Want to stop a college student right in the middle of his hundredth or so text message of the day? Want to shut down the latest Madden video tournament or online poker party?
Midterm examinations should do the job.
Welcome to the annual SEC midterm grades from Game Day Weekly and The Campus Game.
Every year we post grades halfway through the season, and grade inflation is a dirty phrase to us; we’ll fail you faster than Tommy Tuberville can fire a coordinator.
We do not allow makeup exams. There are no excused absences in our grading scale, and don’t even ask about extra credit.
Make the grade and you might be rewarded with a New Year’s trip to New Orleans, another BCS site, or the sandy beaches of Florida.
A failing mark means staying home for the holidays, or perhaps a mid-December trip to a city where you’ll need to pack a heavy coat instead of swim trunks.
Grades are posted alphabetically by division.
Alabama: We knew there was much promise here, but didn’t expect this kind of first-in-the-class performance. Has aced every test thus far and is now shooting for Valedictorian. Grade: A+.
Arkansas: Needs remediation … or at least regular trips to study hall. Some improvement noticeable the past couple of quizzes, but does not seem prepared for tougher tests to come. Grade: D.
Auburn: Too many distractions that result in low scores. Tries one system and then another, but has not buckled down and performed with any consistency. Too much talent for this mark. Grade: D.
LSU: Could be a top student, but the hangover from a trip to Florida has left this star student behind a bit. Must get by some tough tests to move to top of class. Grade: B+.
Ole Miss: A puzzling performance at mid-semester. One week looks like a true scholar, then loses concentration and fails an exam the next week. Not giving up on this student yet though. Grade: B-.
Miss State: Earnest, hard-working type that may have tried to get by on last year’s efforts. That doesn’t work in this class. Grade: D.
Florida: All that talent makes a slipup seem even more dramatic. Still looks like a good bet to make the Dean’s list. Grade: A-.
Georgia: Too undisciplined to be the class leader because you never know what to expect … looks to know all the answers one week then sleeps through class the next. Grade: B.
Kentucky: Had potential to be a star performer until the last two tests before the midterm. A decent student, fun to have in class, but not ready to graduate with honors just yet. Grade: B-.
South Carolina: Class wild-child. Started pretty slow, but has really come on lately. Might be in the top half of class before long. Grade: B-.
Tennessee: Flunked every legitimate test thus far in the term, and is now running out of chances to post a passing grade. May have big problems here and will likely be home for the holidays. Grade: F.
Vanderbilt: Classic overachiever really scored well until this past weekend. Keep performing like this and earn a nice end-of-semester trip for the effort. Grade: A-.
Enjoy the games!
Game Day Weekly Conference Ratings
1. Alabama … Crimson Tide controls destiny in division, conference, and national championship races.
2. Florida … Return of the Swamp Creature as the Gators poured it on LSU.
3. Georgia … Probably a bit high for the Dogs, but with LSU losing big there is nobody else to bump up.
4. LSU … Tigers got swamped by Gators. Now all the big tests are at home.
5. South Carolina … Gamecocks suddenly getting just enough offense to be dangerous.
6. Vanderbilt … Back to earth for Commodores after loss to State. Still looking for one more win.
7. Kentucky … Big Blue has dropped two tough ones in a row … could get well against Hogs this week.
8. Ole Miss … Rebs at 3-3 as they reach AAA part of schedule … Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn.
9. Mississippi State … Bullies will try to win three in a row over Tennessee teams … first Vandy, now UT, then MTSU.
10. Arkansas … Hogs finally climb out of rankings basement with win at Auburn.
11. Auburn … No word on who Tub will fire this week … just know it won’t be himself.
12. Tennessee … Fire Fulmer-Meter now running wide-open. A loss to Miss State might cause school to push the $6 Million buyout button.
Last Week’s Record 3-2
2008 Record 39-14
On the positive side, the Miss State and Florida calls look pretty good. The Kentucky and Auburn losses? Not so much. Give us a solid B at the midterm, as we try to avoid losses that might land us the old Gentleman’s C.
* All Times Eastern
Ole Miss at Alabama (3:30 CBS)
Both teams had the week off to prepare. Ole Miss has the athletes to compete with Alabama, and Houston Nutt does fine in big games (it’s the ones his teams should win that cause problems). Further complicating the picture for Alabama is that the Tide is now in the driver’s seat as far as the national championship game goes. That seat has not been kind so far (see Georgia, USC, and Oklahoma). Let’s roll with the Tide although this one scares me a bit.
Game Ball: Alabama
Arkansas at Kentucky (7:00 ESPN U)
Give Arkansas credit for continuing to battle by beating Auburn on the road after losing three games in a row by a combined 139-31 score. The Hogs showed improvement on offense by outgaining Auburn 416-193. Kentucky has lost two in a row after starting the season 4-0. I think the Wildcats are the better team and pick them to get back on the winning track by handling the Hogs.
Game Ball: Kentucky
Vanderbilt at Georgia (12:30 Raycom)
* Note: For a fuller account see SEC Game of the Week: Burgers and Fries … (a special for TCG). Georgia continues to perplex. The Dogs had plenty of chances to blow out a reeling Tennessee team, only to keep giving the Volunteers chances by turning the ball over. Matthew Stafford was erratic, passing for a career-best 310 yards, but also tossing two terrible interceptions in the red zone that both led to eventual Tennessee touchdowns. Vanderbilt tasted defeat for the first time by losing in Starkville and the Commodores better not look ahead to a bowl too quick. They need one win, and the only game in which they are likely to be much of a favorite is next week against Duke. This one should be close; give edge to Georgia.
Game Ball: Georgia
LSU at South Carolina (8:00 ESPN)
The Gamecocks have suddenly come to life. After starting the season 1-2 and struggling in wins over Wofford and UAB, SC struts into this contest on a four-game win streak fresh from big road wins over quality teams at Ole Miss and Kentucky. Unfortunately, LSU will be playing to avoid falling farther behind Alabama in the SEC West race. The Tigers got whipped soundly by Florida on the road and this game will present an interesting challenge to them. If you are looking for an upset special this one feels right … but I cannot pull the trigger against the defending national champs.
Game Ball: LSU
Mississippi State at Tennessee (7:00)
Tennessee fans are all turning math majors. The formula goes like this … fire Phillip Fulmer and the school owes him six million dollars, payable in annual $1.5 million sums the next four years. The big man could eat a lot of meals at Cracker Barrel on that kind of cash. Some who were in Knoxville when Fulmer shouldered aside Vol legend Johnny Majors to get the head coaching job are not unhappy to see Fulmer suffering a slow boil. State has underachieved for the most part, but did get a nice win over Vanderbilt last week. Fulmer has quite a knack for self-preservation, so go with the Big Orange.
Game Ball: Tennessee
Open: Auburn, Florida