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Rebuilding more difficult for Florida with parity in the SEC

Florida
Content provided by Swamp Things – Gators Blog.

Florida and Alabama have played each other in the SEC Championship Game seven times in the past 18 years. (Orlando Sentinel photo)

On Saturday, when the SEC Championship Game kicks off at the Georgia Dome, two teams that thought they’d be playing will be watching. With Alabama and Florida at home, is there a changing of the guard in the SEC?

Not quite, but No. 19 South Carolina makes its first appearance in the title game while No. 1 Auburn tries to win its second title. That both made it to Atlanta in a year when the Crimson Tide and Gators entered the year ranked in the top five shows an increased parity in the SEC.

“Remember the topic of the SEC media days in Birmingham was, ‘Is it good for the conference that Alabama and Florida have distanced themselves from the rest of the conference?’” said CBS analyst Gary Danielson, who will call the game with Verne Lundquist. “Boy, that seems like a long time ago. What I think is coming to fruition here is what I’ve been predicting for three years and it hasn’t come yet. We’re going to see more parity. These teams are better coached.”

For Florida and Alabama, that could be bad news. With eight losses between them this year, both programs are in rebuilding mode.

Florida coach Urban Meyer assured fans he would rebuild. After the Gators’ fifth loss of the season, he promised to spend this month before the bowl game improving for the immediate future and next season.

If this year’s title game is any indication, though, it’s going to be more difficult than ever to get back to Atlanta.

“It’s not going to be easy this year or in the future for Alabama or Florida to just roll their helmets out there and win,” Danielson said. “No one is intimidated by Florida or Alabama anymore.”

A LOOK AT THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 1992-2009

School Appearances Wins
Florida 10 7
Alabama 7 3
LSU 4 3
Tennessee 5 2
Georgia 3 2
Auburn 3 1
Arkansas 3 0
Mississippi State 1 0


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Auburn Football Practice Report

The second-ranked Auburn football team put in its final full practice of the week, going 60 minutes on the outdoor practice fields Thursday afternoon. The Tigers will travel to Atlanta Friday for an afternoon walk-thru, which is closed to the public, at the Georgia Dome.
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Cocktail Thursday: Watching Other People Play Games That Matter Edition.

Georgia
Content provided by Dawg Sports.

There are a variety of reasons to get a bit crotchety over this weekend’s SEC Championship Game, a game which for the fifth year in a row will not include the Georgia Bulldogs. For one, Auburn is playing in the game, and around here we hate Auburn. For another, South Carolina is playing in the game as well. We don’t hate South Carolina, though we do hate to see them succeed because, egad, they were insufferable enough when they were awful for decades at a time. After a national championship in baseball and a divisional tittle in football, every door in Richland County will have to be widened by 2 feet just to allow for all the big-headed traffic.

But we’ll watch it and we’ll like it because its the last SEC football of the season, and like squirrels in September we must fatten ourselves up for the impending lean times. You know what else you can do on a frigid night when other teams in your conference are playing meaningful football and your team is not? Drink.

So, in lieu of a gameday cocktail, I thought I’d provide you with a way to wile away the evening with whatever cocktail you choose. Dawg Sports readers, I am pleased to present . . . The 2010 SEC Championship Game Drinking Game:

  • Every time Vern Lundquist gets confused and thinks Steve Spurrier is coaching the Florida Gators in the Georgia Dome, drink.
  • Every time a member of the broadcast crew refers to Cam Newton as “this young man” or uses the words “adversity”, “scrutiny” or “debit card linked to a secret numbered account”, finish your drink.
  • If Tim Tebow is shown onscreen cry in your drink, then drink.
  • If Bo Jackson appears onscreen in file footage from his playing days, drink, then scream at the television “Bo knows elective hip surgery!!!” Depending on how much adversity Cam Newton has faced by that point in the game, and whether Tebow can be patched in via satellite, this may become very, very difficult.
  • If Bo appears onscreen live from the Auburn sideline point and shout “Hey it’s Charles Barkley!” and drink or don’t drink at your leisure. This would be even better if you’re in the Georgia Dome, because Bo’s a little touchy about that weight he’s gained. Maybe he should try MMA.
  • Every time Stephen Garcia scrambles out of trouble then inexplicably makes things even worse with a fumble or interception, the first player to scream “Brah!!!!” and finish his drink becomes “The Tanneyhill.” The Tannyhill gets to direct one person per quarter to finish their drink at any time. Unless the Tanneyhill actually is Steve Tanneyhill. In which case, Bro, you totally need to send us some pictures of your SEC Championship Game party.
  • If Pat Dye is mentioned by the broadcast crew, slip the person to your right whatever cash you have in your pocket under the table, then drink.
  • If Pat Dye actually speaks on camera, take your pants off and finish your drink.
  • Every time Steve Spurrier makes that constipated face of his (you know the one, don’t even pretend you have watched a scintilla of SEC football and don’t know the Spurrier constipation face . . .) drink.
  • Every time Spurrier throws his visor, finish your drink. Then throw your visor or hat. If you’re not wearing one grab the headwear off the person nearest you and throw it. If your headwear theft fails, you must finish your neighbor’s drink.
  • Every time Nick Fairley does something unsportsmanlike without getting penalized, drink half your drink.
  • The first time Fairley is penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, whether he had it coming or not, chug your drink. The last person to finish his drink is known as “The Trooper.”
  • Subsequently, every time Trooper Taylor is shown waving his towel around like a jackass, take turns punching the Trooper in the face and screaming “act like an adult, jackass!”
  • Every time Marcus Lattimore breaks a big run, drink. No joke here. I’m just trying to get you hammered and this seemed like the quickest way to do it.
  • Every time Alshon Jeffery makes a catch, scream “pump that, Kiffy!!!” then drink.

Remember, drink responsibly, and don’t spear anybody two seconds after they release the ball. Or pimp your kid’s athletic services out for cash. Stay away from those and you should be fine*. I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about the mens’ sport we’re best at, basketball. All together:

Until then . . .

Go ‘Dawgs!!!

*It would also help if your short term financial interests align with Mike Slive’s. Every little bit helps, right?


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Gators likely Gator Bowl bound after loss to FSU

Florida
Content provided by Swamp Things – Gators Blog.

With only the SEC Championship Game remaining, the bowl picture is clearer for the SEC’s teams. For the Gators, a 31-7 loss at FSU on Saturday likely has them headed to the Gator Bowl.

Arkansas’ win over LSU likely helped the Razorbacks jump into a BCS game, thus reshuffling teams at the top.

The only thing that affects bowl bids now is the Auburn-South Carolina title game on Saturday. A Tigers win puts them in the national championship. Should they lose, they and South Carolina would still likely get BCS bids. These projections go on the assumption that Auburn wins that game.


Tostitos BCS National Championship (Jan. 10, 8:30 p.m.at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.): Auburn vs. BCS team

Allstate Sugar Bowl (Jan. 4, 8 p.m. at Superdome in New Orleans): Arkansas vs. BCS team

Capital One Bowl (Jan. 1, 1 p.m. at Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando): Alabama vs. Big Ten team

AT&T Cotton Bowl (Jan. 7, 8 p.m. at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas): LSU vs. Big 12 team

Outback Bowl (Jan. 1, 1 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa): South Carolina vs. Big Ten team

Chick-Fil-A Bowl (Dec. 31, TBA, at Georgia Dome in Atlanta): Mississippi State vs. ACC team

Gator Bowl (Jan. 1, 1:30 p.m., at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium): Florida vs. Big Ten team

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (Dec. 30, 6:40 p.m. at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.): Tennessee vs. ACC team

Autozone Liberty Bowl (Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. at Liberty Bowl Stadium in Memphis, Tenn.): Georgia vs. Conference USA team


BBVA Compass Bowl (Jan. 8, Noon at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.):
Kentucky vs. a Big East team.


