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Who says the winds of college football don't change direction as swiftly as politicians flip-flop on issues come election time?
|SEC Team Reports|
|From overviews to midseason MVPs to what's next, the team-by-team breakdowns have it all covered. Story|
That's what we thought.
Mr. Broyles, you can sit down now. And Mrs. Nutt, you can, too.
The Razorbacks (4-1, 3-0) appeared to be on shaky ground four Saturdays ago in Nashville as Bryant Hahnfeldt's 48-yard field goal attempt sailed dead center toward the goal posts at Vanderbilt Stadium. But a gust of wind knocked it down about 2 yards short, and Arkansas avoided its second straight loss to Vanderbilt with a 21-19 win that did little to excite Hog Nation.
Remember, two weeks earlier, Southern California had come into Fayetteville and cruised to a 50-14 rout.
It wasn't the kind of splash Nutt was hoping for to start the season, not after consecutive losing seasons.
|Running back Darren McFadden sparked the Razorbacks' upset of Auburn.|
The Hogs, as Auburn's Tommy Tuberville himself said, beat the No. 2-ranked Tigers at their own game. They punished them physically in piling up 279 rushing yards and running away with a 27-10 win, the highest-ranked opponent Arkansas has beaten on the road since a 14-13 win over No. 1 Texas in the old Southwest Conference days in 1964.
Arkansas, with the head-to-head tiebreaker edge over Auburn, would have to lose twice not to make it to Atlanta.
Nutt's message to his team has been simple: Stay grounded.
"Anybody can beat anybody on any given Saturday," said Nutt, whose Razorbacks will be heavy favorites the next three weeks against Southeast Missouri State, Mississippi and Louisiana-Monroe. "If you look at things that happen, this is a crazy game. This ball doesn't bounce up and down like a basketball. It's different. So, you have to come out just like you're playing Auburn. You have to, and that's the message we're trying to send."
The other side of the SEC has gone exactly as expected. Florida was the team to beat coming into the season, and the Gators (6-0, 4-0) already have beaten three top-20 teams in rising to No. 2 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
The 21-20 win at Tennessee was huge because it means Florida almost certainly will have to lose twice to keep from making its first SEC Championship Game appearance since the 2000 season.
The Gators, though, have positioned themselves for a run at an even bigger prize. The BCS national championship game looms a little larger every week, although the next couple of weeks probably will make or break their chances. They play at Auburn this Saturday and, after a week off, face Georgia in Jacksonville, Fla., on Oct. 28.
Junior linebacker Brandon Siler said there's a reason the Gators are unbeaten at the midway point, and it starts with their focus.
"All season, we've been looking at the opponent we play that week and concentrating on just them," Siler said. "That is what has gotten us here, and we're aren't changing that and thinking ahead now. I'd be disappointed if I had to talk to guys on the team about looking ahead, but I don't have to. I think that's a sign of a mature team."Biggest Surprise
Chris Low covers the SEC for The (Nashville) Tennessean.