Mike Kern: Once again, the SEC is teeming with talent

Posted: October 04, 2012

A team from the SEC West has won four of the last five national titles, including the last three.

Of course a team from the SEC East won the other, plus the one in 2006.

You think we'll ever be saying that about either the Big Ten Leaders or Legends?

Now the SEC has four unbeatens in the top six, five in the top 10, six in the top 20. Soon, two of those unbeatens won't be. Because fourth-ranked LSU, which has dropped two spots in 2 weeks, is at No. 10 Florida. And No. 6 South Carolina hosts No. 5 Georgia.

"The rest of the season hasn't been a whole lot of drama," said Georgia coach Mark Richt, whose job security was being scrutinized not that long ago. "But I'm sure there will be drama this week . . .

"We've got something to prove."

Last year's SEC East champ has lost two straight to the Gamecocks. It has never lost three in a row. The series started in 1894.

South Carolina went 5-0 against the SEC East in 2011, but lost crossover games to Auburn and Arkansas.

Georgia freshman Todd Gurley leads the SEC in rushing, with 536 yards (7.9 a carry) and nine touchdowns. South Carolina junior Marcus Lattimore had 182 yards and two scores in his second college game, a 17-6 win against Georgia in 2010. After missing the final six games of 2011 with a knee injury, he has gained 440 yards (4.8 average) and scored eight TDs this season.

The Gamecocks get Arkansas at home and LSU on the road from the West. Georgia will host Mississippi and head to Auburn.

The other matchup could be even more pivotal, if you still believe LSU can beat Alabama at home in November. But the Tigers, who beat Washington by 38 early, haven't looked very dominant lately. Two weeks ago, in their lone road test, they won by two at Auburn.

Florida, which went 7-6 last season for Will Muschamp after going 8-5 the year before under Urban Meyer, gets South Carolina and Florida alum Steve Spurrier in the Swamp on Oct. 20, followed by Georgia in Jacksonville, Fla.

An SEC team might not make it seven in a row. But it's still by far the best the nation has to offer. Enjoy.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT

On Saturday, first West Virginia's Stedman Bailey (303) and then Baylor's Terrance Williams (314) surpassed the Big 12 record for pass-receiving yards in a game - in the same game. Who held the old record? Hint: He originally went to North Carolina and has never played in the NFL. See Answer Man.

PUT UP TIME?

Nebraska, which dodged a major hit by rallying to beat Wisconsin at home, now heads to Ohio State. In four full seasons with the Cornhuskers, head coach Bo Pelini - who inherited Bill Callahan's mess - has never won fewer than nine games. Yet he has never lost fewer than four. I'm not sure what to make of that, but in Nebraska it probably means he'd be better served by beating the Buckeyes.

WONDERING

Which team Lou Holtz will pick in the Miami-Notre Dame game? Hey, you never know.

ENCORE PERFORMANCE?

West Virginia's Geno Smith would probably get a lot if not most of the Heisman Trophy support right now. But last year, Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden was pretty much everyone's favorite in late November. Then, OSU lost at Iowa State in OT on a Friday night. And he wasn't even a Heisman finalist. So let's see how the Mountaineers do at Texas this week, before we anoint.

ANSWER MAN

On Oct. 14, 2006, in a 42-32 win over Kansas, Oklahoma State's Adarius Bowman had 300 yards on 13 receptions.

SPOTLIGHT ON . . .First BCS Standings

The good news is, America will have to deal with those dreaded BCS standings for a only couple of more years.

The bad news is, America still has to deal with the BCS standings for a couple of more years.

It won't be long before a four-team playoff supplants the current format, which picks two teams to play in a national-title game. We know how well that's sometimes worked out. As a longtime voter in the Harris Poll, which, along with the coaches poll and computer rankings, helps determine the chosen pair, I take this stuff seriously. There are flaws. But it's what we have, at least for the time being. And if anyone thinks the move to picking four is going to make everything right, well, best of luck with that.

Anyway, on Sunday we'll have our starting point. It will mostly mirror the polls. Yet that won't stop some precinct from pointing out some early wrong. I can only urge everyone to show restraint. At least until the end of November, when it matters. Getting too overreactive too early is mainly a waste of energy.

Last year, LSU started out No. 1, followed by Alabama. That's how it ended, though Alabama did slip behind Oklahoma State for 2 weeks after it lost at LSU (and before OSU lost at Iowa State). History indicates that this usually sorts itself out. The reality is that if there's more than two worthy teams, somebody's going to get left out. And going to four teams won't necessarily lessen the controversy as much as it'll shift it. That's progress, although I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it to go from four to even eight, let alone more. Which is what the peeps really want.

So enjoy, no matter who's getting whatevered. Better it happens to them now than in another 8 weeks.

Sidelines

BIG EAST BITS

* Syracuse's (1-3) first four opponents are a combined 16-3. One was Division I-AA Stony Brook (4-1), which just beat Army (0-4) by 20.

* Pitt has had back-to-back 500-yard games for the first time since 1999.

* South Florida's Maikon Bonani has made 12 straight field goals.

SMALLS STUFF

* Widener, No. 17 in Division III, is 5-0 for the first time since 2002, when it lost its sixth game and went 9-1 in Bill Zwaan's sixth and final season. The Pride, which converted five of eight fourth downs in a 40-37 overtime win at Lebanon Valley, is at Stevenson (1-4), which lost at home to Leb Val by three on Sept. 22.

* West Chester (4-1), coming off a win at No. 6 California, is 24th in Division II, the first time Bill Zwaan's Rams have been ranked since September 2009. Now they go to East Stroudsburg (2-2).

COUCH POTATO

THURSDAY

7:30 Arkansas State at Florida International, ESPNU

9 USC at Utah, ESPN

FRIDAY

7 Pittsburgh at Syracuse, ESPN

10:15 Utah State at BYU, ESPN

SATURDAY

11:30 Navy at Air Force, CBS3

Noon South Florida at Temple, 6ABC

Noon Northwestern at Penn State, ESPN

Noon Arkanasas at Auburn, ESPN2

Noon Connecticut at Rutgers, ESPNU

Noon Michigan State at Indiana, BTN

Noon Kansas at Kansas State, FX

Noon Boise State at Southern Mississippi, FCS

Noon Mississippi State at Kentucky, WMCN-44.2.

12:30 Virginia Tech at North Carolina, CW57

1 Towson at James Madison, NBCSN

3 Arizona at Stanford, FOX29

3:30 Illinois at Wisconsin, 6ABC

3:30 LSU at Florida, CBS3

3:30 Georgia Tech at Clemson, ESPN

3:30 Oklahoma at Texas Tech, ESPN2

3:30 W. Forest at Maryland, ESPNU

3:30 Maine at Delaware, TCN

3:30 Iowa State at TCU, FCS

3:30 Kansas at K-State, WMCN-44.1.

4 Michigan at Purdue, BTN

6 Wash. State at Oregon State, Pac-12

7 West Virginia at Texas, FOX29

7 Georgia at South Carolina, ESPN

7 Texas A&M at Mississippi, ESPNU

7 UNLV at La. Tech, WMCN-44.1.

7:30 Miami vs. Notre Dame, NBC10

8 Nebraska at Ohio State, 6ABC

8 Florida State at North Carolina State, ESPN2

10 UCLA at California, Pac-12

10:30 Washington at Oregon, ESPN

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