It's time to answer some of your questions before we hit the road for another big weekend in the SEC:
Jacob in Lexington, Kent., writes: I love Sonny Dykes for the Kentucky head coach. He's young, and can coach well. Plus, he used to assist at UK, and knows offense. If we can't get him, I like Neal Brown or Brent Pease. What are your thoughts? Who'd be the best fit?
Edward Aschoff: Dykes is one of those up-and-coming names that is sure to hear his name a lot when it comes to openings this winter. Kentucky is certainly one that he's being linked to and it sounds like Kentucky is interested. And why not? Louisiana Tech is 8-1 and has the No. 2 scoring offense. His team also ranks third nationally in total offense, averaging 570.9 yards per game. Kentucky wants an offensive mind to come in and bring some excitement back to the football program. Dykes has that ability. Duke's David Cutcliffe could also hear his name thrown in. He'll be taking Duke to a bowl game for the first time since 1994 and has had success in the SEC during his time as an assistant at Tennessee and as Ole Miss' head coach. Keep and eye on Pease, he seems interested and spoke openly about the job earlier this week. Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggart will probably get a mention, but you have to wonder if he's holding out for something else or if he's ready to coach in the SEC. I think Kentucky has to go after someone who will help bring offensive playmakers back to Lexington because the Wildcats are really hurting in that department.
JJ in Tumalo, Ore., writes: How do you guys rate the SEC overall this season? Obviously the bottom half is not better than the bottom half of other conferences. Do Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee, MIZZOU, Kentucky and Vandy play "All World SEC D?" As a Duck fan I am most interested in seeing how the Bama D' handles A&M with but a week instead of 40 days to prepare against a dangerous spread offense. Look at Oregon's future schedule. We Duck no one. How about a home-and-home with Bama? I know it won't happen. Why challenge yourself on the road when 100K will pay to watch you blow out Georgia State? All the best and thanks for the great SEC coverage.
Edward Aschoff: Lots of stuff in that one, but I'll see if I can help you out a little. To answer your first question, I think the SEC is still on top. Not sure you can shrug that off when you have five teams ranked within the top eight of the BCS standings. All of those teams could still make a BCS bowl game as well, including Alabama, which just has to win out to make it to the national championship. As for "All-World" defenses, Alabama, LSU, Florida, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Missouri all rank within the top 25 nationally in total defense. So, two of those teams you mentioned have been very good on defense this year. Missouri might not have an impressive record, but that defense has been pretty impressive this season. Vandy is third nationally in pass defense, as well. They might not be All-World, but they're pretty good. I'd also love to see Alabama play Oregon, or any SEC team play Oregon outside of a BCS bowl game. Home-and-home? Bring it on. I'm sick of seeing weak nonconference games on SEC schedules. Good football makes everyone happy. Also, expect Alabama's defense to be ready this weekend.
Dave in Savannah, Ga., writes: Is it now time for the tired old stat that UGA is X of XX against Florida to be retired? UGA has won four of the last nine, three of the last six and is on a two-game win streak against Florida. Are losses against a Florida team dating back to when current players were in diapers or not even born truly relevant? Seems intellectually lazy for sports writers to keep qouting those old numbers just for dramatic impact. What's your take?
Edward Aschoff: Honestly, I think you're right about retiring this old stat. Florida absolutely dominated Georgia during the 1990s and for most of the past decade, but, like you said, most of the players on either side could care less. Especially with Georgia winning two straight. Right now, the Bulldogs have all the momentum and can crow as loud as they want. This team can forget the past. Florida fans don't have to, but they shouldn't use it to tease Dawgs fans.
JE in Dallas writes: What do you think A&M has to do to beat Alabama? Short of zero turnovers, and not getting bulldozed at the line of scrimmage by Bama's O-line, what do you think are the keys to a possible upset?
Edward Aschoff: Making sure Manziel is upright and finding his guys. Alabama's defensive line isn't elite, but it can cause problems for offenses. It can be pretty disruptive. But we know that Texas A&M's offense revolves around Johnny Football. He has great weapons at receiver and talented running backs to work with, but the offense lives and dies by his effectiveness. Look at the second half of the Florida game and the LSU game. LSU showed some holes in Alabama's defense. Will they be there Saturday? I don't think so. I think the Tide's defense will be much more sound, but the Aggies have the ability to make some big plays. But it call comes down to Manziel. Oh, and yes, the defensive line has to be able to get past that O-line ...
Les Miles in Baton Rouge, La., writes: It's funny when my bag of tricks work they love me, but if I wasn't as aggressive as I was they would've questioned me as a coach. Whats it gonna take to please those in Tigerland?
Edward Aschoff: See, I thought that national championship in 2007 made fans more appreciative. Or the fact that you guys went on a historic run until the national championship last year. So far, you've never won less than eight games during your eight seasons at LSU. Still, it's an interesting bunch down there. They just get a little frustrated by all those heart-stopping calls, or the head-scratchers. You really can't blame them. In a league in which winning means so much, you tug at their hearts with a lot of the decisions you make. Those fourth-down decisions last week? Really? You don't get how that can frustrate fans? Winning cures all, but know that this fan base is itching for a championship with all that talent it has.
Matt in Athens, Ga., writes: Ed- Why do you and Chris have Georgia in the Outback bowl? Would losing to Alabama in the SEC championship really make Georgia go that far down? Why not Capital One?
Edward Aschoff: If Georgia makes it to the SEC championship game and loses to Alabama, I think the Capital One Bowl would jump all over Florida, especially if it finishes the season 11-1 and doesn't make it to the Sugar Bowl. If LSU wins out, it will be hard for the Sugar Bowl to turn the Tigers down. Two losses might still get the Gators in as well. They'd probably have a better chance with just one, but it's still possible. The Gators were last there following the 2007 season and Florida would be a big draw in Orlando. I'm not saying Georgia wouldn't be, but I think the Capital One Bowl would be very interested in bringing the Gators back to Orlando.
Tim in Atlanta, writes: Is it your sense among SEC-land that folks prefer to see a Alabama-Oregon matchup compared to Bama-KSU? If so, do you think the desire for that matchup will move the polls to ensure it, or do you think the pollsters are largely locked into their votes now?
Edward Aschoff: I think people in the SEC would love to see Alabama-Oregon because they couldn't be any different. Oregon has all the offense and no defense. Alabama has all the defense and a balanced offense. It's Nike speed vs. SEC power. We saw it in 2010 and 2011, but this is Alabama. It's the No. 1 team in the nation and it's going for its second consecutive national championship, while there are plenty of people out there saying Oregon deserves the No. 1 spot right now. People in SEC country are tired of hearing that. They want this settled on the field more than the players do. I just think it'd be a great game.