Ole Miss (4-5, 1-4) at Tennessee (3-6, 0-5), Noon ET
How’d CBS get stuck with this one? This is supposedly the fourth-best game of the week? Yowzers.
Tennessee fans have their arms impatiently crossed, tapping their feet. All the Derek Dooley one-liners in the world can’t fill the void of a winless SEC season. Starting 0–5 in the SEC is no bueno, even if Conan is delivering the jokes.
Ole Miss, in Knoxville, presents the best opportunity of the season so far for an SEC win. (At least until Vanderbilt.) It had to feel good for the Vols to beat up on someone, anyone, last week in Memphis. But a 50–14 win against one of the worst teams in the country will not cure the SEC ills.
The Rebels have a little speed on offense that will give UT fits. But watch Vols quarterback Tyler Bray, all 185 pounds of him, as he continues to grow into his role (and body).
Player to Watch: Denarius Moore, Tennessee WR. Scorched South Carolina’s secondary two weeks ago. Ole Miss’ might be worse.
Vanderbilt (2-7, 1-5) at Kentucky (5-5, 1-5), 12:21 p.m. ET
TV: SEC Network
Good thing for the non-conference schedule, eh Kentucky? Wins against Louisville, Western Kentucky, Akron and Charleston Southern — plus one late rally against South Carolina — have the Wildcats in position for bowl eligibility, with a victory against either Vanderbilt or Tennessee.
Bet on the former. The Commodores have been coming apart for weeks, unraveled even more by the loss last week of Zac Stacy. He’s the team’s backup running back, playing in the place of Warren Norman, lost for the year after dislocating his wrist.
Getting to six wins should be a breeze for UK. Now, can it get to seven, causing all the demons surrounding the UT series to scurry?
Player to Watch: Randall Cobb, Kentucky WR. Been a while since he had a monster game, hasn’t it? That’s what Vandy’s good for, correct?
Georgia (5-5, 3-4) at No. 2 Auburn (10-0, 6-0), 2:30 p.m., CT
This Cameron Newton fellow seems to be in the news quite often lately. He already was, but it was pertaining to his play. Now the headlines relate to whether he’s eligible to play. What a captivating character in college football.
The NCAA is about all that can stop Newton this season. He has roughly 400 more yards than Tim Tebow had in his Heisman season, even if the TDs aren’t quite level (42-34) through 10 games. Newton has one definite advantage that Tebow didn’t: Auburn is 10–0 through 10; the Gators were 7–3.
Don’t be at all surprised if this off-field firestorm only works to further inspire an incredibly talented kid. He might have to give it all back one day — might — but that doesn’t stop what’s happening right this second.
It’s a fun thought that Georgia would hang around, but Newton wills the Tigers to be undefeated headed into the Iron Bowl.
OK, what we know about UTEP: This is where Mike Price wound up. The Miners are bowl-eligible. Donald Buckram was one of college football’s leading rushers a year ago, having run for nearly 1,600 yards. Injuries have derailed Buckram’s senior season. He has just 70 carries and 316 yards, with a single-game high of 81 yards.
Arkansas looked like the best team in the league last week, with one of the top performances this season. The defense, holding South Carolina to 10 points in minutes that mattered, showed it has made steps this season. It was physical and sure in its tackling. Best-kept secret in the South: The Hogs have a lot more than Ryan Mallett. (But he’s good, also.)
Don’t let UTEP’s six wins (Arkansas-Pine Bluff, New Mexico State, Memphis, New Mexico, Rice, SMU) fool you. This team is fully prepared to get dominated.
Player to Watch: Knile Davis, Arkansas RB. Davis has run well lately. Let him go, run the clock. Get to Mississippi State and LSU.
Louisiana-Monroe (4-5) at No. 5 Louisiana State (8-1), 6 p.m. CT
After Saturday, Louisiana-Monroe will have played as many SEC West games as the SEC East teams. Isn’t that a bit excessive? Even the East teams don’t want to play the West. ULM would probably be in a bowl game if not for that intense scheduling.
This is the first of three games that could lead to a very interesting scenario for LSU. At 11–1, with only a loss to Auburn, would LSU get national championship game consideration? That’s still a long way off. For now, it’s about continuing offensive success. Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee, and especially Jefferson, played well last week against Alabama. LSU fans would love to see more of that before Ole Miss and Arkansas close out the season.
Player to Watch: Les Miles, LSU coach. Not a player, but gosh he’s fascinating.
No. 17 Mississippi State (7-2, 3-2) at No. 11 Alabama (7-2, 4-2), 6:15 p.m. CT
An ESPN analyst continues to say this is Mississippi State’s “Super Bowl.” No, that was Florida. (And it won.) This is its “Pro Bowl,” we’ll say. (Are we the only ones daydreaming about that game at Auburn next season, by the way? Wow. Lot of power packed into that one, huh?)
Curious to see how Alabama responds to losing its second game. Greg McElroy called it the “end of the world.” So, what happens after that? Guess none of us know, really. The Tide is equipped, in terms of talent. But will the team’s minds stick with it?
Mississippi State is a hungry bunch. Beyond all the Newton news, don’t forget this is the Bulldogs’ first time back on the field since teammate Nick Bell died last week after a brief fight with cancer. Expect that to be MSU’s motivations in what would be yet another signature win for Dan Mullen’s early tenure.
Player to Watch: Vick Ballard, Mississippi State RB. His 12 TDs are actually the most of a running back in the league. Ball control is clearly a key to the Bulldogs’ success.
No. 22 South Carolina (6-3, 4-3) at No. 24 Florida (6-3, 4-3), 7:15 p.m. ET
What a strange road to get here for these two teams. Florida’s used to already having the East wrapped up by now, having won a record 10 division titles since the split. South Carolina, meanwhile, isn’t used to having this shot. It happened only one other time, a decade ago, and the Gators had to erase an early deficit to escape the Gamecocks in 2000.
