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Barnhart's burning questions for Week 8

420 days ago
Tony Barnhart | SEC Network

How long will the current streak continue?

Alabama versus Tennessee, also known as "The Third Saturday in October," is one of the SEC's most storied rivalries. It is also one that has been highlighted by streaks.

When No. 1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0 SEC) hosts Tennessee (3-3, 0-3) on Saturday, the Crimson Tide will be going for their 11th straight victory over the Volunteers. Not so coincidentally, this latest streak began in 2007 when Nick Saban became Alabama's head coach.

Here are some of the other notable streaks in the Alabama-UT rivalry:

• The longest streak in the series, and the one that Alabama has a chance to tie on Saturday, is 11, which the Crimson Tide posted from 1971-81. That streak coincides with the most successful run in Alabama history. In that 11-year run Alabama won 116 games, nine SEC championships and three national championships.

• Alabama had a seven-game winning streak that started in 1986, the final year that Ray Perkins served as coach. It continued through 1992, when Alabama beat Tennessee 17-10 in Knoxville on the way to the national championship.

• Tennessee had a seven-game winning streak that began in 1995 and ended after the 2001 game. Alabama would win in 2002, 34-14 in Knoxville.

• Alabama had another seven-game winning streak between 1905 and 1913. The two teams did not play in 1911 and 1912. 

Here are four other burning questions we have about the eighth Saturday of the season:

Can Auburn bounce back from a tough loss at LSU?

For a team with great expectations - like challenging for the SEC championship and earning a spot in the College Football Playoff - Auburn's 27-23 loss to LSU was about as tough as it gets. The Tigers, who had scored an average of 44 points in the previous three games, were held to only 64 total yards in the second half after taking an early 20-0 lead. Auburn converted only three of 14 third downs against the LSU defense.

But here is the reality as No. 21 Auburn (5-2, 3-1) heads to Arkansas (2-4, 0-3). The Tigers are still not out of it. If they can run the table they can still win the SEC West. While getting into the playoff with two losses (the other was to Clemson) will not be easy, crazier things have happened. In that scenario Auburn will probably have beaten Georgia twice and No. 1 Alabama.

Does Kentucky really control its fate in the SEC East?

Yes, you read that right. The Wildcats (5-1, 2-1) had last week off and return to action on Saturday at Mississippi State (4-2, 1-2). Should Kentucky, whose only loss is to Florida (28-27), run the table, the Wildcats would win the SEC East. Now that is easier said than done as Kentucky faces Mississippi State, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt in the next four weeks. But win them all and the Wildcats will go to Georgia on Nov. 18 and the SEC East could be on the line.

Last season Kentucky kicked a 51-yard field goal at the buzzer to beat Mississippi State.

Is going back to Ole Miss going to be a big deal to LSU coach Ed Orgeron?

Orgeron was the head coach at Ole Miss from 2005-2007. It did not go well as he was 10-25 overall and 3-21 in the SEC. He was fired.

"I made a lot of mistakes at Ole Miss," Orgeron told me when we met in his office this spring.

"I tried to run everything and I wouldn't let my coaches coach. I promised myself if I ever got another chance to be a head coach I would not make those same mistakes again."

Orgeron did get another chance, this time at LSU, and the Tigers are coming off two upset wins over Florida and Auburn. Now No. 24 LSU (5-2, 2-1), which bounced back from an upset loss to Troy on Sept. 30, controls its own fate in the SEC West as it goes to Ole Miss (3-3, 1-2).

The home team has won five straight games in the series.

Has any team ever needed a break from SEC action more than Missouri?

Since opening the season with a 72-43 win over Missouri State, it has been a very tough stretch for Missouri (1-5, 0-4). The Tigers have lost five straight. Four of those were SEC games in which they gave up 175 points (43.75 ppg). In the other game Missouri lost to improving Purdue 35-3. That's 210 points in the past five games.

For the first time in school history Missouri has given up 30 or more points in six consecutive games, according to a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In Barry Odom's first 18 games as head coach the Tigers have given up 30 or more points 12 times.

"It's going to take time," Odom said after a 53-28 loss at Georgia. "But that (fixing the defense) can absolutely be done."

The Tigers hope to regroup and catch their collective breath over the next two weeks with games against Idaho (2-4) at home and UConn (2-4).

After that Mizzou finishes with home games against Florida and Tennessee followed by road games at Vanderbilt and Arkansas.