Written by Cole Locascio
I've decided to add a new feature to the site - a weekly (or whenever I receive enough questions) mailbag session. I'll pull responses from my Twitter followers, Fancred followers, and Facebook fans to provide insight for each week in the college football world.
The first question of the week comes from a Fancred follower, Patrick Schmidt (@PatrickASchmidt)...
What's the biggest surprise to you, offensively and defensively?
On the offensive side of the ball, I have to hand it to Nick Marshall's ability to run the ball. I mean, seriously, the guy caught his own pass to then follow that up with a spin move and 40-yard sprint down the sideline. It's Michael Vick-like... without the dog fighting, of course.
On defense, the Tiger's front-four has proven to be a pleasant surprise. The development of true-freshmen, Montravious Adams, Elijah Daniel, and Carl Lawson is nothing short of remarkable. Rodney Garner has come onto the Plains and done serious work in not only the development of our true-freshmen, but also with future NFL star, Dee Ford. To go into College Station and wreak havoc on the former Heisman winner shows an insane amount of growth and progress from the circus of last season.
A Facebook fan, Evan Katz, provided the next two questions...
In your opinion, what teams from the east will be headed to Atlanta for the SEC Title game?
This is where it gets a bit tricky. If you back up just two weeks, Missouri was in complete control of the SEC east, but after a heartbreaking, double-overtime loss to South Carolina, the Gamecocks are now in a confident postion to win the division title. Taking a look at Missouri's schedule to end the year, the Tigers have to play two games away, and one at home. After what should be a "sure win" against Kentucky this weekend, Mizzou receives a much needed bye week to prepare for Hugh Freeze and the Rebels. With only a one game lead, Missouri can't afford to look past any opponent at this point, but this is much easier said than done with a glaring matchup against Texas A&M to end the season.
South Carolina is in a much better position to win out the rest of their SEC schedule, considering they only have one game to go against a struggling Florida Gators team next week.
Believe it or not, but Georgia is still very much in the title game discussion. Unfortunately for the Dawgs, their path to the championship is much more extensive. This is not to say it's impossible, just highly unlikely. Let's just say that Georgia pulls off the upset against Auburn, Missouri loses to either Ole Miss or Texas A&M, and South Carolina beats Florida. For the SEC's sake and sanity, let's hope that this scenario flickers out, in order to avoid a three-way tiebreak for SEC Title birth. I won't get into the various rules and situations of a potential tiebreak situation, because honestly, I don't even understand every guideline that is entailed. What I do know, however, is the fact that a tiebreak situation relies heavily on the BCS standings after week 15, and whomever is ranked the highest, and out of range of five spots of the standings, will be your east divisional champion. Anything can happen in the SEC, and now at this point of the season, every play can change a team's postseason fate.
Ok seriously, it's been long enough, how much did Auburn pay Cam Newton?
My co-host from "No Huddle", Caleb Parikh, is looking towards the future of conference expansion with this next question...
Who will be the next two teams to join the SEC?
Whoa, slow down there, bud. It's going to take some time to get used to Missouri and Texas A&M, let alone two additional teams.
My mind is drawn to the ACC in this case, because of three factors: location, academics, and program prestige. The upper third of the ACC: Miami, Florida State, and Clemson, are all teams that fit into the skillset of the SEC. The problem is, Miami draws about a thousand people per game, which, as you guessed it, is nowhere near the caliber level the SEC's fans are known for reaching. Compare Neyland Stadium's constant sellouts of 100,000 to Miami's attendance of about a thousand, and there's sure to be a bit of a difference with that one. So at this point, that leaves two teams - Florida State and Clemson. With Clemson's recent success in the past few years, both programs would have the ability to play toe to toe with the majority of teams in the conference. A much needed balance would also be resolved, location wise, as well as success wise. The additions of FSU and Clemson would allow not one, but two BCS powerhouses to side with the east, while also moving Missouri to the west to finally sort the location aspect into a reasonable divide.
There is one big question mark that is unable to be overlooked - would South Carolina or Florida allow the move to be made? My thought process, unfortunately, says no. The Gamecocks and Gators love to flaunt the SEC selling point when visiting recruit's homes. The last thing they would ever want is for their in-state, arch-rival to have the ability to use the very same tagline to the very same high-school athletes. Because of this, don't expect any more programs to join the SEC in the near future.
If you wish to submit a question for next week's mailbag session, be sure to email me at AuburnIncorporated@gmail.com