Aaron Brenner, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
**All games Saturday unless noted … all times CT … all rankings BCS**
1) No. 2 Alabama (10-1, 6-1 SEC); Last week, 1
Last week: beat Western Carolina 49-0
Many schools’ game notes will break out their listings by unit, which would be ordered just as you’d expect: offense, then defense, then special teams … or QBs, then RBs, then WRs, etc. etc. down to DBs, Ks, Ps and returners. Not Alabama’s. Defensive notes come first. It’s fitting, really. The Crimson Tide defense has become the college version of Tom Brady: even when it’s not a season for the ages, you look at the quiet statistics, and they still jump out at you. (For example, Alabama “only” ranks seventh nationally in pass efficiency defense.) Dee Milliner, Robert Lester, C.J. Mosley, the whole gang’s just good. Auburn’s offense gained 140 total yards and zero points last year at Jordan-Hare against the Tide. Why does this game smell about the same?
Next: vs. Auburn (3-8, 0-7), 2:30 p.m. | CBS
Bowl prediction: BCS National Championship
2) No. 3 Georgia (10-1, 7-1); LW, 2
Last week: beat Georgia Southern 45-14
Aaron Murray, deflecting NFL talk before he makes a decision whether to return for his senior year. “I’m having too much fun right now.” That’s what it’s all about. He’s probably leaving Athens soon, but what a ride it’s been for him.
Next: vs. Georgia Tech (6-5), 11 a.m. | ESPN
Bowl prediction: Capital One Bowl
3) No. 9 Texas A&M (9-2, 5-2 SEC); LW, 4
Last week: beat Sam Houston State 47-28
Yeah, Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples said it best on the tricked-out Texas A&M page: “If the award is going to be for the most outstanding football player – for the guy who makes the biggest difference – there’s no question who that is. If you’re not thinking of voting for Johnny Manziel, you’re nuts.” In other words: hey, stuffy old farts who have a Heisman vote. Don’t care if it’s a freshman, a senior, a senior citizen, or Sam Gordon. You pick the best player. It’s not even close this year. Wasn’t even close before K-State went down, but hey, good guy and good player Collin Klein, appreciate you making this easier.
Next: vs. Missouri (5-6, 2-5), 6 p.m. | ESPN2
Bowl prediction: Cotton Bowl
4) No. 7 LSU (9-2, 5-2); LW, 3
Last week: beat Ole Miss 41-35
Really couldn’t have asked for a tougher slate for LSU this year. Had to play South Carolina AND Florida outside of the SEC West, and their two losses are to top-four squads by a combined 12 points. Tough submerging LSU below the Aggies, who the Tigers just beat at Kyle Field within the past month. But A&M’s been more impressive, and has the better offense more likely to compete with the top-flight foes.
Next: at Arkansas (4-7, 2-5), 1:30 p.m. Friday | CBS
Bowl prediction: Sugar Bowl
5) No. 4 Florida (10-1, 7-1); LW, 5
Last week: beat Jacksonville State 23-0
Quit ripping on Florida’s offense. The Gators have the NCAA’s second-longest FBS streak of games without getting shut out. You have to go back 307 games to Oct. 29, 1988: Auburn 16, Florida 0. (Gene Chizik was a graduate assistant at Clemson, and the eldest current Tiger, T’Sharvan Bell, was 10 months away from being born.)
Next: at No. 10 Florida State (10-1), 2:30 p.m. | ABC
Bowl prediction: Outback Bowl
6) No. 12 South Carolina (9-2, 6-2); LW, 6
Last week: beat Wofford 24-7
Goes without saying the Clemson offense against the South Carolina defense should be a fantastic matchup. But look for Connor Shaw (career record: 18-3) to quietly make enough plays for a big road win. Here’s a stat that may shock you, in the passer rating category: Shaw 156.93, Manziel 155.14.
Next: at No. 11 Clemson (10-1), 6 p.m. | ESPN
Bowl prediction: Chick-Fil-A Bowl
Last week: beat Tennessee 41-18
Five magical words soon to be oft-uttered into the holiday season: “Wait, Vanderbilt has eight wins?” Fill in obligatory coach-killer joke here, after the Kentucky and Tennessee drillings. Watch your back, Jim Grobe.
Next: at Wake Forest (5-6), 2:30 p.m. | ESPNU
Bowl prediction: Music City Bowl
8) Mississippi State (8-3, 4-3); LW, 7
Last week: beat Arkansas 45-14
Stinks that the Egg Bowl’s been relegated to ESPNU. The Bulldogs, ranked in both human polls but not in the BCS top 25, are almost certainly heading to Jacksonville no matter what the outcome. They should be uber-motivated for a couple reasons: State’s got something to prove, since its four conference wins are against SEC teams with a combined 2-26 league record; and that state battle for bragging rights is something nasty.
Next: at Ole Miss (5-6, 2-5), 6 p.m. | ESPNU
Bowl prediction: Gator Bowl
9) Ole Miss (5-6, 2-5); LW, 9
Last week: lost at No. 7 LSU 41-35
You seem a likeable guy, Hugh Freeze. What’s with the player embargo this week? Prepare to get ripped if you blow this home game – and with it, a bowl shot.
Next: vs. Mississippi State (8-3, 4-3), 6 p.m. | ESPNU
Bowl prediction: Liberty Bowl with a victory, about a 50-50 proposition
10) Arkansas (4-7, 2-5); LW, 10
Last week: lost at Mississippi State 45-14
Only two more days until the sad conclusion of the ‘Smile’ era. A pity reporters can’t attend both Les Miles and John L. Smith press conferences. Can we dub this the Delightfully Weird Bowl?
Next: vs. No. 7 LSU (9-2, 5-2), 1:30 p.m. Friday | CBS
11) Missouri (5-6, 2-5); LW, 12
Last week: lost to Syracuse 31-27
Ooof, that’s gotta hurt. No reason not to take care of business against the Orange. That’ll deprive Mizzou of about 15 bowl practices, which really could have been useful.
Next: at No. 9 Texas A&M (9-2, 5-2), 6 p.m. | ESPN2
Bowl prediction: BBVA Compass Bowl with a victory, which is unlikely (could move up to Liberty Bowl if Ole Miss loses)
12) Tennessee (4-7, 0-7); LW, 11
Last week: lost at Vanderbilt 41-18
My hairstylist’s daughter said a friend told her she heard that Sam Gordon might be a candidate for the Tennessee job. Wanna tweet my report, Football Rumor Mill?
Next: vs. Kentucky (2-9, 0-7), 11:21 a.m. | SECN
13) Auburn (3-8, 0-7); LW, 13
Last week: beat Alabama A&M 51-7
Yer darn right I slipped multiple Sam Gordon references into these rankings. Oh, yes, right, something Auburn-y. Welp, Jonathan Wallace’s winning percentage currently exceeds that of Tyler Wilson. This is a fact. … Look, give Chizik this: he’s not lying when he says Auburn has to play its best football of the year to have a chance. In all reality, that can probably be tweaked to “perfect” football. The Tide will not take pity on the Tigers.
Next: at No. 2 Alabama (10-1, 6-1), 2:30 p.m. | CBS
14) Kentucky (2-9, 0-7); LW, 14
Last week: beat Samford 34-3
Apparently, this rivalry is referred to as the Battle for the Barrel. However, there is no longer an actual barrel up for grabs, after a 1998 alcohol-related car crash killing Kentucky players. But this great American rivalry does, indeed, have a name. See. And you thought you wouldn’t learn anything new from this column.
Next: at Tennessee (4-7, 0-7), 11:21 a.m. | SECN