That game was in Gainesville. So is this one. That’s a huge deal, although it bears mentioning that some of the mystique seems to have temporarily vacated the Swamp. Florida has already lost two at home this season, to LSU and Mississippi State. And then there’s Urban Meyer this week, begging fans to be “out of control” and to wear all blue. Since when is Florida a school that has to resort to ridiculous fashion gimmicks? Just play ball.
South Carolina actually might be the more talented team, which feels bizarre to say, but will it behave like the more talented team? A knee injury, in part, caused Marcus Lattimore to have a forgettable night last week against Arkansas (season-low 30 yards), but he’s far from alone. Only receiver Alshon Jeffery (99 yards) could be singled out as having a decent night against the Razorbacks. The 41–20 loss was exceptionally bad.
You’ll know by the end of the first quarter who wins the game. If South Carolina shows up — even if it doesn’t have the lead, meaning, if it’s tied or close — it’ll win. In a season of the unexpected, why not have the Gamecocks become the fourth team to win the East?
Player to Watch: Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina RB. The Gamecocks have to be able to run the ball. Maybe Lattimore makes his impact catching passes out of the backfield, too.
Florida (5-3, 3-3) at Vanderbilt (2-6, 1-4), 12:21 p.m., ET
TV: SEC Network
A subtly huge game, even though the Gators should roll. Be interesting to see how Florida responds after a very draining experience last week against Georgia, just squeaking past the Bulldogs in overtime. Good thing for Florida the South Carolina game — what figures to be the SEC East title game — isn’t this weekend.
As it is, the Gators get the closest thing there is to a bye week in SEC play, although note that Florida at least has to go on the road. Urban Meyer seemed to find something with the usage of three quarterbacks, also incorporating Jordan Reed, along with John Brantley and Trey Burton. Really, it’s about locating a balance between Brantley, who was still very average, and Burton, who was again dynamic and did complete two passes.
It’s hardly a work of art, but the Florida offense might be sufficient to manage two more wins — and then get clobbered by the West winner in Atlanta.
As for Vanderbilt, things got even worse with the news that running back Warren Norman is out for the season, following wrist surgery. Robbie Caldwell’s got his work cut out for him keeping his team glued together. Then again, it shouldn’t be anything for a man who’s dabbled in turkey insemination. The state title is still out there for the Commodores.
Player to Watch: Jordan Reed, Florida RB/TE. Let’s see how Reed is used this week, or if the tricks remain shelved for the Gamecocks.
Idaho State (1-7, 0-6) at Georgia (4-5, 3-4), 12:30 p.m., ET TV: PPV/local affiliates
How did Idaho State wind up on the Bulldogs’ schedule, exactly? Wait, we don’t even want to know. Georgia doesn’t, either. It’ll take a victory in any shape and form. As its only FCS opponent, Idaho State will count toward getting the Bulldogs bowl-eligible, which still is no guarantee considering Auburn and Georgia Tech close out the regular season.
Todd Grantham shouldn’t have to break out the choke sign for the — wait a sec, got to look up what Idaho State’s mascot is — Bengals. This is a chance for Georgia to brush itself off, after last week’s crumble at the end, and prepare for two incredibly important November games. Aaron Murray needs to play like the dude in the fourth quarter against Florida — not the first, and overtime.
Player to Watch: Justin Houston, LB. This guy’s going to wind up leading the SEC in sacks, likely aided by this game.
Charleston Southern (2-6) at Kentucky (4-5), 12:30 p.m., ET
Detecting a theme, with the pay-per-view games? There are some clunkers on the conference’s slate this week. Everybody’s prepping for November with a pseudo-open date, it seems. The Buccaneers have already been lambs-to-the-slaughter in Hawaii. But, you know, that was in Hawaii. The Bluegrass gets some frost on it about this time of year. And it’s expected to be quite chilly for a team from temperate North Charleston, S.C. Yes, that’s right. Charleston Southern, directionally confused, is in North Charleston.
Oh, right, the game. Kentucky was a play away from tying the game last week at Mississippi State. Then again, the Wildcats are an incompletion away from winless in the SEC. Just keep motoring, if you’re Joker’s boys, and hope for a bowl in a strange, strange season in which Randall Cobb called out the fanbase — after the season’s biggest win.
Player to Watch: Derrick Locke, Kentucky RB. This is the longest time ever missed for a stinger in human history. The Wildcats will not need him this week, but they will the rest of November if they would like a postseason.
Chattanooga (5-3) at No. 3 Auburn (9-0), 1:00 p.m., ET TV: PPV
This is the only game we recommend forking over the pay-per-view bucks for. Cam Newton is worth the price of visual admission, regardless of the opponent.
Chattanooga isn’t an abysmal team in the Southern Conference, at least not compared to the other FCS schlubs listed above. But the Mocs are clearly not on Auburn’s level. Not even if alum Terrell Owens showed up.
Here’s a chance, though, for Auburn’s defense to tighten up a bit. That’ll be necessarily for those two remaining tests, Georgia and at Alabama, if the Tigers really are interested in winning an SEC (or national) title.
Player to Watch: Cam Newton, Auburn WR. He’s a receiver now, apparently. Let’s see if he dabbles at safety or kicking off this week. Has there been a more valuable player to his team in recent memory? He’s a bigger team MVP than even Tim Tebow.
No. 5 Alabama at No. 12 Louisiana State, 3:30 p.m., ET
Team plays close with Auburn at Auburn, but loses. Has the following week off. Hosts Alabama the next week. That’s the scenario unfolding for LSU, and it should sound familiar. It was the very same formula for South Carolina, leading into the Gamecocks’ upset of the Tide.
