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SEC Banter: Florida now the class of the SEC East
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Warning: Beware of Gators

Suddenly, Florida.

No, not the whack-job state itself, where more crazy stuff happens than any other state in the nation.

I mean the undefeated Florida Gators, suddenly surprise SEC East contenders under first-year head coach Jim McElwain.

The Florida Gators have a comeback win against Tennessee, and thumped third-ranked Ole Miss in perhaps the season’s most surprising game. With that, Florida is now on top of the SEC East.

What’s more, the remaining East teams on the Gators’ schedule: Missouri, Georgia, Vanderbilt and South Carolina – are a combined 3-7 in SEC play.

Not exactly a daunting task.

Sure, Florida heads to Baton Rouge in a few weeks, and it was announced recently that the October 17 contest against Louisiana State will kick off at night in Death Valley. But even if Florida drops one to LSU (far from guaranteed, see below), its chances of emerging as the East champion look pretty darn good right now.

I won’t say Florida’s chances look as good as a new Yukon Denali from Jim McElwain GMC – remember, I believe Florida’s head coach has one of the most car-dealer-sounding names ever – but if Banter had to pick a favorite right now, it would be Florida, mostly because:

GEORGIA’S EMBARRASSMENT AFFIRMS THE PROGRAM'S STATUS: And that status is good — far from great.

There simply is no excuse for failing to show up against Alabama, at home, with the Bulldogs surging and the Tide apparently receding.

Last Saturday’s Sanford Stadium rout emboldened the opinions of a growing number of Georgia faithful who say head coach Mark Richt needs to go.

Perhaps Georgia has achieved what it will achieve under Richt. The quandary for Bulldogs fans, however, is what to do about it.

Fire Richt? Then what? The ‘Fire Richt’ camp is duty bound to examine the sad state of affairs in Knoxville, Tennessee since the Vols showed Phil Fulmer the door.

But hey, at least I got some decent pictures while attending the embarrassment ‘tween the hedges:

LSU VS. SOUTH CAROLINA MOVING TO THE BAYOU: In the literal wake of historic flooding in South Carolina, Saturday’s matchup has been moved from Columbia, SC to Baton Rouge, LA. Officially it’s a Gamecocks home game, with South Carolina collecting game revenue, concessions, etc.

No word on whether the 90,000 LSU fans in attendance will be quiet while the Gamecocks are on offense, or if Tiger Stadium will blare that loud as heck cock-a-doodle-doo sound like they do in Columbia.

Kidding aside, expect the LSU community to welcome the Gamecocks with open arms and Louisiana hospitality. If any program is familiar with canceled/moved games, it’s LSU.

Reports from Baton Rouge have LSU’s band learning South Carolina’s fight song and alma mater for the game. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear South Carolina’s signature pregame song ‘Sandstorm’ blasted through Death Valley just before kickoff.

SPEAKING OF LSU: LSU is Not a Good Football Team Les Miles has a once-in-a-generation running back who grew up down river from Baton Rouge with dreams of playing for the Tigers. Without Leonard Fournette toting the rock and making defenders look silly, LSU probably would have lost to Syracuse and may have even lost to Eastern Michigan last week.

The Tigers rank 123rd out of 127 FBS teams in passing offense. How is this possible for an SEC team?

Only Air Force, Army, Navy and Georgia Southern rank lower – and all run the option offense. How LSU convinces highly-touted wide receivers to come to Baton Rouge is beyond me.

As of today, LSU is the top-ranked SEC team in both the coaches and AP polls. Expect LSU’s mirage of a team to disappear once it faces serious SEC defenses like Florida, Alabama and Ole Miss.

THE LATES POLLS: Six SEC teams are ranked in the top 25 of both polls. Alabama is the only team in the country with a loss to appear in the top 10 because, Alabama.

Texas A&M is No. 11 in the coaches poll and No. 9 in the AP, with one media member voting the Aggies No. 1 overall.

Makes sense.

Enjoy another October SEC Saturday in the heart of the college football season.

Ben Prevost writes SEC Banter for The Times. It appears on Thursday during college football season.

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