay there?
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