Kicking Off Week 13 with Rivalries and Trouble in Athens // 11.23.09

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GATOR HYPE-O-METER
On a scale of 1 to 100

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Hovering. Between the offensive malaise and the emergence of other contenders, the buzz is being kept in check.

UPS AND DOWNS
A look at who's going which way in college football 

Takeup_medium RICH BROOKS
Wins second game of Kentucky career against SEC East team not named "Vanderbilt." Now, if he could just get his players to play like that against South Carolina and Tennessee ...

Takeup_medium NICK SABAN
We were wrong. The LSU program can't run itself no matter who you put in charge.

Takedown_medium LES MILES
What's worse: Throwing your offensive coordinator and quarterback under the bus, or lying to do it?

Takedown_medium CHARLIE WEIS
When you're calling for your own firing, things are really going downhill.

Takedown_medium RICH RODRIGUEZ
When was the last time Michigan had two losing seasons in a row? The players will just have to hit the weight room a little harder if the offseason.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
A few things to think about this week

Bragging rights are the most important rights of all
Two SEC coaches could really use victories over their ACC rivals this weekend: Mark Richt and Steve Spurrier.

Richt is probably pretty obvious. He and his coordinators have been under fire from the Dawgs faithful for months, and many have already written off Saturday's showdown with Georgia Tech as a loss. Most Georgia fans would have told you a couple of years ago this should never happen, but a 45-42 defeat last year and a disappointing 2009 will change that.

For Spurrier, it's more about direction. South Carolina is in the process of fading down the stretch for the third year in a row; a win against Clemson this Saturday would not only give the Gamecocks a rare victory in the cross-state showdown, it would give them a chance to move up a bit in the bowl selection process and maybe end up with the second 8-5 record in Spurrier's tenure. Otherwise, expect more questions about just when he's going to become a regular at a Myrtle Beach golf club near you.

I might be the only person still upset with changing the Iron Bowl to a Friday game and the battle for the boot (LSU-Arkansas) to a Saturday game, but that's my opinion and I'm sticking with it. It might not be a long-lived tradition to have the Tigers and the Hogs play on the day after Thanksgiving, but it's our short-lived tradition. But that's when they'll play this week.

There are other rivalries on tap as well on this final weekend of the regular season. The Egg Bowl is reprised, with Ole Miss once again on pace to close the season strong but facing a Mississippi State that is improving under Dan Mullen. Tennessee looks to continue its lengthy winning streak against Kentucky after the 'Cats exciting win over Georgia; Florida faces Florida State after yet another subpar season for the Seminoles.

Poll position
There was no apparent reason for doing so in any of the results this weekend, but some voters tinkered with the Top 3 on their ballots after three games in which nothing really changed. In the AP, the order remained the same but one first-place vote went from No. 2 Alabama to No. 3 Texas. There were no other changes. Florida and Alabama both lost a first-place vote and a point in the coaches' poll when two votes simply disappeared.

LSU went from No. 10 to No. 17 in the AP poll and the coaches' ballots. Ole Miss re-emerged at No. 20 in the AP survey and at No. 25 among the coaches. As usual, the fact that the Rebels have the much-hyped head-to-head victory and a better overall resume than the Bayou Bengals can't overcome poll inertia.

The Harris voters are now given three votes to TCU because -- well, why not? LSU goes from 10 to 16 and Ole Miss is at No. 25. Temple, Nevada and Oklahoma all get votes.

The new dean?
It's still a very remote possibility that Richt will be fired at the end of this season, though it can't be ruled out in 2010 if things don't get better in Athens. But if something were to happen to end Richt's tenure with the Dawgs, the man in line to become dean of SEC coaches would be Vanderbilt's Bobby Johnson. That would be a bit odd for the longest serving coach to be at its most consistently underperforming school.

But even if Johnson were to leave the Commodores at the same time, the next candidate in line would be no more likely a choice: Kentucky's Rich Brooks. Brooks was in serious danger of being fired after the 2005 season, by which point he had gone 9-25 in Lexington before the historic stretch of four consecutive bowl-eligible seasons.

Not that the title is one to fight for. It finally caught up to Phil Fulmer last year, and it's causing problems for Richt now. Sometimes, being the new guy gives you a bit more breathing room.

SEC NEWS

GEORGIAPOCALYPSE

This might be humorous if it were gallows humor
But I'm pretty sure the Senator was being serious when he said this:

I’m being a little unfair to Kentucky with this.  There’s a clear talent gap between the ‘Cats and the Dawgs – Georgia’s coaches aren’t as good as Kentucky’s at getting their charges prepared to play hard for sixty minutes.

