This season is the perfect example of why you should never bet on college football – anything can happen.
Suddenly, South Carolina and Kentucky might be on the edge of bowl eligibility, while Georgia and Tennessee have been underwhelming for most of the season. Certain coaches have the opportunity to take a stranglehold on their jobs for the next season or two with convincing wins this weekend.
Here are the SEC coaches with the most to gain and lose in Week 11:
Gain: Will Muschamp
South Carolina at Florida – 12 p.m. Saturday in Gainesville, Fla. (CBS)
This is the absolute perfect opportunity for Muschamp to expel his demons against his old team. South Carolina heads to The Swamp to take on Florida, which has no love lost for the coach that drove its program into the ground.
However, Muchamp has reinvented himself in his second stint, largely behind the performance of true freshman QB Jake Bentley. He is is 3-0 with six touchdowns and zero interceptions. The highlight was a shocking 24-21 win over No. 18 Tennessee. If Muschamp can lead his team to victory in Gainesville, he will buy years of cache with the program.
Lose: Butch Jones
Tennessee vs. Kentucky – 12 p.m. Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn. (SEC Network)
Obviously, Jones is back on the hot seat after losing to South Carolina a few weeks back. After losing running back Jalen Hurd to midseason transfer, the Volunteers are running out of quality players on both sides of the ball. It doesn’t help that one of the most surprising offenses in football is coming to town.
Kentucky has established a dominant run game behind running backs Benny Snell and Boom Williams, while Tennessee has experienced injuries to several of its top linebackers. If Tennessee loses this game to the Wildcats, Jones is almost certainly out of a job come season’s end.
Gain: Bret Bielema
No. 25 Arkansas vs. No. 24 LSU – 7 p.m. Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark. (ESPN)
November is officially upon us, and with it comes the Arkansas surge. The past two seasons, Bielema’s Arkansas team has gone 6-2 against the SEC during the final month, including 4-0 against ranked opponents. Compare that to just 2-6 in the rest of conference play over those two years. That run is already off to a great start after a total beatdown of the No. 11 Florida Gators last weekend.
This week will be a much tougher test, but Arkansas has a significant opportunity against LSU on Saturday. The Tigers played one of the best defensive games in a long while on Saturday, and showed inconsistency in the pass game. If Arkansas is able to take advantage, it will give Bielema momentum heading into the end of the season.
Lose: Kirby Smart
Georgia vs. No. 9 Georgia – 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Athens, Ga. (CBS)
The Bulldogs needed a game-winning field goal to sneak past Kentucky and now should be able to eke out bowl eligibility. Regardless, barely scraping together six or seven wins can’t have been what Georgia fans had in mind when Smart was hired away from Nick Saban’s staff during the offseason.
Saturday’s game will pit the Bulldogs against a red-hot Auburn team, which is in the middle of a six-game win streak. Playing in front of a full Sanford Stadium is worst-case scenario for going against the No. 9 team in the nation, one picked to finish behind the Bulldogs in the preseason. If Georgia gets crushed, it will only make Smart look that much worse.
Gain: Derek Mason
Vanderbilt at Missouri – 3:30 p.m. Saturday (SEC Network)
Vanderbilt struggled early in the year, but luckily had the weak SEC East to fall back on. The Commodores are 2-2 in their last four and have been within a touchdown in all of their SEC losses this season. After a series of injuries across the conference, Vanderbilt is in a great spot with only three games left.
Saturday’s game is a big opportunity for Mason to get to five wins, which would be the most wins in the Vandy coach’s career. Vanderbilt has a Chad Kelly-less Ole Miss and undermanned Tennessee left on the schedule. If the Commodores can pull an upset in either of those games, it would be enough to push Derek Mason to his first bowl game.