Here are some reasons why that will not happen:
• It already happened once. Lightning doesn’t seem to strike twice on Nick Saban’s watch.
• The Tide hasn’t been playing all that well. Even if it did distance itself from Tennessee, it was a close game at the half. Ole Miss was a wash. Really, Bama hasn’t been Bama since going all “Swamp People” on the Gators. Here’s a chance to make a statement.
• LSU’s offense isn’t nearly as good as South Carolina’s. There’s no one nearly as dynamic as Marcus Lattimore or Alshon Jeffery on LSU’s sideline. Weird as it is to say, the Tigers would have a decent chance to win, if only they had Stephen Garcia as their QB.
Some really believe Alabama is still going to play for the SEC title and end up in a BCS bowl. We’ll buy. Look for a determined Tide team coming off its bye.
Player to Watch: Mark Ingram, Alabama RB. Remember him? It’s about time he broke out, even against a staunch D.
Louisiana-Lafayette (2-6) at Ole Miss (3-5), 7 p.m., ET
God bless you, Louisiana-Lafayette. You all are 0–36 all-time against the SEC, but you still keep trying. We’re sure the paychecks aren’t terrible consolation prizes, but they’re still not getting the program to an SEC level, it seems. The Cajuns supplied one of the season’s more surprising results, somehow losing 54–21 — at home — to a Western Kentucky team that had lost 26 straight games, the longest streak in all divisions at that time.
The Rebels already lost one of these games this season, the opener against Jacksonville State (which might be better than Ooh-La-La, even though it’s a class down). So, in short, don’t expect it to happen again. Some pundits were picking the Rebels to dethrone Auburn a week ago. Let’s not get carried away. At the very least, can Houston Nutt bring back those silver unis? Those were sharp.
Player to Watch: Jesse Grandy, Ole Miss WR. Get the ball in his hands. This guy’s got some speed to him.
Arkansas (6-2, 3-2) at South Carolina (6-2, 4-2), 7 p.m., ET TV: ESPN
Ah, the other game in the league this week. Odd spot for the Gamecocks, who can win the division, with or without this game. You wouldn’t have figured in August, or even a month ago, that would be the case.
Hindsight’s not 20-20 in the Gamecocks’ case. It just gives them a terrible headache. With one play going differently at Kentucky — the Wildcats’ only SEC win, to date — the Gamecocks would have two shots at the division. Instead, this week is moot in that discussion and it’s only a prelude to the Swamp. But South Carolina has adamantly said this week that Arkansas still means a great deal to the team. In that respect, both teams are playing for the same thing. With identical records, the Gamecocks and Razorbacks are fighting for similar bowl fates. So, head to head will come into play in early December, in that regard.
Ryan Mallett completed 23-of-27 passes, including 12-of-13 in the second half, as the Hogs rattled off 23 straight points to beat the Gamecocks a year ago. This time, South Carolina is giving up a league-worst 259.9 passing yards a game. And it lost a senior corner, Chris Culliver, for the season. Not a good recipe to stem an explosive passing offense.
The Gamecocks’ only hope is to outscore the Hogs, leaning on Lattimore (especially to control the clock) and Jeffery (Arkansas’ defense isn’t anything special, either). That, and Razorbacks top receiver Greg Childs is done for the year. These teams stack up evenly. With that in mind, don’t ignore the fact that South Carolina has won 13 of 14 at home, with the only loss coming to then-No. 1 Florida last November. But the Gamecocks have come unglued in Novembers past.
In short, who freaking knows what’s going to happen in this game?
Player to Watch: Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina RB. He might be the Gamecocks’ best defense, keeping Mallett off the field. Lattimore had a season-best 184 yards last week against Tennessee.
Tennessee (2-6) at Memphis (1-7), 7 p.m., CT TV: CBS College Sports
Memphis is purported to be one of the worst college football teams in America. Backing that up is the fact that the Tigers are 18-point home underdogs to Tennessee — something that even caught Vols first-year coach Derek Dooley off guard earlier in the week.
Tennessee did manage to do some things right, even in the second half, at South Carolina last week. The decision to go with Tyler Bray in the second half might have rankled Matt Simms (he’s since apologized), but it was the right move. Ahem, even after he threw a pick six immediately upon entering the game.
Bray rebounded enough, though, to get the nod this week. Denarius Moore showed last week he could get behind South Carolina’s defensive backs. So that lends evidence that he might be able to sneak past Memphis’ secondary, as well.
Mentioned this about Vanderbilt, but the state title is still out there for the Vols. Small steps, small victories for Dooley’s Vols.
Player to Watch: Denarius Moore, Tennessee WR. A nod for that 228-yard day last week in Columbia. Few more times out like that, and he might net himself a look to play on Sundays.
Lattimore set a personal high with 184 yards rushing.
If you were circling games on South Carolina’s schedule in August, determining importance, this Saturday’s game against Arkansas would’ve ranked highly. But it’s an odd position the Gamecocks find themselves in entering the season’s final month: Arkansas (likely) means nothing in the SEC race. Go figure.
Win or lose this week, the Florida-South Carolina winner on Nov. 13 will play in Atlanta. That’s right: If the Ball Coach wants to finally take his team to the title game, he’ll have to win in Gainesville for the first time with a team on the visitors’ sideline.
Of course, one scenario would alter all this. But Spurrier isn’t exactly expecting it to play out. He laughed at a reporter who asked him what it would be like to wrap up the East on Saturday. “So,” Spurrier hooted, “you’re telling me Vanderbilt is going to beat Florida?”
Not happening. Swamp, it is.
The Gamecocks didn’t play particularly well against Tennessee. But the Gamecocks might’ve lost — or come very close to losing — that game in the past. This season is at least different because of the ability to turn to, gasp, playmakers. Alshon Jeffery had a 12-yard catch that he turned into a 70-yard touchdown, flashing what he calls “game speed.” That was the game-winner, with 12 minutes and change to go.
