There’s warm. There’s downright toasty, and there’s scalding.
We’ll keep it to Hot and Not, our weekly rewind in the SEC:
Balance in the SEC: Having five teams ranked in the top 12 nationally midway through the season speaks for itself. There’s no question that Alabama and Florida have dominated this league for the past two years, but it’s clear that Arkansas, Auburn, LSU and South Carolina are serious about having a say in who wins the SEC championship this season. The knock on this conference recently has been that it’s a two-team league with several other mediocre teams filling out the upper tier. Those critics might want to think again. South Carolina’s convincing win against Alabama last week reinforced just how strong this league really is.
South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia: He played nearly perfect football in the upset of Alabama, threw three touchdown passes, was extremely humble afterward and was praised profusely by his head coach. Yes, the same Head Ball Coach that was hammering away at him during the spring and summer.
Alabama running back Mark Ingram: Maybe he is human after all. Last season’s Heisman Trophy winner has been held to 88 rushing yards on 23 carries the past two games and was kept out of the end zone against the Gamecocks.
Arkansas’s defense: What’s wrong with this picture? The Hogs’ defense saved the day last week in the 24-17 win over Texas A&M with one critical stop after another. Willy Robinson’s unit has improved tremendously.
Florida running back Emmanuel Moody: The Gators keep waiting on him to break through and be that consistent threat in the running game, but it just hasn’t happened. He didn’t help matters by losing a costly fumble just before halftime in the 33-29 loss to LSU.
South Carolina in the red zone: Let’s refer to it as the “garnet zone.” The Gamecocks lead the SEC in red zone offense, scoring touchdowns in 17 of their 20 trips inside the 20. They also lead the league in red zone defense, allowing opponents just five touchdowns in 20 trips.
Kentucky’s run defense: The Wildcats are getting gashed on the ground. They’re last in the SEC in rushing defense, allowing 190.3 rushing yards per game, and have already given up 15 rushing touchdowns this season.
LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee: He’s a perfect example of why it pays to hang in there. Lee threw 16 interceptions two years ago as a redshirt freshman, and seven of those were returned for interceptions. But he’s come off the bench to pull the Tigers out of the fire each of the last two weeks with game-winning drives.
Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio: The boos were hard to miss last Saturday by the Florida fans as the Gators continued to limp along on offense. Nobody in Swamp Land is real thrilled with anything about this offense, including the play-calling.
Tennessee’s pass protection: It will be a minor miracle at this rate if Tennessee quarterback Matt Simms finishes the season in one piece. He’s taking a wicked beating, as the Vols’ young offensive line continues to struggle when it comes to protecting the passer. They’ve now allowed 23 sacks, which is more than any other FBS team in the country. Simms has been sacked nine times in his past two games, and that’s not even counting the other times when he was knocked around after just getting rid of the ball. Hope he’s got a good whirlpool where he lives, because he’s going to need it.