Let’s see what’s on your mind in this week’s SEC mailbag:
Caleb in Hot Springs, Ark., writes: Chris, I enjoy reading your articles and analysis. I may not always agree, but they are good reads. Anyway, I wanted to know what you think would be the best case scenario for the Razorbacks to make it to the SEC championship game, and if they did and won, do you think they would make it to the BCS National Championship Game. I know the odds for the right things to occur are pretty low, but not entirely impossible. Keep up the great work!
Chris Low: The first thing that needs to happen for Arkansas is Alabama losing at least one game to a Western Division team and would then need a three-way tie. Alabama would win a two-team tie with Arkansas based on the head-to-head tiebreaker. It’s difficult at this point to see the Crimson Tide losing two SEC games, but they still have some tough games. After the Florida game this weekend, they still have to play at South Carolina and at LSU with Auburn coming to Tuscaloosa. The Hogs would have to win out, including winning the SEC championship game, to make it to the BCS National Championship Game. I do believe that any one-loss SEC champion, though, would have an excellent chance to finish in one of those top two spots in the final BCS standings. Probably a more realistic possibility for the Hogs is to win 10 or 11 games and grab an at-large spot in one of the BCS bowls.
Brett in Gulf Breeze, Fla., writes: Florida's kicker, Caleb Sturgis, will not play against Alabama due to a stress fracture. He could be out up to eight weeks. Punter Chas Henry will take over for field goals. Could be a big deal tomorrow night if the game is close.
Chris Low: Agreed. It could be a huge deal, not only in this game, but as Florida goes through the rest of this season. Something tells me the Gators will be in several close games, and a field goal could be the difference. One of the factors lost in Sturgis being out is that the Gators also have to find a new holder. Henry was the regular holder, but he’s going to be doing the place-kicking now. A mishandled snap could prove as costly as a missed field goal.
Brennan in New York City writes: Hi Chris. I'd like to introduce a 2008 Big 12 South scenario into the SEC. In the event that Alabama, Arkansas and Auburn all finish with one conference loss (Bama over Arkansas, Arkansas over Auburn, and Auburn over Bama), which school would represent the SEC West in Atlanta and how would that team be chosen?
Chris Low: The final tiebreaker would apply, which would be the team with the highest ranking in the BCS standings following the final weekend of regular-season games. However, if the second of the tied teams is ranked within five spots of the highest ranked team in the BCS standings, the head-to-head results of the top two ranked teams would then determine the divisional representative in the SEC championship game. So in your scenario, let’s say Arkansas is sitting there at No. 3 in the BCS standings at the end of the regular season after winning out and Alabama is No. 5 and Auburn No. 6. Alabama would still go to Atlanta because the Crimson Tide were within five spots of the Hogs and beat them in the regular season. But if Auburn jumped to No. 3 after beating Alabama with Arkansas No. 5 and Alabama No. 6, the Hogs would get the nod based on their head-to-head win over the Tigers and being within five spots of them in the BCS standings. We’ve got a long way to go before we get to that point, but it makes for compelling conversation. Remember, though, it’s only the second tied team that comes into play. For instance, if Auburn were to beat Alabama but still wind up as the third team behind Alabama and Arkansas in the BCS standings, the Tigers would not get the nod based on head-to-head results.
Kenny in Hoover, Ala., writes: I heard you say that Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson were the best two running backs on one team in SEC history. Did you forget about a couple of guys named Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown at Auburn?
Chris Low: No, I didn’t. I also didn’t forget about Darren McFadden and Felix Jones at Arkansas, either. When it’s all said and done, I think history will prove me right. McFadden and Jones combined to form a fantastic tandem for the Hogs and rushed for nearly 3,000 yards between them in 2007. To me, they are the standard when you start talking about the premier running back combos in this league, and Williams and Brown aren’t too far behind. The reason I say Ingram and Richardson are the best is because they’re both so difficult to tackle, and yet, both have the speed to break big plays. It’s like Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. They pound you and pound you, and then they hit you with a long one.
Will in Metairie, La., writes: What are your thoughts on LSU trying to use Patrick Peterson on offense? I don't like it. I'd rather have him fresh in the fourth quarter when he's covering Julio Jones and Greg Childs.
Chris Low: The one thing that would concern me is all the problems he's had with cramps. Patrick told me earlier this season that it’s been an issue for him since Pee Wee football. Clearly, the Tigers will have to pick their spots with him on offense, and I think they will. You’re not going to see him on the field for 12 or 15 offensive snaps a game. But if they can get him three to five touches a game, I say go for it. I honestly haven’t seen anybody more explosive in college football this season. Pitch it to him. Hand it off to him. Throw him a screen. Anything that gives him another chance to score can only help the Tigers, who’re screaming for help right now on offense. There’s a reason Patterson is averaging 28.8 yards every time he touches the football this season.
Justin in Kansas City, Mo., writes: Chris, why does it seem that Cam Newton is getting so little recognition in the Heisman race? He is obviously the most dangerous player in the SEC right now and is basically winning every week by himself. I thought the Heisman was given to the most talented college football player of the year, not the most media hyped.
Chris Low: Honestly, the Heisman Trophy means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It’s supposed to go to the most outstanding player each year in college football. I’m a voter and always place extra weight on how a player does in big games, how he impacts his team and how he performs in clutch situations. Statistics are very important. But just as important to me is whether or not that player elevates the level of play of the people around him. That said, I feel like Newton has been the MVP of the SEC to this point. If he keeps it up and Auburn keeps winning, I feel certain that he will be right in the middle of the Heisman race. He was sort of under the radar when the season began, being a first-year starter at Auburn, so that might be holding him back some nationally. Mark Ingram was the same way last year and really didn’t become a mainstay in the Heisman race until the seventh week of the season when he rushed for 246 yards in the win over South Carolina. Newton’s going to have several more chances on big stages this season. From what I’ve seen of him so far, he's going to be in the Heisman conversation and deserves to be.