We're almost there. The specter of all the out-of-conference games is almost done with - next week begins October, and with October the beginning of conference play in earnest. LSU-Mississippi State was fun, sure, and Georgia-South Carolina was entertaining (our game ...well, we're probably still not qualified to talk evenly about it. Ugh.). Still, it's not conference play, you know?
Fortunately, that changes this week. No, I'm not talking about Alabama-Arkansas. I'm talking about LSU-West Virginia ...wait, what's that? ..fine. Okay, I'm talking about Alabama-Arkansas. I'm sure not talking about the games involving Kentucky or Mississippi. If there was ever an argument for relegation in the SEC, this year has two prime candidates. I know that I hate on these teams constantly, but ...well, it's with reason. They're not very good.
Look, I know that Auburn plays erstwhile SEC September member Florida Atlantic, and the last time I completely glossed over a bad opponent, the Utah State game happened, so ..you know what? I'll gloss them over. I have a bit more respect for Louisiana Tech, but that's because I'm not sure how good Houston is. I also think they'll be a fun matchup for Mississippi State, who's looking to show they're alive after having all their life signs systematically beaten out of them in front of a national audience last week.
That leaves ...um. Conference games, as it were. And lordy, there are going to be some massacres. At least Mississippi and Kentucky are at home, and although I have my doubts about the long-term (and short-term) viability of Georgia, they're not going to get Nutted, are they? I can't really fathom that this train wreck of an impending mutiny that is this year's Rebels franchise, but, well, at least we might see Mike Leach in the SEC West raising terror at the end of this. That's worth it, at least from the disinterested fairly neutral observer looking to see the SEC West turn into a series of landmines perspective. It's not just me, either.
The real question here is whether there's anything that can remedy the feeling you have in your stomach right now.
That's bad. And yet, at least they care about football. A Sea of Blue's front page is once again basketball and non-Kentucky football, but at least there are realignment posts. (And yes, it's come to that, and no, I don't blame them in the slightest.) Along that lines, I have an embarrassing confession to make: I watched part of Kentucky-Louisville last week. It was awful, and I loved it.
Below the jump: games that matter!
South Carolina v. Vanderbilt
Yes, this game matters (and it's down here in part as a salve to VolnVA, the poor kid who has to suffer being a Vanderbilt fan too), and yes, that's so friggin' weird to type. Still, this game means a lot more to the 'Dores than it does for South Carolina, who still need to get their act together something fierce. I still kind of trust South Carolina for now, if only because the raw material there has to equal the sum of their parts at some point, right? Right? It better happen soon; Auburn's in town next week.
West Virginia v. LSU
Let's be honest; the main attraction of this game is in fan interactions. (Also, I'd like to shake the hand of whoever thought to put this game on at 8 PM. If you've never seen a stadium sweat from booze, this will be your night.) I like the Holgo vs. Chavis matchup, but I'd like it a lot more in November - or next season. Right now, this is just too soon for West Virginia, too much speed, too much raw strength. This may be Mississippi State v. LSU all over again.
Alabama v. Arkansas
Well, this ought to be fun. Neither team is really firing on all cylinders yet, but they're probably just one short of max. Alabama's defense does look to be what we expected, but ...Nick, your ball movement. Where is it? Trent Richardson can only do so much, you know? Our lack of a run game is frustrating, but it's different, somehow. If we don't have a run game, it gets frustrating watching our games, but a SEC title or national championship doesn't hang in the balance this year. If Alabama can't develop a passing game to take some of the load off their running game (again, not all, but some), they don't get rings. On second thought, maybe it's not the worst thing in the world.
Incidentally, Arkansas is a lot like a better version of us right now. They'll look like our schematic cousins on Saturday, so it'd be nice to see them pull the upset. Unfortunately, I don't think it'll go that way; if Alabama gets up 10, this game will get constricted fast.