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SEC Football: Week 9 Contenders & Pretenders

Week 9 of SEC football is over with. C&P readily admits it whiffed on Georgia, but stipulates that a team that needs a sixth turnover to seal any victory is the definition of paper tiger, or bulldog in this case. Week 10 promises to be worthy of a day’s worth of coach surfing due to several games with national title implications on the docket.

1. Alabama (Last week: 1)  Mississippi State came in to Tuscaloosa believing they could win, complete with Twitter hashtag. They left Tuscaloosa flattened after a 38-7 beat down that, amazingly, wasn’t even as close as the score indicated. Alabama travels to Baton Rouge to play LSU for the third time in the past calendar year. The winner gets a trip to Atlanta as a prize. Next game: @LSU

2. LSU (Last week: 3)  LSU is coming off a bye this week and took the extra time to prepare for a visit from No. 1 Alabama. Les Miles is 36-1 in night games in Tiger Stadium. The game will decide the SEC West. If an inconsistent LSU team can play to its ceiling, the game down in Baton Rouge will be an instant classic. Next game: Alabama

3. Florida (Last week: 2)  Florida lost a tough game to a Georgia team that woke up for the first time all season by a final of 17-9. It took six turnovers for the Bulldogs to beat the Gators. The loss means that Florida needs some luck to make it to Atlanta for the SEC championship game. The Gators get a visit from Missouri this week to finish up their SEC schedule. Next game: Missouri

4. Texas A&M (Last week: 5)  While C&P is written, Texas A&M just scored another touchdown against Auburn. The Aggies thrashed the Tigers 63-21 on the Plains. A&M gets a Mississippi State team that just got walloped by Alabama. If Manziel can handle the cowbells, a visit to Tuscaloosa looms in two weeks. Next game: @Mississippi State

5. Georgia (Last week: 7)  Forcing six turnovers is always a good thing. Having to force the sixth to seal a victory is not generally a good recipe for continued success. Georgia gets some credit for knocking off Florida in an unorthodox way, but its weak schedule and inconsistency preclude any higher ranking. Hugh Freeze leads Ole Miss to Athens this weekend in what could be a trap game. Next game: Ole Miss

6. South Carolina (Last week: 4)  The Gamecocks snuck by Tennessee 38-35 at home. Jadaveon Clowney had to force a fumble to stop the Vols. The storyline won’t be the final score from this one, though, as South Carolina lost star tailback Marcus Lattimore is one of the most vicious injuries in recent football memory. With no Lattimore, questions now surround South Carolina. At least they get a bye this week. Next game: 11/10 Arkansas

7. Mississippi State (Last week: 6)  State finally found a team with a pulse to play when they went to Tuscaloosa. The first real road test in the season for Bully, and Bully wilted under a Crimson Tide avalanche. The Bulldogs have to put the 38-7 beating in their rearview mirror quickly with a visit from Texas A&M coming this weekend. The game will determine who is No. 3 in the SEC West. Next game: Texas A&M

8. Ole Miss (Last week: 9)  Ole Miss got a win on the road against Arkansas 30-27 via a last second field goal. The win puts Ole Miss squarely in contention for a bowl berth. The Rebels head to Athens to face a Georgia team coming off a huge win. If Ole Miss can start fast, they could steal one from Georgia this weekend. Next game: @Georgia

9. Tennessee (Last week: 8)  Derek Dooley can’t catch a break. The Vols play a really good game against South Carolina, but fall short 38-35. Falling short may have cost Dooley his job. The Volunteers host Troy, a team that gave Mississippi State everything it wanted earlier in the year, this weekend. Next game: Troy

10. Arkansas (Last week: 10)  Arkansas lost a crusher at home to Ole Miss 30-27. They don’t drop because there really isn’t a team below them that has impressed anymore than the Razorbacks. The season that began with national title hopes marches on with a visit from Tulsa this weekend. Next game: Tulsa

11. Missouri (Last week: 13)  The Tigers got their first SEC win with a 33-10 win over Kentucky. The win may be their only SEC win this year since Missouri gets to visit the Swamp this week. Next game: @Florida

12. Vanderbilt (Last week: 12)  Vanderbilt beat UMass 49-7. UMass is one of the few teams in the FBS that is worse than Auburn. In other words: nothing to see here. Move along. The creampuff parade continues as Vanderbilt travels to Kentucky this week. Next game: @Kentucky

13. Kentucky (Last week: 11)  Kentucky was blown out by Missouri to give the Tigers their only SEC so far. Kentucky will try to get an SEC win when it hosts Vanderbilt this week. If they miss this one, the Wildcats only have Tennessee left in conference to earn a conference win. Next game: Vanderbilt

14. Auburn (Last week: 14)  The freight train that tore through Jordan-Hare Stadium looked strangely like a true freshman quarterback in Johnny Manziel. Auburn set a bevy of “most given up” records thanks to their 63-21 loss to Texas A&M. Luckily, New Mexico State would lose to Auburn High School this year. Unluckily, barring a minor miracle on the order of Cam Newton regaining his eligibility, Auburn will not win an SEC game this year. Next game: New Mexico State

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