Sometimes a millimeter can make the difference between winning and losing. Just ask Georgia.
But a lot of us were guilty of writing off the Bulldogs when they came out on the wrong side of that fourth-down measurement Sept. 13 in their 38-35 loss to South Carolina.
All they've done since is reel off five straight wins, the last two on the road with Todd Gurley, the best player in the country, watching from home while suspended.
And while we're all mesmerized with how stout the West has been, the dirty little secret as we enter the final week of October is that Georgia has the most manageable path of any of the SEC teams to the College Football Playoff.
Notice I didn't say the easiest path, because there is no such thing in this league.
But there's also a reason ESPN's Football Power Index projections give Georgia a 43 percent chance of winning the SEC championship. The next closest team is Ole Miss at 26 percent followed by Mississippi State (17 percent), Alabama (8 percent) and Auburn (4 percent).
Think about it, especially if Gurley returns for the November stretch. The Dawgs would essentially have two games against ranked teams standing in their way -- at home against Auburn on Nov. 15 and then possibly the SEC championship game Dec. 6.
Now compare that against the grind the four West teams face.
Auburn still has to play at Ole Miss on Nov. 1, at Georgia on Nov. 15, at Alabama on Nov. 29 and then potentially the SEC championship game. Clearly, the Tigers have the toughest path.
The other three don't have cakewalks, either.
After playing Saturday at Tennessee, Alabama still has to play at LSU on Nov. 8 and then faces Mississippi State at home on Nov. 15, Auburn at home on Nov. 29 and then the SEC championship game if they get by.
Ole Miss travels to LSU on Saturday and then returns home to face Auburn on Nov. 1, travels to Arkansas on Nov. 22, comes back home to play Mississippi State on Nov. 29 and would then have the SEC championship game.
Mississippi State, which plays Saturday at Kentucky, probably has the second toughest road behind Auburn. The Bulldogs have to play at Alabama on Nov. 15 and at Ole Miss on Nov. 29 before perhaps ending with the SEC championship game.
The bottom line: Georgia's hitting its stride at the right time, getting its players back and getting a lot better on defense.
Mark Richt and his staff have done a terrific job keeping this team pointed in the right direction despite the early struggles on defense and the suspension of Gurley.
In the end, the Dawgs just might have their day.
Stroll down memory Lane
Tennessee fans still haven't forgiven Lane Kiffin for leaving them high and dry for USC after only one season in Knoxville, but what they really ought to be mad at him about is his role in what's been an abysmal stretch of quarterback play for the Vols.
Kiffin returns Saturday to Neyland Stadium as Alabama's offensive coordinator and does so with Tennessee senior quarterback Justin Worley struggling just to stay in one piece. Worley has already been sacked 29 times this season and is currently nursing a shoulder injury that's kept him out of practice all week. If he can't go Saturday, Nathan Peterman and Joshua Dobbs could split time under center.
In fact, longtime Tennessee follower Brent Hubbs of Volquest.com dug up a stat this week that's staggering. In their last 35 SEC games, the Vols have thrown 42 touchdown passes and 57 interceptions while starting five quarterbacks.
With those kind of numbers, is it really a surprise that Tennessee is 7-28 in SEC play over that stretch?
As a comparison, Alabama has thrown 66 touchdown passes and just 14 interceptions during its last 35 SEC games. The Tide started three quarterbacks during that span, including AJ McCarron for all but nine of those games.
So yes, you better be good up front. You need to protect the quarterback on offense and pressure the quarterback on defense. But more than ever, you also better be darn good at quarterback, not to mention experienced, efficient and healthy.
What's all this have to do with Kiffin?
Upon taking the Tennessee job, he sent word to a couple of quarterbacks the Vols had committed under the previous regime that they needed to look elsewhere -- and they did.
This is the best Ole Miss defense since ...
The measuring stick in Oxford, at least over the past 55 years, would be the 1962 defense, which was the backbone of the Rebels' 10-0 national championship team. That unit allowed just 19 points in six SEC contests.
This year's defense has given up just six touchdowns in its first seven games, while scoring four of its own off takeaways. And one of the six it gave up came on the last play of the game against Texas A&M with the Rebels leading 35-14. Ole Miss leads the country in scoring defense, allowing an average of 10.6 points per game.
Even more telling, Ole Miss' plus-19.4 defensive efficiency is on pace to be the best for any team in the past 10 seasons. Team efficiency is the point contributions of each unit to the team's schedule-adjusted scoring margin, on a per-game basis. According to ESPN's Stats ∓ Info, the Rebels have forced at least two turnovers in six of their seven games this season, tied for the most in FBS.
It's no coincidence Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is slowing the tempo on offense. Smart coaches aren't so programmed into playing a certain way they can't adjust. Freeze is playing more to his defense right now.
And with that defense, why wouldn't he?