1. Its only the third week of the season and we've already seen some highly ranked favorites drop out of national championship contention. Preseason favorite Cal dropped to #21 after a loss and a pair of underwhelming victories. Who's your pick as the next NC contender to take a fall?
Maize n Brew is right: the SEC beats itself up and necessarily allows others to fill in the gaps. Auburn, Florida, LSU, and Georgia are all contenders right now, but they can't all be contenders for long. Auburn knocked LSU down a few pegs this week, but they still have to play Florida and Georgia. Florida's no better off: they still have LSU, Auburn, and Georgia. Georgia plays the cream puff schedule, relatively speaking, of course, of the bunch, only meeting Florida and Auburn.
So who will fall out of NC contention first? Let's see . . . which game is first . . . okay, here's your winner, er, loser: either Florida or LSU, who play on October 7th. Perhaps Georgia, who plays Tennessee on the same day. There's a slight chance that Ohio State could fall to Iowa the week prior to 10/7, but it's fairly unlikely.
2. By that same token there are several schools hanging around without a loss that all of a sudden look like surprise contenders. There are also a few one loss teams with a legit shot at getting back into it. Looking at the rankings who's the team no one's talking about with the best shot at crashing the party ?
I'll go with the Bulldogs here. Of the SEC teams in contention, Georgia has the easiest schedule. Their remaining opponents: Colorado, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Florida, Kentucky, Auburn, Georgia Tech. Not exactly a cake walk, but it's easier than Florida's schedule, which includes all of the teams from the East and the two toughest teams from the West. LSU probably won't have a shot because Auburn is unlikely to lose two SEC games and give up its top spot in the West. If Georgia can beat Tennessee and Florida in the regular season and Auburn in the SEC Championship game, they should have a shot at the national championship.
3. Every team has their quicksand away game. You know. That place you should win but somehow find ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory or at least scare the &*%^ out of you every year. Did you know that over the last 21 years Kentucky wasn't won once in Knoxville? Where is your team's yearly sandtrap?
For the Vols, this year's sandtrap is against the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Hogs have spoiled things for us before, and Fayetteville is always a tough place for Tennessee. Depending on how the mid-season plays out, we may not even be favored to win this game, but even if we are, it still has landmine potential.
4. Now that you've looked into the darkest place in your football soul, free Escalades aside, turn and look into your crystal ball. Conference play is either just starting or a single game in. Based on what you've seen so far, give the order of finish in your conference, and if you've got a Conference Championship game tell us who the winner will be. Independents must predict the remainder of their schedule. The results your predictions will be held against you at the end of the season.
5. In keeping with the spirit of Maize n Brew, name your beverage of choice on game days and why. It need not be alcoholic, as there are some of us who choose not to imbibe on game day. Further, it need not be limited to a single brand/type/category. If you enjoy drinking PBR and Kraft Turkey Gravy at the same time (which I have personally witnessed), please, elaborate. Finally, if you should feel so inclined, and this is not a requirement, add an anecdote involving said beverage choice.
Why, Mountain Dew, of course. Some have forgotten that moonshine was, back in the day, sometimes euphemistically referred to as "mountain dew." In Knoxville, Tennessee, sometime during the 1940's, a lemon-lime whiskey mixer was invented and sold as "Mountain Dew." The flavor as we now know it was only perfected several years later, after a franchise was granted to Tri-Cities Beverage in Johnson City, Tennessee. Tri-Cities Beverage packaged the soft drink in green bottles with red and white labels depicting cartoon character Willy the Hillbilly "shooting at a revenuer fleeing an outhouse with a pig sitting in the corner."