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Topics for Discussion: The Reign of the Mississippis and the Pain of LSU and South Carolina

Also: Does Kentucky have any hope of actually winning the SEC East? And who will win this Saturday's biggest games?

Joe Robbins

It's Mississippi's world, and we're all just living in it, right? In what might have been the best day for football ever in the Magnolia State, the Ole Miss Rebels took down the Crimson Tide and the Mississippi State Bulldogs thrashed the Texas A&M Aggies. There are teams with a history of getting up fans' expectations, only to crush them in the end; they have one appearance in the SEC Championship Game between them (a Mississippi State loss). Is this the season that all of that changes, either with a return to Atlanta by the Bulldogs or with Ole Miss' first visit to the title event? Or is it just another tantalizing set-up before a brutal reintroduction to reality?

Just how bad is (i): LSU? There have been hints all along that the Bayou Bengals were in trouble, but we didn't get a real idea of how much trouble they were in until Auburn thoroughly cleaned their clocks Saturday. Auburn doubled up LSU on yardage, almost did so on first downs and averaged 10.7 yards a pass and 6.1 yards a rush en route to a 41-7 win that might not even have been that close. Auburn is obviously a good team in its own right, but this was an obliteration, and LSU's second conference loss in as many tries. Do the Bayou Bengals have anything left to look forward to in college football's toughest division?

Just how bad is (ii): South Carolina? One hour and seven minutes of game time ago, the Gamecocks were ahead of Missouri, 20-7, and seemingly close to an ugly win that would nonetheless keep them ahead of the pack in the SEC East with a forgiving schedule outside of the Auburn game. Now, they're 2-3 in the conference headed into the bye week after the second gut-punch loss in as many games. Terrible play-calling, bad decision-making by Dylan Thompson and continued defensive lapses have dashed any hopes that 2014 would be the long-awaited breakthrough for South Carolina and have instead put even the notion of a bowl bid at risk. The two remaining non-Clemson, non-conference games (should be) gimmes, but is there an SEC win left on the schedule for the Gamecocks?

Flip it: How high is the ceiling for Kentucky? The win against South Carolina didn't necessarily scream title contender; the Wildcats got outgained and their running defense was gashed all night, something that Steve Spurrier apparently failed to notice. (Not that I'm bitter or anything.) If Mike Davis can run for 183 yards on 23 carries, what will Todd Gurley be able to do to this defense? On the other hand, the Wildcats are now 2-1 in the division and get their two most difficult remaining games -- Mississippi State and Georgia -- at home. Is there a real chance that we could be talking about Kentucky's first trip to the SEC Championship Game?

Elimination Saturday: Who you got? In the SEC West, there's the suddenly-titanic game between Auburn and Mississippi State, only one of which will emerge with their undefeated record intact. Over in the SEC East, Georgia will travel to Missouri to try to knock off the Tigers and claim the inside track for the division title once again. So is it a Tiger sweep? Do the Bulldogs run the table? Or do the final results end up somewhere in between?

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Bonus editorial question: We don't often ask these any more, but I'll throw this out to the audience just to see if there's any reaction. This week, we tried to punch up the previews and make them a bit meatier than the quick hits we did in the past. The question is whether people got more out of them, because to be quite honest, they are massively more time-consuming now. (That's part of the reason I didn't get around to doing them for the LSU-Auburn and South Carolina-Kentucky.) The answers here won't necessarily determine things, but if people don't enjoy the new approach, it would help make the decision about future planning.