Then the Gamecocks turned to a horse of a running back — Derek Dooley actually called freshman Marcus Lattimore “Secretariat”; his high school teammates called him “the Horse” — for the final minutes. Lattimore had runs of 40 and 19 yards on the final touchdown drive, on the way to a season-high 184 yards.
Will those playmakers be the difference-makers in the Swamp? Oh, that’s right. Arkansas is first.
South Carolina 38, Tennessee 24
Florida 34, Georgia 31 (ot)
Auburn 51, Ole Miss 31
Arkansas 49, Vanderbilt 14
Mississippi State 24, Kentucky 17
• Florida’s coaches have been maligned in this web space, as well as countless other places. So, give the Gators credit for throwing pretty much everything they had at Georgia to get a big lead. Play two quarterbacks? That’s for amateurs. How about three?
John Brantley’s line — 16-for-25 for 193 yards and a pick — was pedestrian, but Trey Burton (2-for-2 throwing; 110 rush yards) and Jordan Reed (three carries, 19 yards) will give future D-coordinators pause.
Maybe the Bulldogs’ secondary is still leaky, but it appeared the Gators were finally capable of a few downfield plays. Omarius Hines, Frankie Hammond Jr., Deonte Thompson … where have you been?
• Yeah, Auburn played well to win by 20 at Ole Miss. But why were national pundits so impressed with the victory? Because many of them foolishly picked the Rebels to win the game? C’mon, that wasn’t going to happen. Maybe if Ole Miss and Mississippi State merged, to form Magnolia State University.
Auburn plays very little defense. Ole Miss plays less. Advantage, Cam Newton. Newton ran for only 45 yards, but still leads the league in rushing by about 20 yards per game. He's been that good. He threw more in this one and even caught a score. Soon, he'll be kicking extra points.
• Note to Dan Mullen: Quit now and run for governor. Run on the “I Win” ticket. Mullen’s Mississippi State team has now reeled off six in a row Saturday against Kentucky — after the Bulldogs won five games all of last season. And a 17–14 loss to Auburn back in September? That’s looking more and more like a win all the time. The Bulldogs have a bunch of good players, but nothing incredible.
Mullen’s got to get some nods for SEC coach of the year — especially if the Bulldogs can do the unthinkable and topple Bama in two weeks. He's doing the most with the least. Even Gene Chizik would agree with that.
• Tennessee isn’t a very good football team. Don’t believe it? Dooley and the Vols will tell you. One Vol — a defensive player, no less — said he was pleased to score more than 10 points at South Carolina. He thought that was progress. Heck, maybe it was. Hey, Denarius Moore looked good — 228 yards for the senior receiver (most by any FBS player this season). Wait, he’s a senior? Where’s Moore been for three years? Tennessee might have found a quarterback. Stick-figure freshman Tyler Bray (6-6, 175 pounds?) had some decent moments on the road in the SEC. Well, after throwing a pick six.
• Please explain why Arkansas receiver Greg Childs — the same Greg Childs who almost didn’t play because of an ankle injury — was playing in the fourth quarter of a blowout against Vanderbilt? (It was the widest margin of victory in a Bobby Petrino win at Arkansas). The greed, stubbornness or indifference resulted in the Hogs’ top receiver injuring his knee. Now he might not be available this week against South Carolina. Clearly not helpful. In addition, Joe Adams (ankle) isn’t 100 percent. He had to sit last week against the Commodores.
• What was Georgia thinking in overtime? All right, Aaron Murray made some nice plays and throws to get the Bulldogs back in the game. But his final touchdown to A.J. Green appeared to be rather fortunate. So, then you turn the keys over to him in overtime? Murray nearly throws an interception on first down, missing on the corner-route throw in one-on-one coverage. Then, on third down, he throws off his back foot into the middle of the field, praying that Green will save him. Maybe that’s just the curse of having a franchise-type receiver. You lean too hard. But don’t be afraid to call for some safer routes, play-callers — especially when Orson Charles is the one that primarily helped you back into the game. Where was he in OT?
• It’s getting old writing this, but South Carolina’s pass defense stinks. For a team that’s flirting with a division title, it’s a major, major problem. And a huge issue considering Ryan Mallett — regardless of what receivers are healthy — is coming to town. Chris Culliver is hurt and likely done for the season. Let’s see what the Gamecocks do from here. Switching to more man coverage didn't really fix anything. Tennessee became the third team in four weeks to throw for 300 yards against the Gamecocks. Your turn, Mr. Mallett.
Stud of the Week
Cam Newton, Auburn QB. He caught a TD pass this week. That’s new.
Dud of the Week
Matt Simms, Tennessee QB. Yes, it sucks you were removed as quarterback. But the crybaby routine to the media will not do you any favors, pal.
Lattimore will be back on the field this Saturday.
Tennessee (2–5, 0–4) at No. 17 South Carolina (5–2, 3–2), 12:21 p.m. CT TV: SEC Network
Holy role reversal. Typically, it’s Tennessee hanging around in the SEC race and South Carolina treading water (OK, maybe not this badly). But it’s at least rare — in fact it hasn’t happened — that the Volunteers are the easiest conference opponent for the division-leading Gamecocks.
Tennessee has managed to hang around for some first halves this season against good teams, like last week against Alabama and Oregon earlier in the year, but you’ve got to figure they’ll eventually run out of steam for even that. Maybe now? Injuries and suspensions have really stripped down this team to Derek Dooley’s Comedy Tour. You almost want the presumed blowout to be worse, just to see what Dooley says next.
