Starting 11: South Carolina Is a National Title Contender

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We’re at the halfway point of the college football season and, like just about every year, we’ve got a hot mess of a season unspooling all around us.

Florida State, Georgia, and LSU all took big losses this past weekend. Of the three losing teams, only LSU has a chance to still contend in the national title picture. Georgia and Florida State are done. (This is where Bulldog fans argue they could still run the table, upset Alabama in the SEC title game and play for the BCS championship. And this is where I tell them, no, you can’t. I’ve seen your defense.)

The SEC is now down to four undefeated teams and this is the week we start to find out whether Mississippi State is for real. (And whether Derek Dooley will be Tennessee’s coach in 2013).

Let’s dive in to a Starting 11 that will hopefully make you laugh, but will certainly make you cry.

1. N.C. State ended Florida State’s national title run, and then this guy won the Internet.

Chris Farley lives!

2. Before the Georgia-South Carolina game a family gathered on the field for a message from their dad, who was serving overseas.

Watch this video.

It was the play of the weekend.

By the way, I think this mom has better speed than anyone starting in the Tennessee secondary.

3. From the play of the weekend, we jump right to the fail of the weekend.

And Auburn fans know exactly where I’m going.

Gene Chizik’s Auburn coaching career has turned into a tire fire burning inside a dumpster.

Everyone is choking to death on the Plains.

In the wake of John L. Smith, John L. Smith!, coming into Auburn and causing everyone to leave early, Gene Chizik is now 22-33 as a head coach without Cam Newton, 7-12 in the SEC.

Even with Cam Newton Chizik and Auburn nearly lost four or five games in 2010. I told you back in September that if Cam never arrives in Auburn — cough, bagman, cough — then Chizik has already been fired.

Now Chizik should probably be gone if Auburn wants to stop dueling with Kentucky for the title of worst team in the SEC.  

Maybe, just maybe, Chizik and company can find a way to split road games at Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. If the Tigers do that then 4-8 is likely. Otherwise it’s 3-9, 0-8 in the SEC, with three bought wins all that separates Auburn from a defeated season.

And how bad will the Iron Bowl be? 11-0 Alabama against 3-8 Auburn would be the biggest win differential in this game since 1950.

It’s time for Auburn fans to acknowledge what they’ve all feared since the moment he was hired — Chizik is not the answer.    

Who is?

I’d go after Bobby Petrino, Dana Holgorsen, and Derek Dooley. (Please.)

4. I have a coaching crush on Dana Holgorsen.

Before the season I told y’all that West Virginia would win the Big 12.

In the wake of West Virginia’s win on the road at Texas, it looks even more likely. Kansas State and Oklahoma both come to Morgantown. Win those games and the Mountaineers will win the Big 12.

With every game West Virginia plays, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Auburn fans fall a bit more in love with Holgorsen.

I know West Virginia signed Holgorsen to an extension in the offseason, but someone is going to offer him massive money to leave at the end of the season. And, remember, extensions don’t mean a damn thing in college sports.

5. Florida proved that LSU still doesn’t have an offense.

Remember last year when Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee were awful at quarterback but LSU still found a way to win? Yeah, last year LSU had the Honey Badger to make a big play on special teams and ignite the team. This year, not so much.

Instead, Will Muschamp served official notice that his tenure at Florida will be a success. This is the third time this season that Muschamp has won an SEC game as a Vegas underdog. If the season ended today Muschamp would have to be the SEC coach of the year.

Florida fans can breathe easy that they’ve got their man…again.

By and large the second year at the helm is when you find out whether or not a coach is going to get it done at his new job. 

Muschamp’s Gators aren’t just good this year, they’re in the middle of the national title race. 

Let’s also give some credit to strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman. The Gators have three second half rallies and have yet to allow a single point in the fourth quarter. That doesn’t happen by accident. This team worked its collective ass off to get in shape during the offseason. Props to Dillman.  

6. Georgia fans egged Aaron Murray’s house after the Bulldog loss to South Carolina.

Which would be a stupid thing to do anyway.

After all, it could be worse, Georgia fans, you could be starting Zach Mettenberger.

Murrary was far from the reason that his team lost to South Carolina. Blaming him is just incredibly stupid.

Worst of all, Murray found out Sunday, the same day that his house was egged, that his dad has thyroid cancer. This was news that the family may well have kept from him so he didn’t lose focus before the Tennessee and South Carolina games. Because according to the linked article the family has known of the diagnosis for a couple of weeks.

Murray is a stand-up guy. Thoughts and prayers from OKTC to he and his family.  

7. Mizzou fans are responding well to the Vandy loss. is up and running.

Click on the link, please.

Well played, Mizzou, well played.

8. The Big Ten doesn’t have a single team ranked in the coaches poll. (Ohio State isn’t eligible).

The SEC has seven ranked teams.

Again, I can barely even muster the energy to ridicule the Big Ten at this point.

The entire conference is beyond hope this year.

9. Having said that, if Ohio State was the only undefeated team in the country could a 12-0 Buckeyes team win the AP crown?

Ohio State will be favored in every remaining game.

The Buckeyes can’t play in the Big Ten title game or any bowl game.

But could the AP vote them number one if they’re the only undefeated team?

When you look at the rest of the schedules of the top teams, there’s a decent chance that every team loses this year. That’s because every undefeated team but Alabama will probably be an underdog in the final seven weeks of the season. (West Virginia could be favored in every game as well, but I’m not as confident about that).

Would the AP vote Ohio State number one if the Buckeyes were the lone unbeaten team?

That seems unlikely given the weakness of the Big Ten, but if the Buckeyes are the only undefeated team in the country, there could be some pressure to do that. (And by pressure I mean Urban Meyer arriving at the home of every AP voter and slowly strangling them to death until they submit).

10. Could Texas A&M and Texas play in the Cotton Bowl?

It’s starting to look like that’s a very real possibility.

Now that Texas is out of the national title race — and probably the Big 12 title race too — the Longhorns have a pretty good shot of finishing 9-3.

Meanwhile Texas A&M has a decent chance of finishing at least 9-3 as well. 

If A&M finishes second in the SEC West there’s a 100% chance the Aggies will get the Cotton Bowl bid. Even if the Aggies don’t finish second in the SEC West, there’s a good chance the Cotton Bowl would try and snag them anyway.  

So could this game happen if Texas is also in play?

It certainly could. 

Fingers crossed.  

11. Okay, it’s time for our SEC power rankings.

Remember, these rankings are based on games that have actually been played, not where I think a team should be ranked. (Even though I write this sentence every time I still get deluged with people who can’t understand that these rankings are based on games that have been actually played).

1. Alabama

2. South Carolina

2. Florida

4. Georgia

5. LSU

6. Mississippi State

7. Texas A&M

8. Tennessee

9. Ole Miss

10. Vanderbilt

11. Missouri

12. Arkansas

13. Auburn

14. Kentucky

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.


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