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News And Views: SEC Week Ten

Each Monday, we kick off the week with a wrap-up of the previous weekend’s action.  Below are our Hot List rankings — based on overall team strength, not just last Saturday’s results — as well as some bulletpoints for each squad.

Rising And Falling

1.  Les Miles reputation — rising (but give it time)
2.  Cameron Newton’s reputation — falling (even though he’s done nothing wrong)
3.  South Carolina’s stock — falling
4.  Arkansas running back Knile Davis — rising
5.  Vanderbilt’s program — falling
6.  Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray — rising
7.  SEC East — falling (just 2-14 in games against the SEC West)

The MrSEC Hot List

1.  Auburn –  Here’s what we know: a) The NCAA is looking into the recruitment of Cameron Newton.  b) Auburn officials are so confident nothing shady went on that they continue to play him.  c) Several pea-brained columnists and talk radio hosts called for Heisman voters not to vote for Newton.  Now maybe something comes of these rumors or maybe it doesn’t, but anyone who votes against the kid based on rumors is showing less integrity than Newton has to date.  Oh, and if the Tigers keep winning… they’ll play for the national title.  Almost forgot that.

2.  LSU –  Les Miles is getting universal praise today and he deserves it.  But how ’bout some applause for defensive coordinator John Chavis?  The Tigers’ offense has shown up in a couple of big games this year, but the LSU defense has kept the Tigers in the national title hunt all season.  Aside from a bad day against Cam Newton — and no one’s really had a good day against Newton yet — the Bayou Bengals have been dominant.  What a solid hire Chavis was two years ago.

3.  Alabama –  Nick Saban warned that each team has to develop its own chemistry and advance at its own pace.  This year’s Tide team should show us that’s true… as well as a couple of other things.  First, that it’s near impossible to win back-to-back national championships (as Florida learned last year).  Second, that the SEC doesn’t allow anyone to stay on top for long (no back-to-back champs since 1997-98).  Also, that one or two youthful mistakes in a single game can derail everything that pundits see “on paper” heading into a season.

4.  Arkansas –  The Razorbacks’ big win at South Carolina resurrects some fading goals in the Ozarks.  If the Hogs win out — and they’ve got UTEP, Mississippi State and LSU left on the schedule — Bobby Petrino’s team could finish with 10 wins in the regular season.  Do that and Arkansas could still land a BCS bid.  Saturday’s win in Columbia was absolutely huge.  And kudos to Knile Davis for his recent play.

5.  Florida –  It still doesn’t look like 2006 or 2008, but the Gators are at least showing signs of improvement.  They’ve scored 89 points the past two weeks and now get to host South Carolina for the East Division belt.  It might not have been pretty, but if the Gators best the Gamecocks they’ll be back in Atlanta for a third straight year.

6.  Mississippi State –  How will the Bulldogs respond to the death of Nick Bell?  With Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss still on the schedule, it’s likely Dan Mullen’s squad would have lost two out of three to close their season anyway.  But can they rally together in the face of tragedy… or will things take a turn for the worse?

7.  South Carolina –  Certain things happen each and every fall.  The leaves change colors.  My allergies get bad.  And South Carolina’s football team withers and falls like a dry, brown leaf.  The Gamecocks’ loss to Arkansas had all the markings of a team that wasn’t ready to play.  Now they’ve got a chance to play in their “biggest game ever” against Florida with Troy and Clemson waiting down the road.  Florida’s a toughie, but if Carolina loses to both Florida and mediocre Clemson, we’ll all know that The Chicken Curse still rolls on.

8.  Georgia — Fans aren’t happy.  Columnists aren’t helping.  And Auburn is waiting for the Bulldogs to come to The Plains this weekend.  It’s hard to imagine Georgia’s defense slowing Cam Newton, but Aaron Murray, AJ Green and company could put up some points of their own.  Remember, Auburn snuck past MSU, Clemson, Kentucky and LSU this year.  There’s no reason to think this one won’t be competitive.

9.  Kentucky –  The Wildcats are 5-5.  That’s not too far off from where most people projected before the season began.  Vanderbilt is up next.  With Vandy’s woes, it’s likely UK will lock up their 6th win before closing the season with traditional bully Tennessee.  If the Cats can snap Tennessee’s 1984-2009 winning streak, Joker Phillips will earn some applause.  (Maybe some?  Maybe?)

10.  Ole Miss –  It sounds like Jeremiah Masoli will play on Saturday and that’s good news for the Rebels.  Tennessee’s defense has been horrible against the pass.  UM still has something to play for, too.  With LSU and MSU after the Vols… a bowl bid is still a possibility for Houston Nutt’s squad.

11.  Tennessee –  The Vols can still go bowling, too, but it will require a four-game winning streak to close the season.  Win #1 came Saturday against a rancid Memphis team.  Freshman quarterback Tyler Bray is a gunslinger.  Last week he played pitch and catch and dissected Memphis’ secondary.  Can he be as carefree against Ole Miss without turning the ball over?  If so then you can bet all the folks on Rocky Top will have a new hero to focus on heading into 2011.

12.  Vanderbilt –  Vandy should try to invoke the mercy rule.  They’ve lost offensive players and defensive players.  They’ve lost starters… and backups to starters… and backups to backups.  They still have three more games to play — doesn’t it seem like they’ve already lost 14 games? — and they were pretty darn bad to begin with.  Pity Robbie Caldwell.  He’s going to get some nice money for his efforts as VU’s coach, but it’s got to feel like someone’s paying him to stand still while another person hits him over the head with a pipe.  Again and again.  And again.



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