Tide's time at top in danger

Reviewing and previewing college football:

 

WHO'S HOT

ALABAMA: The Crimson Tide quietly have done a good job retaining the top spot in the polls while taking care of Southeastern Conference business. Now can they fend off their mightiest challenge in Florida?

WHO'S NOT

WILLIE MARTINEZ: Georgia fans want the defensive coordinator gone. Coach Mark Richt said he's not making any staff changes in the off-season. What do the big-money donors say?

THE PERFECT OPTION

Though it wasn't a conference game, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson stamped an emphatic exclamation point on his first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference, where he was named Coach of the Year. Johnson has won more games than any other first-year coach in Yellow Jackets history. Also, he became just the third Georgia Tech coach to defeat Georgia in his first year, joining John Heisman and Pepper Rodgers .

SO LONG, FAREWELL

Georgia junior quarterback Matthew Stafford and sophomore tailback Knowshon Moreno are expected to leave school early. So what happens if they do?

At quarterback, junior Joe Cox likely will take over and be the starter for his final season much like D.J. Shockley in 2005. Cox, the Old Spice Red Zone National High School Player of the Year his senior year at Independence High School (N.C.), is 11-for-15 passing for 151 yards and two touchdowns in limited action this season.

In the backfield, redshirt freshman Caleb King and freshman Richard Samuel will compete for the starting gig. Also, expect 2007 Georgia Player of the Year Washaun Ealey , a senior running back at Emanuel County Institute and Georgia verbal commitment, to compete for playing time.

GAMES TO WATCH

- Navy vs. Army, noon, Saturday (CBS-Ch. 12)

- ACC Championship: No. 18 Boston College vs. Virginia Tech, 1 p.m. (ABC-Ch. 6)

- SEC Championship: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Florida, 4 (CBS-Ch. 12)

- Big 12 Championship: No. 19 Missouri vs. No. 4 Oklahoma, 8 (ABC-Ch. 6)

RANKING THE BIG FOUR

1. Georgia Tech (9-3, 5-3 ACC). Chick-Fil-A Bowl officials would be fools not to take the Yellow Jackets.

2. Georgia (9-3, 6-2 SEC). The Bulldogs have allowed three or more teams to score 40 or more points for the first time since 1994; in Erk Russell 's 17-year tenure as defensive coordinator, opponents scored 40 or more points just once (45, Nebraska, 1969 Sun Bowl).

3. Clemson (7-5, 4-4 ACC). Give the Tigers credit for removing Dabo Swinney 's interim tag. His youth and passion are a needed fresh start for the program.

4. South Carolina (7-5, 4-4 SEC). Coach Steve Spurrier removed all the "Beat Clemson" signs around the school's sports office when he arrived in 2005. Maybe he should put them back up. He's 1-3 against Tommy Bowden and Swinney.

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