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Barnhart's burning questions for Week 12

26 days ago
Tony Barnhart | SEC Network

Can Georgia recover from the loss at Auburn and keep its championship hopes alive?

Georgia's dream season has been temporarily sidetracked but it's not over - not by a long shot.

The Bulldogs, as the No. 1 team, didn't just lose at Auburn last Saturday. They were dominated 40-17 in one of the most complete games I've seen the Tigers play in a long, long time.

Still, Georgia's path to the College Football Playoff is clearly defined if not easily achieved: The No. 7 Bulldogs must beat Kentucky (7-3, 4-3 SEC) this Saturday in Athens and then win a nonconference game with in-state rival Georgia Tech on Nov. 25 in Atlanta. Then, if Georgia can beat either Alabama or Auburn in the SEC championship game on Dec. 2 in Atlanta, the Bulldogs will certainly make the CFP.

Kirby Smart, Georgia's second-year coach, shouldered the blame for a mistake-filled performance by the Bulldogs against Auburn.

"Between the penalties and the fact that they were more physical than us on both lines of scrimmage ... That's on me," Smart told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "We've got to get up and go get better."

It will be the last home game for Georgia stalwarts like running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. They will want to go out with a great memory.


Here are four more burning questions for Saturday:


Can Drew Lock make history?

The Missouri quarterback continues to be on fire with four more touchdown passes in a 50-17 win over Tennessee. On the season Lock now has 35 touchdown passes, which leads the nation. Only six quarterbacks in SEC history have thrown more than 35 touchdown passes in a season. Here is the list:

40-Andre' Woodson, Kentucky, 2007

39-Danny Wuerffel, Florida, 1996

37-Tim Couch, Kentucky, 1997 (36 in 1998)

37-Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M, 2013

36-Peyton Manning, Tennessee, 1997

36-Aaron Murray, Georgia, 2012

Lock's final two games are on the road against Vanderbilt and Arkansas. With six touchdown passes he'll break the SEC record. He'll get another chance if the Tigers win one more and qualify for a bowl game.


Will Tennessee look any different under interim coach Brady Hoke?

Butch Jones was dismissed as Tennessee's head coach last weekend and the reins of the program were turned over to Brady Hoke, who was Michigan's head coach from 2011-14.

In his Monday press conference Hoke said Tennessee's final two games with LSU and Vanderbilt, both in Knoxville, are about the seniors.

"As a staff we're going to coach our hearts out for the seniors," said Hoke, who was serving as Tennessee's defensive line coach.

The Volunteers (4-6, 0-6) have yet to win an SEC game this season and it's going to be tough this Saturday against No. 20 LSU (7-3, 4-2), which can still get to its goal of winning 10 games.

Hoke said he would be making some changes this week, which is why he closed practice to the media.


Should Florida be on upset alert against UAB?

It has, by any measure, been a season to forget at the University of Florida. The Gators (3-6, 3-5) have now lost five straight, including two straight under interim coach Randy Shannon. It has been the kind of season that just can't end soon enough.

But there is this: The seniors on this team have two games left, both at home. On Saturday the Gators face a UAB team (7-3) that is having a remarkable season. The Blazers football program was shut down at the end of 2014 and has been resurrected this season under Bill Clark. Two of their losses have been by three points or fewer.

Then next week Florida hosts Florida State. And nobody wants to end the season or a career by losing to the in-state rival.


What does Nick Starkel do against Ole Miss and its struggling defense?

Redshirt freshman quarterback Nick Starkel won the job at Texas A&M back in August but then suffered a broken ankle in the season's first game with UCLA. Enter a true freshman, Kellen Mond, who played pretty well until the Aggies got to tough back-to-back games with Mississippi State (Oct. 28) and Auburn (Nov. 4).

Starkel came in against Mississippi State when Mond was banged up. Mond started the following week against Auburn but struggled and was replaced by Starkel. Starkel then got the start last week against nonconference opponent New Mexico and responded with 416 yards passing and four touchdowns in the first half.

None of this is good news for Ole Miss (5-5, 2-4), which is dead last in the SEC in total defense (462.7 ypg).