The Dogs from Mississippi vs. the Cats from Kentucky
Once upon a time, this match-up would've promised a delightfully competitive football game between the pond scum of their respective divisions. However, Mississippi State is no longer a second rate bulldog. In fact, they may be not only the top bulldawg but the top dawg of the conference. Kentucky, however, is still mostly pond scum. To that point, Kentucky is coming off a 41-3 loss at LSU. They'll be at home today, but that just means there will be friends and family nearby to hug them after another beat down.
Black and Gold Bowl
Mizzou and Vandy will face off mid-afternoon. Not much will be at stake. The Commodores are win-less in conference this season. Mizzou needs a win to keep pace in the East with Georgia. The Tigers responded to their 34 point shutout loss to Georgia with a 42-13 victory over Florida. I'd expect such a win would reinvigorate Missouri and that doesn't bode well for Vanderbilt. Furthermore, the game is in Columbia, Missouri.
Rebels and Tigers, Oh my!
This game offers intrigue because #3 Ole Miss hasn't been in this situation, well, ever, and #23 LSU is doing what LSU teams tend to do: lurking. It's easy to rule LSU out of the running for the division, but with only two in conference losses on the season, LSU can still wreak havoc on the standings and, perhaps, even vault itself back into contention. Imagine what happens to the SEC West standings if LSU beats Ole Miss this week, but Ole Miss then defeats #5 Auburn next week. Then, what if Ole Miss loses the Egg Bowl but only after LSU has already upset Alabama and Alabama has in turn defeated Auburn? Implausible, you say. You're probably right, but we do live in a world of implausible ironies:
|This image was retweeted by Bomani Jones.|
Alabama's struggles seem vastly exaggerated. Need proof: go and ask an Aggie how much the Tide's dropped off. Moreover, of all the SEC West contenders, the two teams from the ol' Yellowhammer State are the only ones who've really done this before and rather recently. This turn of events--with the teams from Mississippi in the driver's seat--is, after all, what's so captivating about this SEC season.
Meanwhile, while Tennessee looked much improved earlier in the year against UGA, that improvement feels rather impotently ephemeral coming into this Saturday's game. The loss to Florida and the loss to Ole Miss, which bracketed a win against Chattanooga, shared a striking similarity despite vastly different margins of defeat. The Volunteers can't score. And, to beat Alabama this season, a team's gotta score. Moreover, to beat Alabama's offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, a team's gotta score. However, even if this game disappoints, expect to be entertained by the Neyland Navy's frustrations with and anger towards its former coach. You know, because Lane Kiffin's a prick.
Several of this weekend's SEC games are slated for a 7:30 kickoff, and South Carolina's trip to Jordan-Hare Stadium is among them. Considering Auburn is in the thick of the SEC West donnybrook, it would be fairly accurate to conclude the Tigers have more to play for tonight. However, after two narrow losses to Missouri and Kentucky (followed by a victory over Furman), the Gamecocks will be playing not only to salvage their disappointing season but to land a signature victory that Steve Spurrier can sell on the recruiting circuit.
It seems eons ago, but the Gamecocks were in possession of such a victory early in the season when they defeated UGA by a field goal. I don't think anyone would be surprised to see South Carolina make a game of it, but since that Georgia game, when Mark Richt's staff forgot to hand Gurley the ball from the four yard line, Spurrier's squad has played this season like an hour glass.
Bryan Harvey can be followed on Twitter@LawnChairBoys