To recap: A Georgia fan thinks his coaches were outdone by a centenarian, a man named Joker and a defensive coordinator whose name know one knows. This movie doesn't end well.

The Mayor's take
It's also not good for the Dawgs brain trust.

The last sixteen games, during which the ‘Dawgs have gone 9-7 and conceded 34 or more points eight times, have set this program back fifteen years. ... We are where we were in the mid-1990s and we face a massive rebuilding job, one which will require replacing at least some of the contractors and masons currently assigned to the task.

Harsh words, but probably just as hard to write for their author.

David Hale writes long and thoughtful blog posts
Which is why this line has to be troubling for Dawgs fans:

With as much abject failure as occurred in a 30-minute span, it's hard to fully grasp it in totality.

He then dissects a quote by Richt and shows how its wrong. The sharp knives are being unsheathed in the Peach State.

Some are starting to ask serious questions
I'm not sure what the answer to this one is, in part because I'm not a Georgia fan.

They're even coming up with new words
Sad thing is, even getting to Shreveport might require some help.

Georgia will be led by Uga VIII eventually
There are rules that must be followed.

HEISMAN RACE

That and 693 yards rushing
If you want to argue about Heisman candidates, that's fine. But this kind of stuff is just absurd.

Ingram also leaves games when they're over
Case in point: He sat down with almost 10 minutes left in the second quarter of the Chattanooga game. When did Tebow leave the FIU game again?

Tebow does have the most rushing touchdowns in SEC history
Then again, the Heisman is for a season and not a career.

ELSEWHERE

The truth is out there
It's just not likely going to be spoken by Les Miles.

Thank you, civilization
KKK members attending the "protest" against the loss of TSWRA: 12. Size of a diverse group of counterprotesters: 250. But what's the likelihood that those numbers will change the perception of the South?

Not that it was harmless
You know, Houston, I can't really blame recruits for staying away from a potential Klan rally. Call me crazy -- well, actually, you have no room to call anyone crazy -- but I would have stayed away.

Arenas sets record
Most punt-return TDs in SEC history now resides in Alabama. More are in reach for the talented return man.

Sometimes, it doesn't even require asking a question
As much fire as Richt and Co. might be taking in Athens, even darker clouds are gathering in Baton Rouge.

Because no one else is playing football, apparently
ESPN is going to Gainesville to cover the annual Florida-Florida State game because ... because ... I have no idea why they think this is the best game of the weekend. It will end with a dazed Bobby Bowden walking out of the stadium muttering questions to himself about what Chris Rix was thinking when he threw that interception and why Steve Spurrier called a pass play for that tenth touchdown.

I would have 'mixed feelings' about the Pro Combat uniforms as well
But mostly because they are bizarre beyond words.

Concussion optional
Some fans are going to wear eye black as a tribute to Tim Tebow. I actually have nothing cynical to say about this.

That's Paul Petrino, not Bobby
Though you could be forgiven for assuming it was the Arkansas head coach interviewing for the job at Western Kentucky. Being Bobby's brother, he learned from the best.

How could the Renardo Sidney situation get even more convoluted
By getting the courts involved.

Injury Report

RB Michael Smith (Arkansas)
Hamstring injury, season

LB A.J. Jones, OL Carl Johnson (Florida)
MCL injury, likely out for the week; ankle sprain, questionable

OTHER NEWS

Ohio State will not be defeated by 40 by Southern Cal this year
Instead, it will be a team from Oregon selected to annihilate the Buckeyes in Pasadena. Musberger still thinks Southern Cal deserves to play for the national title.

The next hurdle for Boise
Nevada has actually started putting their season back together just as they're about to take on Boise for the WAC title.

I'm actually beginning to respect Charlie Weis quite a bit
Say whatever you want about the Irish and their blunt head coach, but at least he's bluntly honest about himself too.

"If they decide to make a change, I'd have to say I'd have a tough time arguing with that. If they decide to make a change, I'd have a tough time arguing that because 6-5 is not good enough. Especially when you've lost five games by a touchdown or less and several three-point games that went right down to the wire."

That's honesty.

You could get better votes of confidence
Read this story very closely: "Departing" athletics directors don't tend to be the best people to guarantee your job.

It's not just football that's disappointing in Norman

"Choke-lahoma"? I'm sorry, but at this point I would have to absolutely agree with that nickname.

Everybody has a bad BCS game or five -- it's when you start losing them in the regular season that they notice.

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