The Vols couldn’t cover Julio Jones (221 yards) last week. They will not be able to cover Alshon Jeffery (121.1 yards a game), either. That’s not even taking into account South Carolina’s emerging run game, with Marcus Lattimore (89.7 ypg) back from a gimpy ankle.
Player to Watch: Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina RB. Almost like a midseason breather last week for Lattimore. Expect him to come back strong.
Florida (4–3, 2–3) vs. Georgia (4–4, 3–3), 3:30 p.m. ET TV: CBS
Any other season, and neither of these teams would be in the East mix at this point. But, then again, they’re the teams who have won all but two of the division titles this decade. So, we’re just not accustomed to this mediocrity from the division, as a whole.
But, in reality, this is an East Division elimination game. Georgia has won three in a row; Florida has lost three straight. The Gators, as you know, have dominated this series in recent years. What gives in this one?
Seven games it, it seems apparent that Florida’s offense will simply not click this season. We’ve given up on it. Given the personnel and stubborn coaching philosophy, it will never get going. And, as most expected, Georgia’s defense has settled in pretty nicely with that 3-4. Linebacker Justin Houston is putting together an all-SEC season without much fanfare.
Aaron Murray, A.J. Green and Washaun Ealey? Georgia just has more weaponry than Florida. Been a long time since you could say that. Like, since the 1980s?
Player to Watch: Chris Rainey, Florida RB/WR. Is he really going to play? If he does, will he make a difference?
No. 3 Auburn (8–0, 5–0) at Ole Miss (3–4, 1–3), 5 p.m. CT TV: ESPN2
The key there is the word “at.” See how Auburn is to the left of that word? That means it’s playing a rare away game. The Tigers — now the new No. 1 in the BCS — play only four games away from Jordan-Hare. This week’s game at Ole Miss is the third (Alabama is the fourth). The first two? Three-point wins at Mississippi State and Kentucky.
As you see, it hasn’t been easy. Then again, many of Auburn’s games, even the home ones, haven’t been easy. Ole Miss could test the Tigers, but the Rebels don’t have enough ammo for four quarters. And, true to every week’s outlook, Ole Miss has no one to stop Cameron Newton. He’ll do to the Rebs what he’s done to everyone, taking over the game late.
Player to Watch: Cam Newton, Auburn QB. Why not?
Kentucky (4–4, 1–4) at No. 23 Mississippi State (6–2, 2–2), 6 p.m. CT TV: ESPNU
Remember when people thought Kentucky was a legitimate division contender? Oh, right, that was last week. At 1–4, Joker Phillips has acknowledged the Wildcats are now interested in the best available bowl. That’ll first require two more victories. Charleston Southern is one. Vanderbilt is a definite possibility for two. How much would Kentucky like to beat Spurrier and Tennessee in one season?
A bowl game is on Mississippi State’s mind, as well. The Bulldogs would love to go to one in Dan Mullen’s second year after narrowly missing one a season ago. And they will after getting past a Kentucky team that has no defense and is still missing Derrick Locke.
Player to Watch: Derrick Locke, Kentucky RB. Point blank: Locke (shoulder) has to play for the Wildcats to have a chance. But that doesn’t seem likely.
Sort of like South Carolina with Lattimore a week ago, Arkansas will likely be careful this week with a couple of its most important offensive players, receivers Greg Childs and Joe Adams. Both have ankle injuries, like Lattimore. The Razorbacks can get by without their top two receivers against Vandy.
The Hogs would love for Ryan Mallett, who’s nursing a bruised shoulder himself, to get a chance to watch some in the second half. This has been a physically taxing season already for Mallett, who needs to be healthy for the tests ahead, against South Carolina, Mississippi State and LSU.
Player to Watch: Knile Davis, Arkansas RB. Davis and the run game got going a week ago against Ole Miss (176 yards, three TDs). Could be a similar story this week.
Cam Newton’s impact is only more measurable in one place than Auburn: Gainesville. Sure, Florida would love to roll its eyes and say it doesn’t need Newton’s services as a run-first — second, third and fourth, too — quarterback. But it does. Oh, it does.
Auburn’s 8–0 record, No. 1 spot in the new BCS standings and Newton’s SEC-leading 122.9 rush yards a game speak deafening volumes in the swamps of north Florida. It’s not so much jealousy as what-ifs for the Gators, who still are far from out of it in the SEC East race — even without Newton.
Just imagine if Florida and Auburn meet in Atlanta, and it’s still distinctly possible. Actually, it’s probably something the Gators would rather not think about, given what Newton’s doing to the rest of the league.
How does Newton continue to do it, even with teams knowing precisely what Auburn’s plan is? Newton has averaged 194.8 rushing yards in the Tigers’ past four SEC games — all wins, obviously. He’s special. No one knows it more than the coaches who initially recruited and signed him.
Arkansas 38, Ole Miss 24
Auburn 24, LSU 17
South Carolina 21, Vanderbilt 7
Mississippi State 29, UAB 24
Alabama 41, Tennessee 10
Georgia 44, Kentucky 31
• ESPN’s “College GameDay” crew said fervently Saturday that Georgia was its favorite to win the SEC East. Difficult to argue based on how the Bulldogs have played to get back to 3–3 in the league, blistering Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The road, though, gets tougher. To finish 5–3 and have a realistic shot, the Bulldogs have to beat Florida this week in Jacksonville and then Auburn (in Auburn) on Nov. 13. Even that’s no guarantee, requiring a couple of slip-ups by South Carolina. Think just how tough it is for a team to win five consecutive conference games, even if it is in the wide-open East. The Bulldogs are playing well, no question, but that well?
• South Carolina’s Brian Maddox said he was “devastated” after he was passed over to start Saturday in place of injured running back Marcus Lattimore. He was saying even more intense things behind closed doors. Maddox took out the aggression in a positive fashion, running for a career-high 146 yards to help the Gamecocks get their first SEC road win since 2008, a 21–7 victory at Vanderbilt. Vandy might not be special, but South Carolina needed to leave that monkey in the Music City. Lattimore is expected back for Tennessee this week.
