Anybody feeling a little hot … or not?
Yep, it’s that time again:
South Carolina: Raise your hand if you had the Gamecocks in the SEC championship game this season. I see a lot of hands raised in the Palmetto State and down around Steve Spurrier’s beach home at Crescent Beach, but that’s about it. Nobody’s calling South Carolina a great team. In fact, the Gamecocks have been maddeningly inconsistent this season at times. But they’re definitely a resilient team and talented enough to give Auburn a serious run for the Tigers’ money in Atlanta. You never count the Head Ball Coach out, either, in a big game. He’s always worth a few extra points, just having him on the sideline.
Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray: The Vols’ true freshman quarterback has made two career starts and has thrown eight touchdown passes in those two starts.
Tennessee’s competition: To be fair, Bray has faced the 117th-ranked pass defense (Memphis) and the 95th-ranked pass defense (Ole Miss) the past two weeks. He gets a Vanderbilt pass defense this week that’s tied for 95th nationally with Ole Miss.
Kentucky receiver Randall Cobb: Coming off a career-high 170 rushing yards last week in the win against Vanderbilt, Cobb now has more all-purpose yards this season (2,047) than anybody in major college football. The more you watch him, the better he gets.
Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley: The guy’s a great player, one of the best interior defensive linemen in the country, but he got away with way too many late hits on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray last week. A couple of them were borderline dirty.
Cam Newton’s throwing arm: His ability to run has made him one of the most unstoppable forces we’ve seen in the SEC in some time. But when you watch him make some of the throws he did last week in the win against Georgia (we’re talking NFL throws), all you can do is shake your head in amazement.
Florida’s offense: The Gators are 84th nationally in total offense after that masterpiece against South Carolina last week in a 36-14 loss. They mustered all of 67 total yards through three quarters and either didn’t or couldn’t make any adjustments as the game progressed. Not only are the Gators bad on offense, but they’ve shown no imagination.
Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett: In what was likely his final game at Razorback Stadium, Mallett went out in style by accounting for six touchdowns. Five of those were touchdown passes, which moved him to the top of the SEC with 24 touchdown passes this season.
Ole Miss quarterback Jeremiah Masoli: He already had a headache after taking a shot to the head and suffering a concussion a week earlier against Louisiana-Lafayette. But then Masoli came out against Tennessee and threw three interceptions, two of those returned for touchdowns, in an embarrassing 52-14 loss.
The Chicken Curse: I am hereby proclaiming the Chicken Curse as being officially dead, six feet under, tucked away eternally in some morgue, never to return. It was a dark, powerful force in the realm of South Carolina athletics for longer than anybody cares to remember in that state. We’re talking inexplicable losses, one mediocre season after another, coaches coming and going and generally more heartbreak than one fan base should have to endure. But with the baseball team winning the national championship in June and the football team going to its first SEC championship game in history, that dreaded curse has been purged forever. May it burn in you know where.