published Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

SEC questions asked and answered

Let's try something different this week. Let's ask and answer how each fan base feels heading into the last Saturday in October. Rankings remain in order of team quality to date.

1. Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC)

How do Alabama fans feel? Elite. Pass the Grey Poupon, for crying out loud. The Tide backers have reached a level of expectation where not only do they expect success, they expect domination. If Nick Saban is perfection's guardian, the Tide fan base is reaping the benefits. So yes, like their coach, the Tide fans feel rewarded and elite but not satisfied. Not yet, anyway.

Saturday: vs. Tennessee, 3:30 (CBS)

2. Missouri (7-0, 3-0)

How do Missouri fans feel? Downright joyous, and after last Saturday's impressive thumping of Florida, the feeling of joy has started to turn into the cautious optimism of "what if ..." scenarios that start with SEC title-game trips and peak at potential BCS title-game shots. And if you think Mizzou fans feel lucky, well, you're wrong. They are quick to email that there are only two teams in the country that have won every game this year by 15 or more points -- these Tigers and Oregon. Take that luck and slather it with a little Grey Poupon. Or French's, for that matter.

Saturday: vs. South Carolina, 7 (ESPN2)

3. Auburn (6-1, 3-1)

How do Auburn fans feel? Overjoyed that Saturdays are fun again. After last season's historically bad season that included a bagel-and-8 mark in the SEC, Auburn is among the three that still control their own destiny in the SEC. And considering Saturday's 45-41 win over Texas A&M was a 46-point turnaround from last year's 63-21 Aggies win, Auburn fans believe there's no question that first-year coach Gus Malzahn deserves to be in the national coach of the year discussion.

Saturday: vs. Florida Atlantic, 7:30 (SportSouth)

4. LSU (6-2, 3-2)

How do LSU fans feel? Puzzled, and not just by Les Miles' postgame rants and his consistently confusing Confucius-like sayings. LSU fans also have to feel a little fearful about how Zach Mettenberger will play in two weeks against Alabama, considering that last year's Bad Mettenberger reappeared against Ole Miss and the lone Good Mettenberger performance on the road was at Georgia, which is not going to be confused with the 1985 Chicago Bears any time soon.

Saturday: off

5. Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2)

How do Texas A&M fans feel? A little sad, to tell the truth. The Aggies are about to have two years of the best and most electric player in the country and there's going to be no team hardware on the shelf. To make matters worse, fellow expansion member Missouri is on track to make the title game in its second year in the SEC, as the Aggies are on track to finish fourth in the West. To make matters worse still, you have to believe that Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin is going to be atop the cadidate lists of several ADs this offseason with likely some big-boy jobs coming open. There is nothing sadder than wasted opportunity. Well, accept for Old Yeller. Seriously, if you did not cry at the end of "Old Yeller," well, you and Nick Saban can go watch more game video.

Saturday: vs. Vanderbilt, 12:21 (WDSI)

6. Ole Miss (4-3, 2-3)

How do Ole Miss fans feel? Happy to be on the upward ascent of the crazy roller coaster that is college football. Let's review the last few years for the Rebels: They get embroiled in a mascot controversy, including one that looked way too much like Jar-Jar Binks; they ride the misery tour that is Houston Nutt's indifferent stroll to broadcasting; they experience a renewed and record-setting run for Dan Mullen at Mississippi State; they land Hugh Freeze and make immediate strides, including a surprising bowl trip in 2012; Ole Miss becomes the story of signing day, landing three of the top-10 players in the class; a fast start to the 2013 season leads to huge dreams; a three-game skid with a thumping, a puzzler and a Johnny Football escape leads to wonder, which led to Saturday's monster upset over LSU. Hotty Toddy, indeed.

Saturday: vs. Idaho, 7:30 (CSS)

7. Georgia (4-3, 3-2)

How do Georgia fans feel? Mostly, they feel unlucky, but there's also some anger there, especially at soon-to-be-former defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. There's also a groundswell among a not-so-silent minority who are starting to wonder how much higher can the Mark Richt regime lead this program. It's a fair question, of course, but one that every Tennessee fan will shake his or her head and say, "Be careful what you wish for."

