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Barnhart's Five Burning Questions for Week 13

316 days ago
Tony Barnhart | SEC Network

The SEC championship game is set as No. 1 Georgia will play No. 3 Alabama on Dec. 4 in Atlanta. One or both teams in that game will be selected for the College Football Playoff.

So, you rightfully wonder, is there anything left to learn on Rivalry Weekend?

I'm glad you asked because the answer is most assuredly "Yes."

Here are our Five Burning Questions as we close out the month of November:

1. Is No. 1 Georgia ready to make some history against Georgia Tech?

Georgia began playing football in 1892 and in that time the Bulldogs have had only three undefeated regular seasons: 1946, 1980, and 1982. This team could be the fourth with a win at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Also, a Georgia victory would give the school its third team to reach 12-0. The 1980 team went 12-0 and won the national championship. The 1982 team went 12-0 and then lost to Penn State in the national championship game in the Sugar Bowl.

It has been a tough season for Georgia Tech (3-8), which lost to Notre Dame 55-0 last week.

Georgia has won its last 10 meetings against Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

The game has a Noon start and will probably be over by 3:30 p.m. Then it will be a quick ride back to Athens to start getting ready for Alabama.

2. What will be the vibe at Florida as the Gators play Florida State without head coach Dan Mullen?

Mullen was released from his duties on Sunday after a 24-23 loss to Missouri left the Gators at 5-6 on the season. Florida needs a win to become bowl eligible in what has been a very difficult season.

Assistant Greg Knox will serve as the interim head football coach. Quarterbacks coach Garrick McGee will call the plays.

Given the struggles of this season and the fact that it's Thanksgiving weekend, it will be interesting to see what kind of crowd there will be on Saturday and Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

3. Alabama has lost in three of its last four visits to Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium. Does that mean that Saturday's Iron Bowl will be closer than the experts think?

I don't believe so. Not if Alabama quarterback Bryce Young remains on fire.

Last week Young set a school record by throwing for 559 yards in a 42-35 win over Arkansas. With that performance Young joins Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud as the two leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy.

Earlier this season Auburn was 6-2 with back-to-back wins over Arkansas and Ole Miss. But now the Tigers have lost three straight games under first-year coach Bryan Harsin. They also lost starting quarterback Bo Nix to a broken foot.

Keep these two tidbits in mind:

Alabama (10-1) has a date with Georgia for the SEC championship next week. If Alabama beats Auburn and Georgia, the Crimson Tide will be in the College Football Playoff.

Alabama not only needs to beat Auburn, but the Crimson Tide needs to do it impressively. Should Alabama lose a close game to Georgia, the Tide will make the case that they should be in, even with two losses. That case will be easier to make if Alabama wins impressively against Auburn.

4. Do the LSU players send coach Ed Orgeron off with a win over Texas A&M?

Orgeron was relieved of his duties back in mid-October but decided to remain at the school and coach for the rest of the 2021 season. That season comes to an end Saturday night in Baton Rouge when the Tigers host Texas A&M (8-3).

Orgeron grew up in Louisiana dreaming of someday being the head coach at LSU. That dream came true and he won a national championship in 2019.

He told reporters this week that he wouldn't think about his last game at LSU until it was over.

"I don't think it's going to hit me until the end," Orgeron said.

5. Does South Carolina have one more upset left in them?

The Gamecocks (6-5) qualified for a bowl last week with a 21-17 upset of Auburn at Williams-Brice Stadium. Two weeks before that South Carolina stunned Florida 40-17, again at Williams-Brice.

Saturday night the Gamecocks will host state-rival Clemson (8-3), which has beaten South Carolina six straight times. Before that, South Carolina had beaten Clemson five straight times under Coach Steve Spurrier.

It will be a tall order for South Carolina because Clemson, after struggling early, is starting to round into form. Last week the Tigers beat No. 10 Wake Forest 48-27 in Death Valley.