Rather than try to make any sense of the SEC East race this morning, let’s take a look at something I can explain – my Associated Press ballot.
I have South Carolina ranked No. 15, which is right about in the middle of the pack among AP voters. The Gamecocks highest ranking is No. 9; their lowest is No. 22, and they landed at No. 14 when all the votes were tabulated. So, not much to see there from my ballot. (As always, if you think I’m wrong, tell me here or on Twitter @JoshatTheState.)
Where my ballot gets a little weird is in the top 10. I am perfectly willing to defend being one of two voters in the country with Florida State ranked No. 1 in the country, but even I will admit it is ridiculous that I have Auburn ranked No. 8, but there they sit all the same.
This kind of thing happens every year at this time, somebody out of the blue just keeps winning and keeps inching up the standings just by process of elimination. Think: South Carolina, 2007. That Gamecock team started 6-1 and found itself at No. 7 in the nation all of a sudden. Then the meat of the schedule came around, and South Carolina finished 6-6 and out of the polls. The same thing could very well happen to the Tigers. Or Wisconsin at No. 10. Or Miami, that No. 7 national ranking is built on smoke and mirrors, which I suspect will be proven by No. 3 Florida State on Saturday.
The lesson to take away from that is there is a long way to go, and these things have a way of sorting themselves out.
As for the SEC East race, you can have a look for yourself at the tiebreakers possibilities, but you’d be wasting your time. If the last two weeks have taught us anything, it’s that anything is possible in the SEC East. The division will not produce the national champion, and it does not look like its champion will provide much of a challenge for Alabama (or whoever comes out of the SEC West), but there were will be some pride for the winner in simply surviving it this year. (If you don’t believe me about not challenging the Western Division champion, take a close look at what Alabama did to Tennessee. The Vols just took Georgia to the wire and beat South Carolina, and the Crimson Tide absolutely manhandled them.)
Around the SEC:
The second-happiest coach in the SEC at the end of the South Carolina-Missouri game was Georgia’s Mark Richt. The Bulldogs’ coach turned the game off with the Tigers leading 17-0 and seemingly on the verge of putting away the division title. When he turned the game back on, the Gamecocks had begun to rally and Richt watched the rest of the way.
"It was really painful so I quit watching it," Richt said Sunday. "I picked it back up when it was 17-7 and from that point on it was pretty painful well as well. But at the very end it came out pretty good ."
The statistics on what Alabama has done to opponents in October are daunting. For starters, the Crimson Tide has outscored its opponents 151-0 in the first half of games since the Texas A&M game.
Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall is questionable for Saturday’s game against Arkansas after suffering a shoulder injury, but he is expected to return soon.