These days it seems like ESPN is desperate to "brand" every single weekend of the college football season -- Road Test Saturday, Step Up Saturday, blah blah for the love of God stop it -- so here's a freebie, ESPN marketers: Go ahead and call this "Undercard Saturday" in the SEC. From Columbia to Fayetteville, we're all basically sitting around waiting for Alabama-LSU at this point. Sounds like a strange thing to say heading into a weekend when the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party jumps off for the 90th time, and when South Carolina makes its first attempt to hold on to the top spot in the East without Marcus Lattimore, but it's the truth.
My ballot below, and the final tally will be posted at Team Speed Kills sometime tomorrow.
1. LSU -- For Auburn fans to hold out hope for victory in Baton Rouge just because of Tyrann Mathieu's suspension was kind of like Michael Spinks hoping for a win because Mike Tyson had a stuffy nose that morning.
2. Alabama -- Even when the Tide went into halftime tied with Tennessee, you knew it was only a matter of time before Nick Saban brought in the heavy artillery.
3. Arkansas -- Can't really drop them even after Saturday's ridiculously close win against a terrible Ole Miss team, but I certainly don't see them climbing any higher than this, either.
4. Georgia -- The mere fact that they don't have a critical skill-position player in jail or in the hospital pretty much makes them tops in the East by default at this point, though that could change in the blink of an eye in Jacksonville.
5. Auburn -- The fact that they can still rank this high even after getting napalmed in Baton Rouge gives you an idea how top-heavy a league the SEC is this year.
6. South Carolina -- It'll be awfully interesting to see the Gamecocks get their first taste of Life After Lattimore in Knoxville this weekend. Alabama had the horsepower to make Tennessee pay for their lack of depth in the second half, but Carolina may not.
7. Florida -- John Brantley likely returns to the lineup for the Cocktail Party, but Chris Rainey will still be the player Georgia's defense puts a bullseye on.
8. Vanderbilt -- If you count their home game against Kentucky as a win, the Commodores only need a win in one of their other four remaining games to earn a bowl invite.
9. Mississippi State -- The Bizarro Bulldogs haven't gotten blown off the map in any of their losses this year, but there's nothing about this team right now that makes you think they're about to pull a truly dominating performance against any of their remaining opponents, either. Even Kentucky.
10. Tennessee -- Looking for a stark indication of just how severely Tennessee's depth issues have crippled them this season? In their four SEC games so far (all losses), the Vols have been outscored 56-6 in the third quarter.
11. Ole Miss -- Oh, Houston Nutt . . . it's really cute to watch you act like you aren't totally fired the second the Egg Bowl is over.
12. Kentucky -- Mea culpa time: I honestly thought Kentucky was gonna lose to Jacksonville State last week. But I'm pretty sure that's the last bit of credit I'll have cause to give the Wildcats this year.