Welcome to November in the SEC: Can anyone survive with only one loss?

Our Five Burning Questions for Saturday now that the CFP standings are out:

1) Will Ole Miss recover in time to play Auburn? After a gut-wrenching 10-7 loss at LSU  last Saturday night, Ole Miss (7-1, 4-1 SEC) was beaten up both physically and emotionally. But the Rebels got a lift Tuesday night when the CFP selection committee put them at No. 4 despite the loss. Auburn (6-1, 3-1), ranked No. 3, really looks to be rounding into form after a 42-35 victory against South Carolina. This is first Top Five matchup in the history of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The Alabama game on Oct. 4 was big for Ole Miss. This is bigger.

2) Will this be Will Muschamp’s last game against Georgia as Florida’s coach? All of us who cover Florida thought the Gators would be really good on defense and that the offense would improve significantly under new coordinator Kurt Roper and a healthy Jeff Driskel at QB. It hasn’t and now Florida is going to start a freshman at quarterback (Treon Harris) in Jacksonville against Georgia (6-1, 4-1).  I guess Florida (3-3, 2-3) could run the table and get to a bowl. But I don’t think that will happen. Will Muschamp is a good man and a good football coach. But I don’t think he’ll be back at Florida as coach.

3) Now that Mississippi State is officially No. 1., can the Bulldogs handle the pressure against Arkansas? Now that the CFP selection committee has named Mississippi State No. 1, the pressure gets turned up a little more each week.  The Bulldogs got all they could handle last week at Kentucky and needed to return an onside kick for a touchdown to win 45-31. Arkansas (4-4, 0-4) has lost 16 straight SEC games dating to 2012 but has gotten a little bit better each week. Ironically, Arkansas will need to throw the ball to have a chance. Mississippi State is giving up 321.6 yards passing per game.

4) Is Josh Dobbs going to be the man for Tennessee? Dobbs, the sophomore from Alpharetta, came off the bench last  week and was responsible for 267 of Tennessee’s 383 yards in a 34-20 loss to Alabama. The Vols trailed 27-0 in the game but fought back to make it respectable.  Senior Justin Worley started the first seven games for Tennessee (3-5, 0-4) and then suffered a shoulder injury against Ole Miss. He sat out the Alabama game. His status for Saturday’s game with South Carolina (4-4, 2-4) is unknown. But consider this: South Carolina had a lot of trouble last week with Auburn’s mobile quarterback, Nick Marshall. Dobbs could be the answer for the Vols in Columbia.

5) Can Missouri still win the SEC East? Yes it can. Obviously, if Georgia runs the table against Florida, Kentucky and Auburn, the Bulldogs will clinch a spot in Atlanta. But if Georgia loses a game down the stretch, Missouri (6-2, 3-1) can win the East by running the table against Kentucky (5-3, 2-3), Texas A&M (5-3, 2-3), Tennessee (3-5, 0-4) and Arkansas (4-4, 0-4). If you’re keeping score at home those four teams have a combined SEC record of  4-14. But first the Tigers have to take care of Kentucky, which took No. 1 Mississippi State to the limit last Saturday before losing 45-31. Wildcats quarterback Patrick Towles had his career-best game, throwing for 390 yards.

 


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