Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Around The SEC; National Notes

Around The SEC

TENNESSEE & MISSISSIPPI STATE:  I might as well include these two schools together because the news is the same.  Both Lane Kiffin and Dan Mullen heavily criticized SEC officials following controversial calls in their games this weekend against Alabama and Florida respectively.  Kiffin went so far as to suggest that the SEC prefers that Florida and Alabama keep winning so that they can meet as undefeated teams in the SEC Championship Game and that the SEC refs were helping the cause.  Regarding his decision not to attempt to get closer for a game winning field goal, Kiffin stated, "You run another play and you throw an interception or they throw another flag on us -- I wasn't going to let the refs lose the game for us there and some magical flag appear." 

Dan Mullen had issues with the replay official not overturning what seemed to be a clear fumble at the goal line that was instead upheld as a touchdown.   Mullen stated, "I don't even know why we have replay right now in the Southeastern Conference if they're not going to utilize it....I hope he's severely punished if he ever works another SEC game again, because I think it's completely unacceptable."   A still shot of the play in question is below. 

While I have no doubt that the head SEC officials would like to see a monster ratings grabber match up of undefeated Florida against undefeated Alabama in the SEC Championship game, I just can't believe that games are being fixed like Kiffin suggests.  But I certainly don't blame people for bringing up the issue because these things do indeed look fishy.

ESPN and other news outlets have jumped all over this story and are blasting the conference officiating.  I see this as a good thing for LSU with the giant game in Tuscaloosa looming in two weeks.  All eyes will be on the refs that day, and the pressure will be on the officials to not make any questionable calls that goes Bama's way or to throw any "magical flags."  

AUBURN:  The War Eagles continue to limp through the second half of the season.  They hope to break a three game losing streak at home against Ole Miss this weekend.  With Georgia and Alabama still on the schedule, this game becomes a must win for Auburn unless they want to go bowling in Shreveport or Memphis.  A once promising season is suddenly raising a ton of questions on the Plains regarding first year head coach Gene Chizik.  Chizik's old team, Iowa State, seems to be doing better off without him as they're off to a surprising 5-3 start. 

SOUTH CAROLINA:  The Gamecocks are pleased to be 6-2 at this point in the season, but things will likely turn south in a hurry.  South Carolina still has to play @ Tennessee, @ Arkansas, vs. Florida, and vs. Clemson.  They would do very well for themselves to win two of those games, but that makes this weekend's game at Tennessee very important. 

National Notes

Georgia Tech quietly finds themselves with a 7-1 record with four games remaining. They travel to Vanderbilt this week before hosting Wake Forest and playing at Duke. They could very well be 10-1 before hosting Georgia to close the season. Unless they stumble against Wake or Duke, Georgia Tech will be in Tampa playing in the ACC Championship Game. A whole lot would have to happen for them to be considered a player in the national title race, but you never know what could happen.

LSU could potentially be matched with a Big-10 team in their bowl game, so I've started to pay special attention to the Big-10 conference race and the bowl pecking order. The Big-10 looks to be in good position to send two teams to BCS bowl games. With no losses and a win against Penn State already in the bag, Iowa is in great shape to win the conference. Penn State and Ohio State still play each other, and that contest could be for the right to play in a BCS bowl game. However, Ohio State also has to deal with a home game against Iowa before traveling to Michigan. It would seem likely that Iowa wins the conference and that either Penn State or Ohio State still goes to the BCS with the other going to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando.

USC plays at Oregon this weekend in a game that will likely decide the PAC-10 championship.  USC has won seven PAC-10 championships in a row entering this season.  The PAC-10 could also potentially send two teams to BCS bowl games depending on how these two teams do after this game.


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