Tennessee and Georgia showed no signs of a letdowns dismantling Kentucky and Florida ahead of what is now the biggest game of the college football season to date. Ole Miss dusted off their beating from LSU to “clown’ on Jimbo and Texas A&M. But the fun and games are over. It’s time for the real show to begin.

Que Jim Mora

You want playoffs, I want playoffs, Jim Mora refuses to talk about playoffs.

Fortunately, we get the official start of the College Football Playoff this week in the SEC. These are the weeks that make us salivate for this sport all year. We will be treated to a monumental #1 vs #3 battle “Between the Hedges” in Athens between the newly crowned #1 Tennessee Volunteers against host and defending National Champion Georgia Bulldogs. Then, the dessert is a night game in Death Valley featuring the SEC’s most dominant programs of the last decade – LSU & Alabama. The winner retains a chance to play for a title. The loser starts playing for the best bowl possible.

Tennessee has undoubtedly seen a renaissance on Rocky Top, but people seem to question their legitimacy each week.

Was their game against LSU, before the showdown with Alabama, a trap? Nope!

Could they slay the same Alabama team that had owned them for so long? Yup!

Would they have a letdown the next week against a patsy or overlook Kentucky headed into the biggest game the program has played in two decades? Again, nope, and nope.

Each week they have answered the call, and in doing so, have garnered their first #1 ranking since Tee Martin took down Florida State in 1998. Their next question comes in the form of the defending national champion and perennial national power, Georgia. Can Tennessee go on the road and an prove they are indeed the #1 team in the country? Or does Georgia remind us all why they have become a mainstay in the nation title conversation?

How do the Volunteers pull off another miracle, you ask? I believe they need to get the most prolific offense in the country rolling – and rolling fast. The loss of Georgia’s top defensive end Nolan Smith could be key in giving Hendon Hooker time to find his favorite target Jalin Hyatt. On the flip side, if Georgia’s talented defense can get the Vol offense off track, they can control the clock and keep Hooker and Co. on the sidelines. The winner of the biggest game of the year will face the winner of what – in recent history – has been the biggest game of every year.

Bama on the Bayou

We have heard all the jokes about Stetson Bennett and Hendon Hookers age, but it got me thinking. What if Tua and Burrow were still in school? Because age wise, it would be the same. How good would they be as college players at their age and maturity now? Just food for thought…

A few weeks ago, this game looked as if it wouldn’t have the luster of years past. Then LSU got hot, reeling off wins on the road against Auburn and Florida and then smacking Ole Miss at home. Thus, rocketing LSU to #10 in the initial playoff polls and setting the stage for an important matchup in Death Valley.

Could LSU be a bit of a mirage? The Vegas odd setters believe so – instilling Alabama as a 13.5-point favorite. Is it because Saban has never lost in Red Stick or do the boys in the desert know something more? As much as Jayden Daniels has adjusted to life in Brian Kelly’s offense, I question how it will translate against Bama’s defense. Florida and Auburn are two of the worst statistical defensive units in the SEC and running QB’s are kryptonite to Ole Miss. Hot take here, but Alabama is a different animal defensively and can shut down LSU’s offense in a way those other teams couldn’t.

However, it’s a Saturday night in Death Valley. Alabama has shown the propensity to struggle on the road with crown noise and no place does it better than LSU on a Saturday night. Can the “Ragging Cajuns” make enough racket to disrupt the Tide offense and always heady Bryce Young? Or does Saban continue his dominance in Death Valley? This Ole Miss fan hopes for a hard-fought rugged Tide victory. One that sees Bryce throw a late interception late in the second half and get called for targeting. If you didn’t know, the Tide travels to Oxford to play Ole Miss next week. One can never start requesting miracles too early against the Tide.

Jimbo Called Kiffin and Saban Clown’s

This has to rank as one of the most ironic comments in the history of sports, right? Let’s got down the list, shall we.

Since that comment Jimbo has lost 4 straight games to unranked teams. One of those being Appalachian St. He lost to both coaches he referred to as clowns – Saban and Kiffin. He refused to speak or shake hands with either of them prior to the games, because like he said, he “ain’t scare of confrontation.” He has now lost 4 straight to the Mississippi schools – who’s recruiting budgets are peanuts in comparison. To top it off, through the same number of games, his record is worse than Kevin Sumlin’s – the man he replaced.

I did all that with out mentioning Jimbo coaches at the weirdest school on the planet. Hey Jimbo, maybe it’s time to reassess who is exactly the clown in this scenario. Hell, maybe I’m the clown. I’m sitting here typing about a guy who is failing his way into generational wealth. Hand me the red lipstick.

Scattered Thoughts

Auburn – I get the Kiffin excitement, but all you are doing right now is helping Jimmy Sexton get him a raise at Ole Miss. Are Auburn fans in this much denial about the toxicity of their program or do the honestly believe others don’t see it?

From what I hear from the Auburn fan base, they still don’t really understand the cultural fit thing and its importance to a program. A perfect example is Hugh Freeze. He is a perfect fit and actually strikes a little fear into the one team you most want to beat, Bama. Yet I don’t really get the sense Auburn fans want him. I think with the hiring of Mississippi State AD John Cohen that ship has sailed anyway.

I now fully expect Auburn to Auburn this hire. However, hand me the popcorn for the Cadillac as the interim head coach deal. I oddly feel like the team will play better from here on out.  It will be interesting to see what he gets out of them this weekend in Starkville.

Mississippi State – This is a game State must win. The more they win now, the warmer the bowl destination becomes. Auburn is ripe for the picking, and their secondary is bad. This should be a game where Will Rodgers and the Bulldogs feast. As much as State has struggled on the road this year, they have taken care of business in Starkville, and I expect Davis Wade to be head in a snare drum loud. Am I the only one who can’t think of Auburn @ State without immediately thinking ‘3-2’? If you know you know. And if you saw, you can’t forget.

Pettey’s Super Scientific SEC Rankings

  1. Georgia – Will they be here next week?
  2. Tennessee – Are they ready to take over?
  3. Alabama – Take care of LSU and you get the winner of the above two.
  4. LSU – Take care of Bama and the West gets wild.
  5. Ole Miss – They supposedly control their own destiny. I think there is a big drop after number 3.
  6. Arkansas – As long as Jefferson is healthy, they are dangerous.
  7. Mississippi State – The middle of the pack is interchangeable from week to week.
  8. Kentucky – Wheels are coming off. I bet Stoops will find a more winnable gig soon.
  9. Texas A&M – All talent no coaching.
  10. Florida – Probably going to lose to A&M this week. Yikes.
  11. Missouri – Decently coached with no talent.
  12. South Carolina – Hope that week of a fake ranking was fun. Back to reality.
  13. Auburn – Most dumpster fires burn out. This one burns on.
  14. Vanderbilt – Crickets.

Enjoy the games this weekend. I’m going to sit back smoke some ribs and enjoy this magical time of year.