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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

    I can’t believe we are about to arrive at the first Saturday in October. There were a lot of great moments in September but this you should know: The first month of the season simply set the stage. Now the real drama begins. Here are this week’s Five Burning Questions about SEC football:

    1. Can Florida protect John Brantley? Last week I saw Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson look very sharp in the first quarter against Alabama as he completed 12 of his first 13 passes. But here’s the thing about playing this Alabama defense. They just pound on a quarterback to the point where, when the fourth quarter rolls around, he is just worn down, worn out and beat up. Florida is 4-0 and has the home field advantage of The Swamp. But this Alabama defense is aggressive and looks to be one of the best tackling units that Nick Saban has ever had. Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will have to be a counter puncher all night long as Saban’s heavyweight defense tries to deliver body blows against the Florida offense. The key is making sure Brantley doesn’t take too many shots.

    2. How many times will the HBC throw his headset against Auburn? South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was a very frustrated man last week when his team beat Vanderbilt 21-3 but looked very bad doing it. The Gamecocks had nine penalties (4 by the offensive line) and quarterback Stephen Garcia threw four interceptions and now has seven picks on the season.  South Carolina is 4-0 and ranked No. 10 despite having to come from behind in every game this season. Spurrier knows he can win a bunch of games, including Saturday’s home game with Auburn, by just giving the ball to Marcus Lattimore. But sooner or later the Gamecocks are going to have to throw the ball down the field to beat some of the better teams on their schedule. “I guess we’re just going to have to coach our quarterbacks and receivers a little harder,” he said.

    3. Which group of Bulldogs is going to prevail? Saturday’s game between Mississippi State and Georgia in Athens is huge for both teams. Georgia (2-2, 1-1 SEC) knows that South Carolina is struggling and has some tough road games coming up at Mississippi State, Tennessee and Arkansas. If Georgia can right the ship it has a chance to get back into the SEC East race. Mississippi State had to work overtime last week to beat Louisiana Tech and needs something good to happen after consecutive SEC losses to Auburn and LSU. Dan Mullen’s team (0-2 SEC) is not going to win the SEC West but another good season is possible after winning nine games in 2010. I give Georgia the edge in this one because its defense is starting to play better. Georgia held Ole Miss to only eight first downs last week. And when it comes down to third down conversions, Georgia’s defense is stopping the opposition 75 percent of the time.

    4. How will LSU perform as the nation’s No. 1 team? Very well, thank you. LSU was voted the nation’s No. 1 team in the most recent Associated Press media poll and deservedly so. Once four games are in the book teams should be rewarded for their body of work. LSU has beaten the Pac-12 favorite (Oregon) on a neutral site. The Tigers went on the road on a five-day turnaround and dominated Mississippi State in Starkville. Then they went to West Virginia, the Big East favorite, and dominated again. Saturday the Tigers will kick about 11:20 a.m. in Baton Rouge against a struggling team from Kentucky (2-2, 0-1).  Kentucky is last in the SEC in scoring offense, 10th in total offense, 10th in rushing offense, and 10th in passing offense. For LSU, this game is about recovering from last week’s trip to West Virginia and getting the team ready for next week’s visit from Florida.

    5. Can we just go ahead and call Arkansas and Texas A&M a conference game? We welcome the Aggies to the SEC family and look forward to our future trips to College Station. But Saturday’s game still has to be a non-conference encounter that both desperately want to win. That’s because Arkansas and Texas A&M are both coming off difficult losses to Alabama and Oklahoma State respectively. The Aggies let a 17-point lead slip away in a 30-29 loss to Oklahoma State. I’m giving an edge to Arkansas but I’m not completely sure that’s a sound pick. As we noted earlier, Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson really got pounded last week against Alabama. Texas A&M, we should also note, leads the nation in interceptions with 14 sacks. It should be interesting.


    Barnhart Bio

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

    •  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)

    • The Southern Football Kickoff Show

    •  "Southern Fried Football"

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