Consider this our SEC championship game week version of Hot and Not:
SEC championship game hype: The beauty of this game is that it really doesn’t need a lot of hype. It’s the matchup we’ve all been waiting for since October. It’s got it all -- two great defenses, two great coaches, two unbeaten teams, future NFL players all over the field and at stake a berth in the BCS National Championship Game. Is it the biggest SEC game ever? It’s certainly one of the biggest and should provide great drama either way. Alabama gets a shot at redemption after last season’s bitter loss in Atlanta, and Florida gets a shot at college football immortality with a win in Atlanta and a second win a month later in the BCS National Championship.
Mississippi State running back Anthony Dixon: Anybody take a gander at the SEC rushing leaders coming out of the final week of the regular season? Dixon ended his career as the SEC's leading rusher this season with 1,391 yards and an average of 125.6 yards per game. He passed Alabama’s Mark Ingram. I’m not sure there was a player more valuable to his team this season than Dixon.
Clear thoughts: The missile-like collision between LSU’s Chad Jones and Arkansas’ Joe Adams at the goal line near the end of regulation last Saturday had to register on the Richter Scale. It was the hit of the year in the SEC. Jones was penalized for leading with his helmet, but replays appeared to show that he actually delivered the blow with his shoulder. Either way, something tells me both of those guys were loading up on aspirin the next few days.
Bowl scenarios: They seemingly change by the hour. At one point, there were discussions aimed at Tennessee going to the Cotton Bowl and perhaps Ole Miss to the Outback Bowl. Then Kentucky entered the Outback picture. The latest scuttlebutt has LSU going to the Capital One, Ole Miss to the Cotton, Auburn to the Outback and the Chick-fil-A trying to decide between Georgia and Tennessee.
Gimmicky uniforms: Where does it end? Black jerseys. Black helmets. Gold helmets. New designs on the helmets. At this rate, we’re going to need a fashion expert covering the league.
SEC championship game tickets: If anybody has any extras, I’d like to have four on the 50-yard line, preferably up there in the club section where they serve you. What do you think those babies would bring? That said, the SEC is warning people to be on the lookout for counterfeit tickets.
Alabama-Florida rematch: It’s a moot point unless Texas loses in the Big 12 championship game. Still, I just don’t see it happening, and really, it wouldn’t be fair to the team that wins this Saturday in Atlanta. You win a game of that magnitude and then have to turn around and beat that same team a month later to win the national title? I love SEC football as much as anybody, but that’s a bit much.
Tennessee running back Montario Hardesty: So much for the durability concerns, huh? Hardesty has carried the ball an SEC-high 264 times this season for 1,306 yards and needs 159 yards in the bowl game to pass Travis Stephens as the Vols’ all-time single-season rushing leader. And oh yeah, Hardesty didn’t lose a fumble on a rushing attempt all season.
Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead: He’s a better player than he’s shown, but there’s no getting around the fact that Snead has simply had a bad year. The interception he threw against Mississippi State that was returned for a touchdown was as poor a throw as you’ll see at this level. He wound up with 15 interceptions in eight SEC games.
Ice, Ice Baby
Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap: Pretty easy choice this week. Dunlap thrust himself to the front of the line thanks to his arrest on drunken driving charges early Tuesday morning. According to Gainesville police, the 290-pound Dunlap was slumped over in his car asleep with the clutch still in gear while sitting at a traffic light. Police said he had trouble conveying basic information and keeping his balance during sobriety tests. Let’s hope he’s a little more alert Saturday if he’s allowed to play. And hold the jokes about half-game suspensions.