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Florida at South Carolina, 12:30 p.m. ET
You could get your fill of college football this week without leaving the SEC – but you'd be missing out on some other big games across the nation (can Cal beat USC in Berkeley again?). And this always is a crazy weekend for my family, with Florida State visiting Clemson in Bowden Bowl VII.
One of the biggest games of the season in the offense-starved SEC could decide who wins the West. If LSU hands Alabama its first loss, the Tigers are all but locked into the SEC championship game. If Alabama can knock off the Tigers, the Tide (or Georgia) still have to beat Auburn.
Alabama's defense has allowed 19 points in the last five games and actually appears to be better than both Texas' and USC's. Still, with an offense ranking 74th in the country in scoring, the Tide just don't look like a team that can win the national championship.
But if you're looking for a Cinderella story, I wouldn't be surprised if Mike Shula rides into Bryant-Denny Stadium in a pumpkin on his way to the SEC ball.
Pick: Crimson Tide
A lot of people have been pointing to this game as the hump that USC has to overcome to go undefeated. Of course, California is last team to knock off the Trojans, doing so in Berkeley two years ago. Last year the Bears gave USC a run for its money before finally losing out.
That was then. This is now.
USC has only gotten better as time has gone on. Cal is in more of a rebuilding phase. Whereas in the last two Cal-USC contests the Bears were led by first-round draft pick Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback situation has not been quite as stable this year. Junior college transfer Joe Ayoob has had good moments but had bad moments, too.
Cal could challenge the USC defense with a great running game, and the Bears have the Pac-10's best passing efficiency defense. But USC seems to be in a real groove right now, putting teams away early and staying focused each and every Saturday. And the Trojan defense is starting to jell.
In a game near and dear to my heart, I cannot wait until Saturday night for the annual showdown between Auburn and Georgia. Auburn has to love that the game is in Athens because the Tigers seldom lose there.
Whether it's Pat Dye, me or Tommy Tuberville at the helm, Auburn seems to win at Georgia and lose to the 'Dawgs at home. In my five years as head coach the Tigers were 3-0 in Athens and 0-1-1 at home.
There are all kinds of SEC championship implications on the line. Auburn has to win to stay in the hunt for the SEC West title, and Georgia needs a win and a Florida loss earlier in the day to wrap up the East crown this week.
There's only one key to the outcome – D.J. Shockley. If he's 100 percent healthy, the Bulldogs will win. If they start him but he can't scramble and move around, Auburn will get the victory.
• Florida State:
Bobby Bowden Show
It's Bowden Bowl VII and I'm getting pretty tired of this whole family feud thing between my father (FSU coach Bobby Bowden) and brother (Clemson coach Tommy). As usual, both teams badly need a victory to have the kind of seasons they want, and that's just not going to happen. Somebody has to lose.
I don't know the over/under on how many times they'll show Mom in the stands with her half garnet and gold, half orange sweater. But let me tell you something: She is pulling for the old man.
I heard a reporter once ask her which team she wants to win in this game, and she replied that she's not in Tommy's will. Make no doubt about it – she wants the old man to get a few more wins before he hangs up the cleats.
Now that I think about it, I'm not in Tommy's will either, and I want the old man to win, too.
Florida State's problem is that it has been exposed as a young, inexperienced team that doesn't play very disciplined football. The fact that Clemson has a balanced offense makes me think they'll find way to win this game.
My brother told me an X-factor will be how mad the Seminole players are. After losing a second game of the season to an unranked team last week, the Seminoles could come in to Death Valley mad and hungry. That would throw the game in their favor. But I think Bobby Bowden's boys are a year away.
Gator Hotline with Urban Meyer
I can almost imagine Steve Spurrier practicing throwing his visor in preparation for this emotional game against his alma mater. As head coach of the Gators, Spurrier never lost to South Carolina.
Although Florida is happy to have Urban Meyer as head coach and Spurrier is happy to be at South Carolina, there is nothing – and I mean nothing – Spurrier would love more than to win this game. I guarantee he will pull out every stop in an effort to beat the Gators.
This also is the most critical game of the season for Meyer. If the Gators win and Georgia loses to Auburn (or next week to Kentucky), Meyer will have fulfilled every expectation of Gator Nation by getting to the SEC championship game.
On the other hand, if Florida's most famous football star (Spurrier) hands Meyer a third conference loss, this season would be considered nothing less than a huge disappointment.