• Florida didn’t play. So it couldn’t lose. And Steve Addazio is still drawing a paycheck.
• LSU finally lost a game that went into the final minutes, but it had nothing to do with faulty clock management. Imagine that. Know who earned some respect with the way it played down the stretch? An Auburn defense that’s been criticized to no end in 2010. LSU is far from the most proficient offense in the league, but Auburn held it to 243 total yards — including 39 on a trick-play TD pass. Maybe Auburn has enough defense to play for a national title? Don’t bet on it based on that week alone, but stay tuned in November. Remember that Gene Chizik is a defensive-oriented mind.
The Bulldogs barely escaped
• What is it with UAB catching SEC opponents on their heels? Something about Neil Calloway, a former Georgia assistant, knowing the league? Mississippi State, a week removed from winning in the Swamp, did just enough to escape an offsetting loss to the Blazers. Trap games and letdowns are real, people. Doesn’t matter who you are. Quite the racket UAB’s running. Just hasn’t quite finished the deal.
• Is there anything to help Derek Dooley catch Tennessee’s fall? Everyone on our fair planet knows the Volunteers aren’t very good. Despite the effort to cling close to Alabama, it got ugly in the Tide’s 41–10 win. You do wonder what kind of season this would be if the Vols had just managed to hold on at LSU. Maybe not altogether different, but Dooley and his team are left searching for something positive for the future.
• Arkansas and Ole Miss didn’t appear to even care much once their game resumed for the 13th time Saturday. Consistently delayed by lightning, it appeared for a spell as if the game would last until November. Credit the Hogs with staying up, enough for a 38–24 victory. Discredit Mother Nature for turning an 11:21 a.m. local kickoff into a deadline game for local writers.
• Vanderbilt’s offense is humorously bad. Despite South Carolina saying it made no adjustments at the half, the Gamecocks stopped the Commodores to the tune of 70 yards and three first downs in the second half. The Dores were 0 for 8 on third downs in the final two quarters. Larry Smith is highly inaccurate, and the coaches abandoned the one thing that looked effective against the Gamecocks: the option. Where’s Robbie Caldwell taking this program? The comedy club?
Stud of the Week
Cam Newton, Auburn QB. Once more, he’s the player of the week until he’s dethroned. If Newton can do it against LSU, he can do it against anyone in the league. He managed only 86 passing yards against the Tigers. Who cares? He ran for 217 of Auburn’s staggering 440 rushing yards.
Dud of the Week
LSU quarterbacks. Les Miles might want to revisit saying last week that Newton would be his third quarterback. Nice attempt at pumping up Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee, but who are you kidding? These guys haven’t developed much in a healthy amount of time on campus. That’s on your coaching — and recruiting.
Chizik's Tigers will face thier biggest test on Saturday.
Ole Miss (3-3, 1-2) at No. 21 Arkansas (4-2, 1-2)
11:21 p.m., CT, TV: SEC Network
Difficult to believe the teams have the same SEC records. Arkansas almost deserves a mulligan or two, having hung in – but fallen – to Alabama and Auburn. Ryan Mallett bounced back pretty quickly (too quickly?) from his concussion and should be ready to get the Hogs back to .500 in the league.
Ole Miss has played better the past three weeks, but, realistically, it can only hope to hang in the same way it did a week ago at Alabama. You know, honestly, Arkansas hasn’t had a thorough performance all season. Not against anyone of relevance. Seven-point wins against Georgia and Texas A&M are far from impressive, in addition to the losses to Alabama and Auburn. Here’s a chance for a quasi-quality win. Those still count when it comes time for bowl recognition.
Player to Watch: Ryan Mallett, Arkansas QB. The quick recovery from the concussion is impressive - we think - but is he really back? Or will he see little Troy Aikmans flying around the field?
No. 6 Louisiana State (7-0, 4-0) at No. 5 Auburn (7-0, 4-0)
2:30 p.m., CT, TV: CBS
Congrats, LSU, for making it this far. One question: How’d you do it? Bad news for the Tigers and Les Miles is they’ve got Auburn, Alabama and Arkansas among their final four conference games. Hint: You can’t beat those teams by putting chips on red or black. Sorry to disappoint.
John Chavis has formed a formidable defense for LSU, but not one prepared for Cam Newton. Truth: What defense is? Newton just seems to show up every week, no matter the opponent. You halfway expect him to run for 187 yards against the AFC All-Pro Team. Heck, maybe he would.
Is there any way the Hat can hang around for another fourth-quarter miracle? Auburn likes playing games that last into the final quarter – but it likes winning them convincingly. Look for a Miles fake field goal call on the first possession.
Player to Watch: Cam Newton, Auburn QB. He’s been the guy to watch. He will be this week. He’ll cement his case for a Heisman against another top-five opponent. He’s already our pick for the award – and we’ve got a vote.
No. 19 South Carolina (4-2, 2-2) at Vanderbilt (2-4, 1-2)
6 p.m., CT, TV: FSN
The road doesn’t work out so hot for the Gamecocks, but games don’t work out so well for the Commodores. Quite the quandary. Someone has to come out ahead. Got to be the Gamecocks, who already spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons with the scarlet letter of losing to Vanderbilt.
Really, though, the Gamecocks’ offense is too good to bog like the ’07 and ’08 versions, even without Marcus Lattimore, who will sit because of an ankle injury. Stephen Garcia and Alshon Jeffery are due for a big road game. Why not Vanderbilt? Seems like a perfectly acceptable place for that to happen.
