- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 7, 2012

Saturday’s pair of blockbuster top-10 matchups emphatically determined two things in the nation’s most competitive conference.

The SEC East title goes through Florida. And Steve Spurrier will have a say in how that division is determined.

Really, it’s just like old times.

Florida and South Carolina recorded notable victories, both surprising in their own ways. In two weeks, they will meet in Gainesville in a game with heavy league and national title implications.

For the Gators (5-0, 4-0), their 14-6 triumph over LSU suggests a rediscovered ability to thrive in the sort of low-scoring slugfests the SEC is known for. Florida had lost 10 straight times when it failed to crack 20 points, a streak that began with a 2009 conference title game setback against Alabama.

Meantime, the Gamecocks (6-0, 4-0) throttled Georgia 35-7 after scoring three touchdowns in the first 10 minutes. It was far from a classic Spurrier demolition (South Carolina threw just 10 passes), but it was every bit as effective as many of the routs his teams have produced over the years.

It’s not a given their showdown in less than a fortnight will remain so imposing. South Carolina, after all, visits what is sure to be a cranky LSU bunch Saturday.

It, however, will surely be important. With Florida and the Head Ball Coach involved and a real chance the SEC East title is at stake, there’s something perfectly appropriate about that.

Weekend riser

Ohio State. The Buckeyes are ineligible for the Big Ten title, though they might be the best the league has to offer after blistering Nebraska 63-38. Ohio State (6-0) is the lone overall unbeaten left in the Big Ten and its toughest remaining tests are early-season disappointments Wisconsin and Michigan. Urban Meyer’s first year in Columbus is going swimmingly, regardless of postseason sanctions.

Navy. The Midshipmen rallied to capture the first leg of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, toppling Air Force 28-21 in overtime and in the process salvaging their season. At 2-3 and with a manageable schedule to come, it is realistic for Navy to have a winning record, return to a bowl game and, oh yes, beat Army to secure service academy supremacy.

The Research Triangle. Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State won conference home games. The last time it happened? Oct. 15, 1994. Even with basketball season right around the corner, it was a day for pigskin pride on Tobacco Road.

Weekend decliners

Florida State. The perpetual Tallahassee tease struck again in a 17-16 loss at N.C. State. The Seminoles built a 16-0 halftime lead, then watched it evaporate in the fourth quarter as they took their annual inexplicable loss in North Carolina under Jimbo Fisher. So much for those national title hopes.

Frank Spaziani. Boston College’s fourth-year coach has presided over a steady decrease in victories, and he and the Eagles (1-4) might have hit a new low in a 34-31 setback against previously winless Army. With a new athletic director likely to be hired soon and Boston College’s already diminishing returns shrinking even more, it’s easy to see a change coming at season’s end — if not sooner.

Casey Pachall. The TCU quarterback was suspended indefinitely late last week after an arrest on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. In his absence, the Horned Frogs (4-1) committed five turnovers and lost 37-23 to Iowa State at home, their first loss as a member of the Big 12.



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