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Bowl picture clearing up for Gators, SEC

Florida
Content provided by Swamp Things – Gators Blog.

With one regular season game left, the bowl picture is becoming clearer for Florida and the rest of the SEC.

No. 2 Auburn is currently slated to go to the BCS title game, but the Tigers have loseable games this week in the Iron Bowl at Alabama and next week vs. South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game.

Should Auburn not make the title game, everyone on the list would get bumped down and/or shuffled. Safe to say, Florida is somewhere between the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. The Gators (7-4, 4-4 SEC) can help their case with a win at Florida State this weekend.

Tostitos BCS National Championship (Jan. 10, 8:30 p.m.at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.): Auburn vs. BCS team

Allstate Sugar Bowl (Jan. 4, 8 p.m. at Superdome in New Orleans): LSU vs. BCS team

Capital One Bowl (Jan. 1, 1 p.m. at Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando): Alabama vs. Big Ten team

AT&T Cotton Bowl (Jan. 7, 8 p.m. at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas): Arkansas vs. Big 12 team

Outback Bowl (Jan. 1, 1 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa): South Carolina vs. Big Ten team

Chick-Fil-A Bowl (Dec. 31, TBA, at Georgia Dome in Atlanta): Florida vs. ACC team

Gator Bowl (Jan. 1, 1:30 p.m., at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium): Mississippi State vs. Big Ten team

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (Dec. 30, 6:40 p.m. at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.): Tennessee vs. ACC team

Autozone Liberty Bowl (Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. at Liberty Bowl Stadium in Memphis, Tenn.): Georgia vs. Conference USA team


BBVA Compass Bowl (Jan. 8, Noon at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.):
Kentucky vs. a Big East team.


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Georgia Bulldogs Go "All In," Agree to Meet Boise State Broncos in Georgia Dome to Open 2011 Season

Georgia
Content provided by Dawg Sports.

This is news to no one, but now it is official that the Georgia Bulldogs will take on the Boise St. Broncos in the Georgia Dome to start the 2011 college football season. Although Senator Blutarsky was on board from the get-go, I shared the reservations expressed by Quinton McDawg. Nevertheless, the announcement has been made, the game is happening, and now it is time to get geared up for a marquee matchup to start next year’s critical campaign in Red and Black football history.

Since the ‘Dawgs thumped the Broncos to open the 2005 SEC championship campaign, the world has turned a few times. Georgia, which finished in the top ten for the fourth straight season that year, has been ranked in the top ten in the postseason polls only once since, and this year will mark the third time in five seasons that the Red and Black have failed to crack the top 20 at the end of the autumn.

Boise State, meanwhile, has traded up in changing head coaches, improved defensively, and moved up in weight class. The Broncos appear well on their way to a fifth consecutive season with double-digit wins, a fourth undefeated regular season in the last half-decade, and perhaps even a third unblemished finish in a five-year span. Along the way, BSU has claimed victories over Oklahoma, Oregon (twice), Oregon State (twice), and Virginia Tech.

One clear benefit to opening the autumn with an opponent of the caliber of Boise State is that Mark Richt-coached teams tend to start stronger when they spend the offseason preparing to face a top-tier opponent on Labor Day weekend. In the years Georgia opened with Clemson (2002 and 2003), Boise State (2005), and Oklahoma State (2007 and 2009), the Bulldogs went 53-14, finished no worse than tied for first place in the SEC East four times, won two out of three SEC Championship Game appearances, and went to three Sugar Bowls. In the years Georgia opened with Arkansas State (2001), Georgia Southern (2004 and 2008), Western Kentucky (2006), and Louisiana-Lafayette (2010), the Bulldogs so far have gone 42-19, have made no SEC Championship Game appearances, and have been done playing football before New Year’s Eve in all but two seasons.