This is a crucial game for South Carolina’s passing defense, which is 110th in the country through six games. Despite returning experience and talent, the Gamecocks have really struggled in that area. Fortunately for South Carolina, Vanderbilt’s struggled even more throwing the ball (70 yards for Larry Smith at Vanderbilt). The Gamecocks are second in the country in sacks – and Vanderbilt’s allowed 15 this season.
Player to Watch: Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina CB. Gilmore had a bad day at the office last week, blowing the final coverage and dropping a punt. Time to make up for it for the All-SEC-level performer.
No. 7 Alabama (6-1, 3-1) at Tennessee (2-4, 0-3)
7 p.m., ET, TV: ESPN
This doesn’t seem fair. Can’t Derek Dooley get a head start before his first Third Saturday in October game? The first six games of the season don’t count.
There’s no way Alabama loses again in this regular season. At least until the final week, when Auburn comes to Tuscaloosa. The Tide got that whole business out of its system, even if that loss at South Carolina might’ve knocked it out of the national title equation. Tennessee will pay for such sins. The Volunteers plan on employing two quarterbacks this week, adding Tyler Bray in with Matt Simms. Yeah, that should fix everything.
Player to Watch: Mark Ingram, Alabama RB. About time he appears in a big way. He’ll make a run at this Heisman, yet, even if he doesn’t win it again.
UAB (2-4) at No. 24 Mississippi State (5-2)
6 p.m., CT, TV: ESPNU
The last time Neil Calloway and UAB went into an SEC stadium, things worked out pretty darned well. There were even reports of a moral victory parade by the Vulcan Statue. The Blazers ran up 544 yards and took Tennessee to double overtime before a fluky bowout in Neyland Stadium. (UAB deserved the win. Seriously.)
Mississippi State provides a far better challenge than the challenged Volunteers, but there’s also the letdown factor at play. Gamble that the Bulldogs’ play will sink after a landmark victory at Florida, even if the Gators aren’t the Gators you’re used to seeing. Even with the flat-lining moments, expect Dan Mullen to get just enough out of his guys to outplay UAB. They’ll become bowl-eligible before November, a terrific sign for a program on the rise.
Player to Watch: Josh Zahn, UAB K. Dude was 2 for 7 on field goals at Tennessee. If the Blazers have got any shot at all in this one, they’ll be in field-goal range – and Zahn has to be on.
Georgia (3-4, 2-3) at Kentucky (4-3, 1-3)
7:30 p.m., ET, TV: CSS
The Wildcats keep drawing the tough ones at home. Oh, wait, that’s good. Randall Cobb had us confused. Why not a third consecutive game to go to the final minutes? Of course, Kentucky would prefer not to have to furiously rally the way it has against Auburn and South Carolina. It ran out of fuel before it could pass Auburn, but it did manage to scoot past ailing South Carolina a week ago. Still difficult figuring out how the Gamecocks left Cobb, of all players, wide open on fourth down.
Georgia looks like a different football team, but so would a lot of teams after playing Tennessee and Vanderbilt. This is a tougher test than many might believe. Even without Derrick Locke, and it does appear UK will miss him again this week, Kentucky has enough firepower to stay with the improving Dawgs. Between Cobb and an emerging Mike Hartline, the Wildcats are equipped for a run at the division. What, you say? Although it might seem that UGA is the new contender in the East, bear in mind that UK, if it makes it through this week, still has Vandy and Tennessee down the line – plus that all-important tiebreaker with the Gamecocks.
Player to Watch: Mike Hartline, Kentucky QB. What a step Hartline took a week ago. How about another? Is he really the best pocket passer in the league, as South Carolina’s defensive coordinator asserted?
In the heart of a crazy season in the SEC, Steve Spurrier joked Sunday about a universal truth.
“Somebody’s going to represent the East in Atlanta,” Spurrier said, referring to the league’s championship game Dec. 4. “They’re not going to take two from the West.”
It’s almost as if the Ball Coach was working to convince himself. And why not? The one-liner came just hours after South Carolina saw a 28–10 halftime lead swallowed whole in the following two quarters at Kentucky, further throwing the Eastern Division into upheaval. (Like that needed more help.) The 31–28 Wildcats win left the Gamecocks at 4–2, 2–2 in the league — and still leading the East. Florida and Georgia are still chasing, at 2–3.
It’s difficult to fathom that the Gators and Bulldogs will have to play perfectly in their final three SEC games to avoid .500 finishes, or worse. Both can’t get to five SEC wins, of course, since they play one another in a couple of weeks.
Bottom line: Even after one of the more disastrous losses in recent memory, South Carolina still very much controls its destiny in the East.
Then there’s the West, where five of the division’s six teams are in this week’s AP poll. The fifth and final team, Mississippi State, would probably win the East.
Wasn’t long ago, not at all, that the East held all the cards. Florida’s fall, along with Nick Saban’s rise at Alabama, has shifted the power balance. That’s not even considering that the league’s final two unbeatens, Auburn and LSU, play this week to decide who is the SEC’s best shot at a national title contender.
Hang on. We’re only halfway home.
Georgia 43, Vanderbilt 0
Auburn 65, Arkansas 43
Kentucky 31, South Carolina 28
Mississippi State 10, Florida 7
LSU 32, McNeese State 10
Alabama 23, Ole Miss 10
• Tried to warn the Gators. Mississippi State’s a tough out, and it’s difficult to even imagine how much that game meant to Dan Mullen. To go back to the Swamp and take out his mentor, wow, what a way to stoke a program that already had a fire burning, dating back to last year’s Egg Bowl. The Bulldogs have quickly become the signature program in the state, but, at this rate, how long until you’re saying that about the West?
• One more Mississippi State note: How about new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz? Trumpeted as an up-and-comer, he’s met that expectation. With what you know now, how impressive is the fact that the Bulldogs held Auburn to 17 points? And then, this past week, they limited Florida to a single touchdown on its home field. That just doesn’t happen.
