Last Monday, we asked if the Vols were the worst team in the SEC. This Monday, allow us to point out how the Vols can still win the SEC East.
What changed while we were off? Nothing really...just another Saturday of Russian roulette, with Florida biting the bullet for the third straight week, and South Carolina doing the receiving instead of the giving. With all six teams in the East now through the halfway point of their season, the Gamecocks still lead the division...at 2-2. Second place? Vanderbilt.
Every other SEC East team has three conference losses.
Of course, let's point out that no one here really thinks Tennessee is going to win the SEC East, or start that process by winning on Saturday. It's just interesting to note that as poorly as things have gone for the Vols, it's such a crazy year that even at 2-4 and 0-3 in the SEC, we'd need very little help if we started winning. (For the curious and the insane, if Tennessee won out, they'd need only the winner of Florida vs. Georgia to lose one additional SEC game, and the Vols would be in Atlanta.)
This year, the phrase "if Tennessee won out" should probably be treated the way the phrase "if Vanderbilt won out" is treated every year. But if you're Derek Dooley, don't you think you might at least mention the idea to your players this week? I mean...why not?
Back in the real world, someone does have to win this thing. So let's throw some darts:
Despite their loss, South Carolina remains the frontrunner, and is one of two teams not named Vanderbilt who control their own destiny. The Gamecocks have Vandy and Tennessee the next two weeks, before their fate will likely be decided, as usual, in November: Arkansas at home, Florida on the road.
Florida also still controls its own destiny even at 2-3, because all three losses have come against SEC West foes. The Gators get a week to heal (and either fire Steve Addazio or put him in witsec), then have the Cocktail Party, Vandy in Nashville, and Carolina in The Swamp. They have the most favorable remaining schedule by far.
Georgia will need some help to put their early season train wreck behind them, mostly because they have a head-to-head loss to South Carolina. The Dawgs also have one of the nation's most difficult schedules on the whole, and it's getting no easier: at Kentucky, Florida in Jacksonville, and at Auburn. Running that table, and getting South Carolina to lose twice more? Not likely.
And then there's Kentucky. The Cats would need Florida to lose one game, but if they beat Georgia in Lexington on Saturday, they're a legitimate threat. Their remaining SEC games after that: at Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, at Tennessee. Don't count them out.
Vandy and the Vols haven't shown anything on the field to suggest they can compete for this thing...but it remains true that right now, at the halfway point of the season, all six teams are still very much in the race.