There has been a lot of talk the last couple of weeks about how the Auburn Tigers have gone “all in” by continuing to play Cam Newton, adopting a high-risk/high-reward strategy that may leave them at 14-0 on the field and 0-14 or 0-0 in the record book. Well, Greg McGarity and Mark Richt have gone “all in” on Boise State as the season-opening opponent for a make-or-break year for Georgia football. In 2005, the Broncos faced the Bulldogs in the game that would establish whether they were yet ready to join the nation’s elite; in 2011, the Bulldogs will face the Broncos in the game that will establish whether they are yet ready to return to the nation’s elite.

Here’s hoping it works out better for Georgia this time than it did for Boise State last time. I’m excited, I’m worried, and I’m danged sure going. Ordinarily, I’m a Boise State apologist, and I have been for a while now, but, now that the Broncos are back on the schedule, they’re just another enemy wearing orange and blue.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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SEC Championship Football Game Ticket Information

Auburn has earned a spot in the 2010 Southeastern Conference football championship game on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. CT in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga.
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“Hey, It Looks Like Another No Repeat Decade In The SEC”

Technically, Alabama’s chances of repeating as SEC champs are still alive. 

Technically.

The Tide will need a three-way or four-way tie in the West Division to slide into Atlanta via tie-breakers.  It’s been a wacky year in the conference, but it’s unlikely things will get that wacky.  And if they don’t, it will prove once again just how tough the Southeastern Conference really is.

Did you realize that if Bama doesn’t win the league in miracle fashion this year, it will mark the 12th year in a row that the SEC will crown a new champion?

2010 — ???
2009 — Alabama
2008 — Florida
2007 — LSU
2006 — Florida
2005 — Georgia
2004 — Auburn
2003 — LSU
2002 — Georgia
2001 — LSU
2000 — Florida
1999 — Alabama
1998 — Tennessee
1997 — Tennessee

The last time a team repeated as SEC champs was 1997-98 when Tennessee pulled the feat.

That’s a good bit of information to remember should your favorite team capture the SEC flag next month at the Georgia Dome.  Next August, when you’re starting to believe the talk that your fave school will win it all again… slow down, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that the SEC isn’t big on repeat champions. 

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Chick-Fil-A Bowl to scout UK-MSU

Kentucky
Content provided by Chip Cosby on UK football.

Scouts from the Chick-Fil-A Bowl will be on hand Saturday to take in the Kentucky-Mississippi State game.  UK (4-4) would likely have to win out to get serious consideration for the bowl, which features a fifth-selection SEC team vs. a second-selection Atlantic Coast Conference team. The Chick-Fil-A Bowl will be held in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome on Dec. 31 at 7:30 and will be televised by ESPN.

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Spurrier Touches The Spinning Plates

Why?

Can someone tell me why?

South Carolina fans have to be scratching their heads today over word that Steve Spurrier is once again backing away — to some degree — from play-calling.  In a season in which all the plates are spinning and South Carolina is on pace to reach its first-ever SEC Championship Game, Spurrier has decided to jostle the sticks.



That’s like talking to a pitcher about the no-hitter he’s throwing.  Why tempt fate?

“We’ve got sort of a system there where we’re all on the headset,” Spurrier said yesterday.  “I really think the coach who spends most of the time with the quarterback probably should be the play-caller.  GA (Mangus) was sort of the main guy (in the Vanderbilt game), him more than the rest of us.  That was a little different than what we’ve been doing.  I like that because he talks with Stephen (Garcia) in between plays and in between series, and so forth.”

That makes sense.  Allowing the quarterback’s coach more involvement in play-selection is probably a smart thing.  Just not right now.  Not in the middle of the season.

If nothing else, Spurrier has given fans something else to grumble about.  Should USC’s offense trip and fall against an upcoming foe you can bet that Mangus’s play-calling will get some blame, whether it deserves it or not.

Spurrier’s decision to tweak play-calling duties at Halloween with the Georgia Dome in sight… could come back to haunt him.

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