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But it’s time to start ranking the teams more on who they’re playing and less on reputation. There’s some truly horrid squads in the SEC this season, and not nearly the top-to-bottom depth as past years. Tennessee and Kentucky are both winless in conference play and have already fired their coaches. Auburn is also 0-7 in the SEC and might be down to its final days with Gene Chizik at the helm.

Even so, if Alabama and Georgia win this week _ and both are heavy favorites _ the SEC will be assured of having a shot at another national title. Never mind that it’s hard to see how Bulldogs, especially, deserve to be in such a lofty position.

Georgia (10-1) has defeated only two top-division teams with winning records, No. 6 Florida and Vanderbilt, and the loss was a blowout _ 35-7 at South Carolina. No team has ever won a national title with such a lopsided defeat on its record. Yet here are the Bulldogs, two wins away from playing for the biggest title of all.

They should give thanks to the schedule.

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Paul Newberry is a national writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org or www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963