Saturday: off

8. Tennessee (4-3, 1-2)

How do Tennessee fans feel? Downright giddy. Be it Brick-by-Brick or 117 or whatever buzzword or catch phrase Butch Jones is spouting, the fact that he landed a hat-hanging win -- in October, no less -- gives him a credence in the locker room and among the fan base that has been gone from UT since 2007. Jones has the Vols on track for a bowl bid and has assembled one of the nation's top-five recruiting classes so far. Tennessee fans can start feeling a little bit like Tennessee fans did when Tennessee was Tennessee. (That made sense when I started typing it, promise.)

Saturday: at Alabama, 3:30 (CBS)

9. South Carolina (5-2, 3-2)

How do South Carolina fans feel? Scared. Look around the league and there are a lot of teams starting to trend upward, the way South Carolina was trending in recent years. Now look at this team, and a large part of its star power will be gone next year, including senior quarterback Connor Shaw and defensive man-child Jadeveon Clowney. Also, the 10-ton elephant question on the tongue of every Johnny Gamecocks Fan everywhere is how much longer will Steve Spurrier sign on for this?

Saturday: at Missouri, 7 (ESPN2)

10. Vanderbilt (4-3, 1-3)

How do Vanderbilt fans feel? Mixed malaise of melancholy and merriment. First, it's Vandy, so you know they are going to use a $200 phrase for their feelings. As for the feelings, well, Vandy is on track for its third consecutive bowl bid, which in some circles should be as impressive as Alabama being on track for its third consecutive national title. So that's cause for celebration. That said, the off-the-field scandal within the program and the all-but-certainty that this is coach James Franklin's last year in Nashville rains on the parade.

Saturday: at Texas A&M, 12:21 (WDSI)

11. Florida (4-3, 3-2)

How do Florida fans feel? Confused. Super confused. Is this stink-pants performance because of the injuries? Certainly that's possible, considering the Gators make the Georgia Bulldogs look healthy since Florida has lost its starting QB, tailback, best receiver, starting tackle, best defensive player and a reserve linebacker to season-ending injuries. Or is this stink-pants performance because of coaching? Will Muschamp went 7-6 in 2011 and 11-2 last year and is 4-3 this year, and considering these Gators are the worst offensive team in the league and have games against South Carolina, Georgia and FSU still on the schedule, there are still plenty of hurdles left. Is Coach Boom more Zook than Meyer, or is this poor luck that lands on every program from time to time? Confusing indeed, but what's not to be confused is that Florida never expects to spend bowl season picking between Memphis or Birmingham.

Saturday: Off

12. Mississippi State (3-3, 0-2)

How do Mississippi State fans feel? Hacked off. Hacked off that Dan Mullen can't pick a quarterback and ride. Hacked off that Hugh Freeze and the Colonel Johnny Rebels Black Bears Fans can't stop smiling and thanking the Lord. Hacked off that Cam Newton didn't come to Starkville. Hacked off that the real likelihood is the Bulldogs will have to rebuild, and rebuilding in the SEC West is just a touch easier than trying to rebuild a bomb shelter on the Gaza Strip. Stupid world.

Thursday: vs. Kentucky, 7:30 (ESPN)

13. Kentucky (1-5, 0-3)

How do Kentucky fans feel? All right, all things considered. The Wildcats fought tooth and claw at South Carolina. New coach Mark Stoops has assembled what could be the best recruiting class in UK history. And let's not forget hoops season starts in a few weeks, and you know who is preseason No. 1? Yep, the UK Cats.

Thursday: at Mississippi State, 7:30 (ESPN)

14. Arkansas (3-5, 0-4)

How do Arkansas fans feel? Terrible. Slap terrible. Since Bret Bielema's wife tweeted "#karma" to Wisconsin fans last month, Johnny Hogs Fans have learned that karma can be a cruel and immediate playmate. Arkansas scored first 10 days ago against South Carolina, but in the 115 minutes of game action since, the Razorbacks have been outscored 104-0. Heck, Arkansas is the only major college football program in the country that knows exactly what two weeks of being Oregon's scout team feels like. "#karma," indeed.

Saturday: Off

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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