Starting 11: Alabama’s Magic First Downs Edition

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As we enter October there are now six undefeated SEC teams remaining, five of them in the top ten. It’s a sign of how dominant the SEC is that having half of the top ten teams in the country, and four of the top six, is just expected at this point. No one in the rest of the nation even blinks.

By late on Saturday night there’s a good chance that there will be four undefeated SEC teams.  number will stand at four, as the two biggest games of the college football weekend are both in the SEC.

In fact, we’ve got a hell of a doubleheader on tap, LSU at Florida at 2:30 ct on CBS followed by Georgia at South Carolina at night on ESPN. That’s a hell of an SEC tandem, the two biggest games of the day.

I’m giving you my picks early on this game, I’m taking Florida and South Carolina.

Now let’s dive into the Starting 11:

1. Ole Miss fans are up in arms over this magic first down for Alabama.

Now, look, here’s the deal, Alabama doesn’t need any help from the officials to be the best team in America. And do I think represents some hidden plot on the part of SEC officials to give Bama an advantage? Of course not. Especially not on the first drive of the game.

But, even still, how in the world can this happen?

2. Congrats to Texas A&M on its first SEC win.

There are a lot of landmines left on this schedule, but A&M figures to be favored in every game but home against LSU and on the road at Alabama.

Mississippi State will be a toss-up — and that Louisiana Tech game remains a tough one as well — but there’s a decent chance of A&M making a run to 9-3.

If that happens and Johnny Manziel continues to develop, the Aggies are going to have a really solid first season in the SEC.

By the way, let’s talk Manziel for a moment here, in the wake of the 453 yard passing and 104 yard rushing effort — a new individual game SEC mark — Manziel has 10 passing touchdowns and six rushing touchdowns.

That puts him on pace for thirty passing touchdowns and 18 rushing touchdowns, a total of 48.

Putting that in perspective, in 2007, his Heisman season, Tebow had 32 passing touchdowns and 23 rushing touchdowns, a total of 55.

3. Geno Smith is amazing.

Okay, but you want to talk video game numbers?

Smith’s on pace for 60 touchdown passes this season.


The record is 58, by Colt Brennan at Hawaii. The all-college football record is 61, in D3.

Presumably that number will decline with four top 25 opponents upcoming, but then again, it is the Big 12.

We’ll see.

4. Tennessee didn’t quit against Georgia when the Vols were down 27-10.

So props for that.

But what’s up with this defense?

Sal Sunseri looks completely over his head.

You can make an argument that with Justin Wilcox’s defense the Vols are 5-0 this year. And at worst they’re probably 4-1 with him back. Basically, there’s no way on earth Wilcox is going to let Florida and Georgia rush for an average of 300 yards each.

Also, why did Derek Dooley attempt a field goal down 14 in the fourth quarter? Of course the Vols missed the 28 yarder. And Tyler Bray remains completely unproven against all good opponents. Four turnovers on the road against Georgia, including three turnovers in a row with a chance to tie the game.

Since the last week of November in 2010 here’s Tennessee’s roster of SEC wins — overtime against Vanderbilt last season.

That’s it.

Dooley is now 1-9 in his last ten SEC games.

With two weeks to prepare for a game at Mississippi State, Starkville is a must win for Dooley.

Absolute must win.

5. Meanwhile, Georgia fans should continue to honor whichever sorority house hosted the SEC scheduler for the past two seasons.

Georgia has just two top 25 games this season.

Florida and Tennessee have five, South Carolina has four.

It’s truly amazing.

I think the Bulldogs lose to South Carolina this weekend, but if not, all they need to do is beat Florida and this team will be 12-0 in the SEC title game.

Thank the SEC scheduler.

And thank Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.

How good are Gurley and Marshall? They’re the number one and four leading rushers in the SEC.

As freshmen.

How good are these guys going to be over the next three years?

It’s going to be scary to find out.

But in the meantime, I don’t believe there have ever been two true freshmen running backs that were this good in college football history.

6. Washington’s upset of Stanford really mattered for the Pac12’s national title hopes.


Because there are only two undefeated teams left in the Pac 12 and there’s probably no way a one-loss Pac12 team is going to the title game over a one-loss SEC team. Why? Because that 38 point LSU win over Washington is going to loom large if LSU is in the mix late in the season.  

7. Arkansas has now been outscored 110-10 in the SEC this season.

The Razorback season has turned into a bad snuff film.

Basically, like this portrait brought to life.

If you gave Arkansas AD Jeff Long truth serum, do you still think he’d fire Bobby Petrino?

I’m not so sure.

How bad is it for Arkansas?

Auburn, Auburn!, opened as an 11 point favorite.

So how many games could Arkansas actually lose?

Look at this schedule.

I mean, the Razorbacks are probably going 3-9. (I’m giving them wins over Kentucky and Tulsa. Which might be too generous).

8. Why is Athens the third best place to go a football game in the South? (LSU and Ole Miss are one and two).

Because Athens, where B’s become DD’s, is the cleavage capital of the SEC, but also because of things like this, meet the Uga ice luge. 

This. Is. Amazing.  

9. Don’t sleep on the Florida at Florida State game.

That’s FSU’s only real chance to lose for the rest of the season.

I know I knocked Georgia’s schedule, but it makes Florida State’s schedule look difficult.

Especially if you add an SEC title game against the presumptive number one team in the country.

Anyway, what if the Gators beat LSU and Georgia, but lose to South Carolina. Then the Gators beat Florida State. That could happen, right?

Has anyone considered that we could end up with five 11-1 SEC teams?

Basically, don’t sleep on Florida’s ability to knock Florida State out of the title race and set up the very real potential of an all-SEC BCS title game.

Talk about a cluster—-.

There’s still a ton of the season left, but an all-SEC title game isn’t looking that far out right now.

10. Okay, okay, I know you want those Georgia girls again so you can zoom in on their photo.

And, yes, that guy really did cut the sleeves off his polo.

And try to ruin this photo by jumping in alongside these lovely ladies who are doing their utmost to fight the evil that is Tennessee butt chugging.

So I’m going to ruin this guy’s next six months.

Is it just me or is Blue Steel’s hairline receding?

11. Here are my SEC power rankings.

Again, to forestall the emails, this is based on what we’ve seen so far on the field. Yes, I bumped Florida up to the number two spot by itself despite the Gators not playing this weekend. That’s what happens when South Carolina, Georgia, and LSU all look mediocre against double-digit underdogs.  

1. Alabama

2. Florida

3. South Carolina

4. Georgia

5. LSU

6. Mississippi State

7. Texas A&M

8. Tennessee

9. Missouri

10. Ole Miss

11. Auburn

12. Vanderbilt

13. Kentucky

14. Arkansas 

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions, and started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers.