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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Not that Florida had really gone anywhere, but the Gators served notice in Week 7 that they're every bit the contender we thought they were when the season began. Auburn and Tennessee are every bit as bad offensively as we thought they were, and there's a little life left in the Head Ball Coach after all. Anybody taking bets on who winds up in Atlanta? While that debate rages, let's hand out some helmet stickers after a Saturday filled with memorable performances:
Brandon Spikes, linebacker, Florida: He's the Gators' emotional leader on defense and one of those rare players who raise the level of play of everybody around them. Spikes was the centerpiece of a Florida defense Saturday that chomped down on No. 3-ranked LSU in a 51-21 rout. Spikes had two interceptions, one that he returned 52 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to send the Tigers packing once and for all. He's just one of those guys who's always around the football.
Michael Smith, tailback, Arkansas: The 5-foot-7, 175-pound Smith might be small in stature, but he's got a heart as big as the entire state of Arkansas. Smith carried the ball 35 times for 176 yards in the 25-22 upset of No. 20-ranked Auburn and scored the go-ahead touchdown for the Razorbacks on a 63-yard run midway through the fourth quarter. He also had two catches for 46 yards and one punt return for 10 yards to finish with 232 all-purpose yards. Quietly, he's having a terrific season.
South Carolina's defense: Ellis Johnson and his staff have done a marvelous job with a South Carolina defense that has been rock-solid all season. The Gamecocks, in winning their second straight SEC road game Saturday at Kentucky, held the Wildcats to 10 offensive points and 1 of 16 on third-down conversions. The South Carolina defense was good enough that the Gamecocks were able to weather four turnovers and four missed field goals. They held Kentucky to just 56 yards of total offense in the second half.
Jeffrey Demps, running back, Florida: His breakaway speed and knack for breaking the big play have opened up all sorts of possibilities for the Gators' offense. Demps scorched LSU for 129 yards rushing on 10 carries. He took an option pitch from Tim Tebow out of the shotgun and scooted 42 yards for a touchdown. There's fast and then there's Demps fast. He already has four touchdown runs of 30 yards or longer this season and has rushed for 232 yards in his last two games.
Sylvester Croom, head coach, Mississippi State: Croom has taken some heat this season, and fans with short memories are grumbling. He had his Bulldogs ready to play, and they did all of the things it takes to win in knocking off previously unbeaten Vanderbilt. The guy knows what he's doing. Let him finish the job.