After many years of playing the Big XII South second fiddle, Mike Leach and his Red Raiders finally broke out with a huge victory over the Longhorns and are now primed for a run at the BCS Title if they can get past Oklahoma. That's a big if because the Sooners are playing very well right now, but the Raiders have an unstoppable offense and are capable of winning a shootout with anyone. I wouldn't bet against them at this point.
Several weeks ago, the Gators were all but forgotten in the national title race. Now, though, they're right back in it after thrashing two elite SEC teams by absurdly large margins. However, they'll need a little help to get there. They can eliminate Alabama by beating the Tide in the SECCG but, Texas Tech and Penn State control their ability to finish higher than the Gators. If the Raiders or Nittany Lions fall down the stretch and the Gators win out, though, the quality of the Gators' wins will likely place them in position to play for a second BCS Title in three years. After what they've done to LSU and Georgia, I like Florida's chances against any team in the nation.
SEC Conference Depth
It'll be hard to know just how good Alabama and Florida or how bad the rest of the conference is until the bowl season. One thing is certain, though: unlike in years past, when the gap between the conference's best teams and its worst was very small, this year Bama and Florida are much, much better than all of the conference's other teams (although LSU will get a shot to prove itself against Alabama this week).
When Florida won the national title in 2006, they had to survive numerous close calls against the likes of Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina. This year, other than the now-inexplicable Ole Miss debacle, the Gators are winning games against the likes of LSU and Georgia by several-TD margins. Bama similarly ran the Bulldogs, who are clearly the SEC's third-best team, off the field. Simply put, the gap between the Tide and Gators and Georgia is very large, and there's another fairly large gap between Georgia and LSU and South Carolina, who are probably the fourth- and fifth-best teams.
What's wrong with the SEC's middle tier? Inexperience at quarterback is one issue facing LSU and Carolina. LSU also has a young defense, and Carolina has an inconsistent offensive line and can't establish a running game. Georgia is a little more perplexing, as they have more pieces than the Tigers and Gamecocks. Injuries to key trench players and a generally underwhelming defense have played a major part in Georgia's problems, though.
Wofford and South Carolina by Extension
Most people won't care too much about this, but Gamecocks will find it interesting: Appalachian State beat Wofford 70-24 last week! Steve Spurrier must be wondering why he couldn't score more than 23 against the Terriers.