SEC

Will the real Mississippi State please stand up?

Mississippi State players and fans celebrate the Bulldogs’ 35-28 upset of No. 4 Texas A&M on Saturday in Starkville.
Mississippi State players and fans celebrate the Bulldogs’ 35-28 upset of No. 4 Texas A&M on Saturday in Starkville. AP

It’s incredible that after all this time, all the polls and the highs and lows, THESE are the front runners.

No, no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I’m talking about the SEC East, which will have a pillow fight to decide who gets slaughtered by Alabama in the SEC championship on Dec. 3.

As of right now, Florida (6-2, 4-2) is still in the lead. Tennessee (6-3, 2-3) has a shot, as do Kentucky (5-4, 4-3) and South Carolina (5-4, 3-4). Yes, somehow teams that looked like absolute bottom feeders early in the season are still somehow alive. What a (college football) world we live in.

Here’s the remaining conference schedule for each of the East contenders:

Florida: South Carolina and LSU

Kentucky: Tennessee

South Carolina: Florida

Tennessee: Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt

Winner of the Week

Mississippi State 35 Texas A&M 28: Just when Bulldog faithful were feeling pretty down about their season, Mississippi State turns around and completes a massive upset, essentially knocking the Aggies out of the College Football Playoff picture. You could point out that star defensive end Myles Garrett wasn’t playing at 100 percent or the fact starting QB Trevor Knight was injured, but the Bulldogs deserve credit for the win. Now, which MSU team is for real? The Bulldogs who lost to South Alabama and had to win in a shootout against Samford? Or the group that knocked off one of the SEC’s elite in Texas A&M? The Dogs have another big task at 11 a.m. Saturday against Alabama.

Losers of the Week

Ole Miss fans: This one goes without saying. The Rebels’ season had been on a steady decline for much of the year — and then fell off a cliff over the weekend with the news Chad Kelly was undergoing season-ending surgery after being injured in Ole Miss’ 37-27 win over Georgia Southern. How bad are things? Hugh Freeze listed offensive lineman Jeremy Liggins, tight end Evan Engram and receiver Markell Pack as possible backup quarterback options to Jason Pellerin. The good news: It seems unlikely Freeze will pull the redshirt off freshman and QB-of-the-future Shea Patterson, but anything is possible.

Star player

QB Nick Fitzgerald (MSU): MSU’s young QB gets this spot for a second straight week after accounting for four touchdowns and 391 yards in total offense against the Aggies. Fitzgerald threw for 209 yards and rushed for 182, tying him for second nationally among QBs with his fifth 100-yard rushing game.

Statistically speaking

148: Arkansas running back Rawleigh Williams III rushed for 148 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns in the Razorbacks’ 31-10 victory over Florida.

Pollsters

Associated Press: No. 1 Alabama, No. 8 Auburn, No. 10 Texas A&M, No. 19 LSU, No. 22 Florida. Receiving votes: Arkansas, Tennessee.

USA Today/Amway Coaches Poll: No. 1 Alabama, No. 8 Auburn, No. 11 Texas A&M, No. 16 Florida, No. 19 LSU. Receiving votes: Arkansas, Tennessee.

College Football Playoff: No. 1 Alabama, No. 4 Texas A&M, No. 9 Auburn, No. 11 Florida, No. 13 LSU.

SEC Contenders

1. Alabama (9-0)

2. Auburn (7-2)

3. Texas A&M (7-2)

Relegation zone

12. South Carolina (5-4)

13. Vanderbilt (4-5)

14. Missouri (2-7)

Game to watch

LSU at Arkansas, 6 p.m. (ESPN): A week after being annihilated by Auburn, Arkansas bounced back to rout Florida 31-10. Now it’s LSU’s turn to bounce back after a heartbreaking loss. How will Ed Orgeron’s crew respond after losing a difficult 10-0 decision to No. 1 Alabama? If O is a serious contender as the Tigers’ next coach, he better have his team ready to face the Hogs on Saturday night. If nothing else, the matchup pits two of the more interesting SEC coaches against one another, so there’s that.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

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