It’s really kinda comical when you hear someone step up and pop off about some college football conference being better than the SEC. Better? Honestly, none compare. Year in and year out, it really never changes.
South Carolina’s 2012 October is a perfect case in point. The Gamecocks faced Georgia, ranked fifth, two weeks ago and Louisiana State, ranked ninth, last week. Now, without a chance to even come up for air, they get No. 2 Florida this Saturday.
What’s next, No. 1 Alabama?
Only if Carolina, currently ranked seventh after a 23-21 loss to LSU, can slip past the Gators and win their final two SEC contests against Tennessee and Arkansas, a preseason top-10 pick.
That would send the Gamecocks into their first SEC championship game appearance, with the unbeaten Tide a most likely opponent. Or, if they fall, unbeaten Mississippi State, currently ranked 12th, could be the foe. Or Texas A&M, currently 18th, with Heisman hopeful Johnny Manziel. Or LSU, now sixth, in a rematch of their slugfest.
You get the picture. It’s prime time every time out.
First, though, comes this week’s trip to Gainesville. Oddly, the Gators, known more for their flare under the likes of Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer, have become a much more physical, hard-nosed squad under Will Muschamp. Basically, they have the look of a classic SEC power – with defense, a strong running attack and a horde of athletes being used to pound down the competition.
Carolina, odder still, has developed the same kind of team – under Spurrier.
The availability of RB Marcus Lattimore, who suffered a bruised hip against LSU, may factor, but the Gamecocks are deep at that position, just like every other one. So, too, is Florida.
If anything, your key matchup pits Florida QB Jeff Driskell, who has been more impressive running the ball than throwing it, against Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney. The latter disappeared a bit against LSU, while Driskell directed the Gators past LSU two weeks ago, mainly by stuffing the ball in RB Mike Gillislee’s gut and letting the senior roll up tough yards.
It’s the game of the week in college football. Of course, it is – it’s pitting two SEC squads ranked in the top 10 against one another … for the third week in a row.
No. 4 Kansas State at No. 13 West Virginia – This, actually, could headline our upset watch. The Mountaineers saw their national-title hopes implode at Texas Tech a week ago. But bolstered by a rowdy home crowd and behind QB Geno Smith, still a strong Heisman front-runner, they have the firepower to push the Wildcats to the limit. If they can tackle dual-threat QB Collin Klein at all, book it.
No. 6 LSU at No. 18 Texas A&M – The Tigers were able to keep South Carolina’s Connor Shaw under wraps, and only won by two at home. They have a much tougher task in containing the electrics Manziel, on the road.
No. 17 Texas Tech at No. 23 Texas Christian – The Horned Frogs may have been looking at a pretty special season if not for QB Casey Pachall’s substance-usage issues. This game marks the first of five in their final six games against ranked opponents. Yikes.