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Thought: SEC East. The Division No One Wants

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 17, 2011


Sallee: The problems with the disastrous year in the SEC East

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- Cirminiello: How Good Is Sammy Watkins
- Mitchell: South Carolina's Really Bad Week
- Harrison: Do Ohio State Fans Want Fickell? 
- Sallee: SEC East. The Division No One Wants
- Johnson: Just How Good Is Washington?
- Zemek: The Rule Book Problem With Fumbles

By Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee

Last year, South Carolina backed into its first SEC East championship with three conference losses. With Derek Dooley still building things at Tennessee, new faces in Florida and a “dream team” at Georgia, the division was supposed to be improved this season.

It’s not. As a matter of fact, it may be worse this year than it was last year.

Yes, South Carolina is 6-1, but the Gamecocks have benched starting quarterback Stephen Garcia in favor of Connor Shaw, a sophomore that clearly hadn't earned the confidence of the coaching staff until there was no other option. Garcia subsequently was given the boot after six strikes. Through all of that, South Carolina continued to win games because, when things go bad, all the Gamecocks had to do was turn it around and hand it to All-American running back Marcus Lattimore.

Now that Lattimore is out, South Carolina can’t be viewed as division favorite. The Gamecocks have three SEC games left: at Tennessee, at Arkansas and at home against Florida. Even with Lattimore, South Carolina is a few steps behind Arkansas. Without him, the other two games are toss ups at best. The Gamecocks are a middle-of-the-road team without Lattimore in the lineup.

Florida can be officially eliminated from contention if the Gators fall to Georgia in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Granted, that’s a lot to ask, since Georgia cowers into a corner any time it sees the Florida helmet in real life. With three conference losses already on the record, and an offense that is still searching for answers, Florida is going to have to get right in a hurry to make it to Atlanta. Even then, the Gators don’t control their own destiny.

Tennessee sans quarterback Tyler Bray, wide receiver Justin Hunter and a functional running game is essentially a non-factor at this point. The same can be said for Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

That leaves only Georgia as a legitimate contender to prevent South Carolina from backing into the Georgia Dome for the second straight season. With only one conference loss - to South Carolina - on the resume, the Bulldogs have a decent shot at making it happen. They haven’t beaten any team with a winning record other than Coastal Carolina, and they still “need more dogs.” On top of that, many-a-season in Athens have made a turn south after Georgia’s traditional meltdown in Jacksonville to the Gators. But even if Georgia falls to Florida - again - it’s looking more and more like the Bulldogs will be the the SEC East’s crash test dummy to either LSU or Alabama in early December.

The SEC East is shaping up to be very intriguing down the stretch, even if it is in the exact opposite fashion of the SEC West.

- Cirminiello: How Good Is Sammy Watkins
- Mitchell: South Carolina's Really Bad Week
- Harrison: Do Ohio State Fans Want Fickell? 
- Sallee: SEC East. The Division No One Wants
- Johnson: Just How Good Is Washington?
- Zemek: The Rule Book Problem With Fumbles