The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

Barnhart's burning questions for Week 11

69 days ago
Tony Barnhart | SEC Network

Well, my friends, we made to December which is a good time to evaluate where we are.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey made it clear at all points during the season that the No. 1 goal for 2020 was to play as many of the 71 scheduled games as possible. To that end he told the member schools that they would have to be flexible and willing to make changes on very short notice. That is exactly what has happened.

Early Friday afternoon we learned that Saturday's scheduled game between Vanderbilt and Georgia in Athens had been postponed to Dec. 19 due to COVID concerns at Vanderbilt. If Georgia (6-2) were to make the SEC championship game, the game with Vanderbilt would be labeled as a no contest.

That leaves us with five games (Ole Miss and Mississippi State are idle) for Saturday. If we get those okayed, we'll be down to only 11 games remaining and two Saturdays (Dec. 12, Dec. 15) to play them. Right now every one of those games has a place on the schedule. No other conference can say that.

By the close of business on Saturday there is a very good chance that the Dec. 19 SEC championship game will be set.

So let's look at our Five Burning Questions for SEC football on Dec. 5:

 Is revenge really a factor as No. 1 Alabama goes to LSU?

There is no question that there were some hard feelings last season after LSU went into Tuscaloosa and beat the Crimson Tide 46-41. LSU went on to finish 15-0 and win the national championship.

Now when a team seldom loses, as has been the case with Alabama for over a decade, there aren't many revenge games to be played. In fact, Coach Nick Saban said this week the HE doesn't use revenge as a motivating factor-but that his players might (wink, wink.)

LSU (3-4) played Texas A&M tough last week but cannot match the offensive firepower of the Crimson Tide (8-0). This one might get wild.

With a win Alabama (8-0) clinches the SEC West and a spot in the conference championship game.

 Is this one of the best Florida offenses ever?

The Gators (7-1) will clinch the SEC East on Saturday if they can beat struggling Tennessee (2-5) at Neyland Stadium. It is also another opportunity to prove that this Florida offense can stack up with some of the greatest in the history of the school. Consider:

  • Florida is averaging 7.41 yards per play, which is on pace to beat the school record of 7.4 yards per play set by the 1995 team of Steve Spurrier.
  • Florida has beaten four consecutive SEC opponents by at least 20 points for the first since 2008, which was a national championship team.
  • Florida had a school record of nine straight games of over 35 points until it was snapped last week against Kentucky (a 34-10 win).

And remember this: All of these records will be set playing only SEC opponents. That's a first.

 Should No. 5 Texas A&M be on upset alert against Auburn?

The Aggies are 6-1 with the only loss being to No. 1 Alabama. They are No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings. There are some reasonable playoff scenarios involving the Aggies if they can get to 9-1.

But Saturday's trip to Auburn (5-3) looks like a dangerous game for Jimbo Fisher's team.

The Aggies struggled on offense last week in a 20-7 win over LSU. Auburn's defense got taken to the woodshed by Alabama last week but, quietly honestly, Alabama does that to everybody these days.

It will be Senior Day at Auburn. Keep a close eye on this one.

 Both South Carolina (3-6) and Kentucky (2-7) have struggled mightily this season. Which one will get to go home on a winning note?

Neither of these teams thought they would be in this position on the final Saturday of the regular season.

After going 4-8 last season South Carolina believed that 2020 was a bounce back year. Instead, the Gamecocks have lost five in a row and dismissed head coach Will Muschamp.

With a veteran offensive line coming back and its quarterback, Terry Wilson, returning from injury, Kentucky looked to finish in the top half of the SEC East. But it has been a difficult year on and off the field as Kentucky lost its popular offensive line coach John Schlarman, who died of cancer at the age of 45.

Here are two teams that are happy to get to the finish line.

 What will Saturday be like for Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom?

Odom, who has been given high praise for the improvement of the Arkansas defense, will be wresting with a lot of emotions on Saturday when the Hogs go to Missouri.

Odom played at Missouri, was an assistant there under Gary Pinkel, and was the Tigers' head coach from 2016 to 2019. He was dismissed with a 25-25 record but answered the call when new Arkansas coach Sam Pittman asked him to come to Fayetteville.

And now he goes back to Columbia, Mo., first the first time since he was fired.

Now Odom must come up with a scheme to defend a Missouri offense made up of guys-like quarterback Conor Bazelak he recruited to Missouri.

Missouri, under first-year coach Eli Drinkwitz, has won four of its last five games.