SEC East not ready to bow down to West just yetBy Alex H.
Preseason SEC talk centered on the idea that the twin assault of Alabama and LSU would run roughshod over the rest of the conference. Five weeks into the season, there has been a few hints that this might not be the case.
Whilst the Crimson Tide and Tigers both rock a 5-0 record, early season results have more than suggested that the SEC’s East division may have something to say by the time the dust has settled down south.
LSU Looking To Improve, Heads To The Swamp
This past weekend proved costly for LSU (5-0, 1-0 SEC). For the second straight week the Tigers fell one spot in the AP rankings, and currently reside at No. 4.
The fall came on the back of a less than endearing win over Towson (2-2) of the CAA, which saw the other Tigers outrun the Tigers from Louisiana. Added to a lackluster win over Auburn in Week 4, there are serious suggestions that LSU may have problems this season.
Those problems could be exacerbated with a trip to No. 10 Florida (4-0, 3-0 SEC) this weekend.
Florida is one of three teams in the SEC East making some noise. The Gators, alongside No. 5 Georgia and No. 6 South Carolina – who collide this weekend (see below) – have begun this campaign with an unbeaten record and are looking for some serious conference bragging rights. A win over LSU is just what the doctor ordered, not to mention enough to catapult up the polls.
Florida has already knocked off SEC competition in Texas A&M, Tennessee and Kentucky. Not one of these games looked overly difficult for the Gators either. On the back of an improved offensive line and a running game that’s averaging better than 200 yards per game, Florida has looked impressive.
Now the question is, can the Gators knock off LSU, a team that has beaten them two straight including a lopsided affair last season?
Oddsmakers have Florida as underdogs (+2 ½) heading into the game with the over/under at 44 ½. Odds that short are a victory in themselves when you considered Florida entered the season as 50/1 to take the National Championship compared to LSU at 6/1.
Who Is the Beast of the East?
If LSU struggles with Florida, things could get even worse down the line as the Gators may not be the best team in the SEC East.
Poll voters currently rank both Georgia (5-0, 3-0 SEC) and South Carolina (5-0, 3-0 SEC) above Florida. The two teams meet this weekend at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C.
The matchup could go a long way to determining who comes out of the East and challenges for the SEC title. Georgia – last season’s division representative in the championship game – will be looking to buck a two game losing streak to the Gamecocks. As fortune would have it, the Bulldogs have never lost three in a row to South Carolina, and that’s a history dating back some 110 years.
Georgia’s freshman running back tandem of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall has impressed on the road to 5-0 and will be looking to pile-on the yards this Saturday.
The Gamecocks will counter with QB duo Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson, both of whom have thrown for over 500 yards this season. Georgia’s previously outstanding defense had a few struggles against Tennessee last weekend, and similar this week would really pave the way for this pair of triggermen.
South Carolina enters the game as marginal favorites (-2), a result of homefield advantage, with the over/under at 57. Bragging rights will be awarded to the victor.
The East division will heat up again later this month. South Carolina visits Florida on Saturday, October 20, while Georgia meets Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday, October 27.
Whichever of the three comes out unscathed will stand a good chance of heading to the SEC championship game. Whether LSU is there is still to be seen. Before anybody gets too carried away though, it’s worth considering what a certain team from Tuscaloosa looks capable of doing.