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    • "Inside the SEC" with Tony Barnhart

      For the fourth consecutive year, the No. 1 team in the nation will play in the SEC championship game. And if LSU beats No. 14 Georgia, for the sixth consecutive year the SEC will have a team in the BCS championship game. And there could be more than one SEC team in the BCS championship game.
    • "Inside the SEC" with Tony Barnhart

      What kind of odds could you have gotten this summer that at Thanksgiving the top three teams in the BCS Standings would be: 1) LSU, 2) Alabama, and 3) Arkansas? Here we are at the final Saturday of November and all three are capable of winning the SEC championship and all three could win the national championship. Wow!
    • "Inside the SEC" with Tony Barnhart

      The Game of the Century is behind us but there is much, much more left to this season. Just to prove that point, here are our Five Burning Questions about SEC football for Saturday, Nov. 12.
    • "Inside the SEC" with Tony Barnhart

      Yes, we have finally arrived at The Game of the Century between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama. But that’s not the only compelling story line in the SEC as play begins in November.
    • "Inside the SEC" with Tony Barnhart

      Tony Barnhart examines our five burning questions about SEC football as we finish up the month of October and set the table for next week’s Game of the Century.

    "Inside the SEC" with Tony Barnhart

    If every Saturday is going to be like last Saturday in the SEC, we’re all going to need some oxygen - lots and lots of oxygen.

    You would be hard pressed to find two better games with more twists and turns than Auburn’s 41-34 win over Mississippi State and South Carolina’s 45-42 victory Between the Hedges at Georgia.

    Do we have that kind of drama in this week’s schedule? I think the answer is yes and so here we go with this week’s five burning questions about SEC football:

    1. Can Mississippi State bounce back? I did some asking around and I couldn’t find a team that had ever run 97 plays in a game—and lost. That’s what happened to Mississippi State last Saturday when Auburn made its goal line stand on the last play of the game to win. It’s always difficult to do a five-day turnaround and play on Thursday. But it is especially difficult when you’re coming off a gut-wrenching loss and the next opponent is LSU. I know it’s early but LSU has one of the better collections of athletes on defense that I’ve seen in quite a while. Any team that can replace Patrick Peterson, the best cover corner in a college football last season, with sophomore Tyrann Mathieu has something going for them.

    2. Can Tyler Bray continue this pace against SEC defenses? Right now we are seeing Tennessee’s sophomore quarterback grow up before our very eyes. Last week against Cincinnati, a game some folks thought Tennessee would love, he became only the second quarterback (along with Peyton Manning) in Tennessee history to pass for over 400 yards in a game. In two games this season the California native has 698 yards and seven touchdowns. In five of his seven starts as a college quarterback, Bray has thrown for over 300 yards. But this week big boy football begins for Bray. Look for Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to dial up some pressure hoping to make the young quarterback uncomfortable in The Swamp. There has never been any doubt about Tyler Bray’s talent. But until you do it against a quality SEC defense, you haven’t done it. Bray’s 300-yard passing games have come against Memphis, Ole Miss, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Cincinnati. Four of those five defenses were ranked 45 or higher at the time of the game.

    3.  Can Auburn find another way to win, this time on the road? Coaches will tell you than winning is a habit. Teams who are used to winning and expect to win  can find ways to overcome adversity. And in the first two weeks of the season, very few teams have overcome more adversity than Auburn. Two weeks ago Utah State ran 84 offensive plays and led by 10 points in the final three minutes. But Auburn scored a touchdown, got an onsides kick, and scored another touchdown to win 42-38. As I mentioned earlier, Mississippi State ran 97 plays against Auburn. But on the 97th and final play of the game, Auburn’s Ryan Smith made a tackle that he will remember for the rest of his life, stopping Chris Relf inside the one-yard line. Auburn has pulled off two miracle finishes at home. Now we find out if Gene Chizik and the boys can do it on the road at Clemson’s Death Valley. A year ago these two teams went into overtime before Auburn won.

    4. Are Alabama and Arkansas going to be looking ahead? No. 3 Alabama (2-0), fresh off an impressive win 27-11 at Penn State last week, hosts North Texas. Arkansas (2-0) will entertain Troy. Next week the two meet in Tuscaloosa in a rather big SEC West showdown. The short answer to the question is “no” but both teams hope to get the issue resolved before halftime on Saturday. There are a couple of things I’m looking for in these games: I want to see how the snaps are divided for Alabama quarterbacks AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims because it’s time for the Crimson Tide to settle on a starter. I also want to see how many snaps Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson gets. He got his bell rung last week against New Mexico and landed on his head the week before against Missouri State. Early this week Wilson said that he was ready to go. If I’m Bobby Petrino I do not want him to take too many shots in this game—not with Alabama’s defense coming up.

    5. Can South Carolina handle success? South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier certainly enjoyed last Saturday night’s 45-42 win at Georgia. But more than once he has told me that one of the toughest issues he has faced since becoming the Gamecocks’ coach is how his team reacts to a little success. “We only have one conference championship (1969 ACC title) and we’ve won an SEC East championship and that’s it,” said Spurrier. “Sometimes our guys don’t react real well when people start telling them how good they are.” Saturday’s meeting with Navy is the kind of game Spurrier is talking about. Navy runs the option, an offense South Carolina won’t see again this year, and it’s tough to prepare for in just one week. And based on my experience the Navy kids don’t get intimidated by bigger, more athletic opponents because that is a way of life at the service academies. Don’t be surprised if this is still a close game at the start of the third quarter.





     
     

    Barnhart Bio

    Newspapers
    •  1988-Present: College Writer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Television
    •  2004-Present: Contributing Reporter, "College Football Today on CBS"
    •  2009-Present: Host, "The Tony Barnhart Show," The CBS College Sports Network
    •  2006-Present: Co-host, "Talkin' Football," CSS (Nominated for Southern Regional Emmy Award, 2007)

    Radio
    • The Southern Football Kickoff Show

    Books
    •  "Southern Fried Football"

    Awards
    •  2008 Edwin Pope Vanguard Media Award
    •  2007 Fred Russell Contribution to Sports Writing Award