• You keep presuming that Auburn’s defense is going to get it into trouble, but not if Cam Newton and the offense put up basketball scores. Sixty-five points in an SEC game? You kidding? Gus Malzahn is clearly having a blast with his toy store of options. The Tigers managed eight touchdowns and 470 total yards without having freshman back Michael Dyer at 100 percent. LSU presents a different test altogether, however.
• Things certainly didn’t work out for Marcus Lattimore’s team, but you have to give South Carolina’s super freshman a nod after he tried to take Kentucky out by himself for a half. Lattimore had 201 total yards (133 receiving, 68 rushing) and three touchdowns in the first two quarters before an ankle injury knocked him out. The Gamecocks were not the same without him. They were alarmingly bad with Lattimore on the sideline.
• File Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett in this category, as well. It’s always a shame when top-tier players can’t finish pivotal games, and you have to wonder if Arkansas could’ve kept pace at Auburn with Mallett running things. Instead, after suffering a concussion, Mallett was watching.
• South Carolina returned virtually everyone to its secondary, but it’s been a major flaw so far for the Gamecocks. Hard to figure. The team’s passing D is currently 103rd in the country, giving up 255.2 passing yards per game. Greg McElroy set a career high for yardage last week for Alabama, and then Kentucky’s Mike Hartline did the same this week. McElroy had never even had a 300-yard game before. It all has to be deeply concerning for Ellis Johnson and his staff.
• It’s not just South Carolina’s defense. Arkansas’ supposedly improved unit was shredded for those 65 Auburn points. Kentucky’s defense finally picked it up, once Lattimore was out, but it might be one of the worst tackling defenses we’ve seen in years. At least Georgia, maligned earlier in the year, is showing improvement. It was a shutout of Vanderbilt, granted, but it was UGA’s first shutout since 2006.
• As much as Mississippi State deserves the credit, what in the name of Ron Zook is going on down in Gainesville? Urban Meyer and Steve Addazio are good buddies. Everyone knows that. But can’t some behind-the-scenes maneuvering be done to take the playsheet out of Addazio’s hands? The Gators have to do something to shake things up. Mississippi State only tried one pass in the second half. It was banking on the fact that Florida wouldn’t score. And it was right.
• Kentucky registered a huge win for the school, but it was sullied Sunday by the player who caught the game-winning touchdown. Randall Cobb might have been right when he lit into fans for failing to show up (on time or at all) and being critical of the team, but you just cannot say those things. Why was Cobb more concerned about the fans than enjoying the school’s first win against Spurrier in 18 tries? It was surprising to see that from Cobb, a pretty sharp kid in addition to a terrific talent.
Stud of the Week
Cam Newton, Auburn QB. Again, let’s just put this on loop. He does it every week. After 188 rushing yards, he’ll lead the league in that category another week. Another big one coming up.
Dud of the Week
South Carolina’s DBs. Even their coaches aren’t quite sure what’s going on. Never good — especially six games in. Most of the players back there are experienced. What gives?
Stephen Garcia led South Carolina's upset of top-ranked Alabama.
The Stephens at South Carolina deserve apologies. Both Stephen Garcia and Stephen Spurrier were told they couldn’t win a big game with the Gamecocks. Garcia’s in his fourth year at the school, Spurrier in his sixth. But they finally managed to make it happen (with some help).
If the Gamecocks had beaten No. 1 Alabama in any way — quirky turnover, fluke touchdown, etc. — it would’ve been incredible. But the way South Carolina manhandled the Tide in the 35–21 win is what you really take away from the weekend. Sure, Bama’s 19-game win streak is over. So it its 29-game regular-season win streak. But the Tide should be more concerned about some specific in-game details.
Things like Marcus Lattimore’s 93 rushing yards, the most against the Tide since Nov. 24, 2007. Things like the 35 points allowed, the most since earlier in that 2007 season. Things like Alabama’s 36 rushing yards, unthinkable considering Mark Ingram (41 yards) and Trent Richardson (23 yards) are in the same backfield.
Give the Stephens credit. Spurrier dialed up a great offensive gameplan, and Garcia executed it. Alshon Jeffery has made, and will continue to make, Garcia look good. But watch those throws again: They were on the mark. Garcia’s only interception was a ball Jeffery caught, bobbled and lost to a Bama defender. Nobody’s being too critical of Jeffery, though. He’s earned some slack.
South Carolina turned a corner with the win. It’s now the favorite in a very weak East.
The question’s still out there, though: Will the Gamecocks close? It hasn’t been their strong suit. Then again, neither has beating top-ranked teams. That had never happened before in the school’s history.
How about its first appearance in the SEC title game? You know Bama would love to see the Gamecocks again.
• Let’s give South Carolina another segment, here. Ellis Johnson’s defense was completely embarrassed at Auburn two weeks ago. Cam Newton was unstoppable most of the night, and the Tigers rolled up 334 rushing yards (492 overall). Johnson got his guys to believe it was a fluke, and they sure played like it against Alabama. Greg McElroy was sacked seven times and, as mentioned earlier, Ingram and Richardson were turned into non-factors. That just doesn’t happen.
• Kentucky lost to Auburn at the final horn, but Joker Phillips must be doing something right up there. After getting drilled at Florida and Ole Miss, the Wildcats could’ve folded down 31–14 in the second quarter to the Tigers. But they kicked a field goal before the break and Randall Cobb willed UK to a 31–31 tie after catching a score and running for another in the third quarter. As long as Kentucky has Cobb, it’ll have a shot.
• Mississippi State put up 47 points and 538 yards on Houston. Yes, it’s Houston, but the Bulldogs could use the confidence. Florida had better look out this week. This is Mississippi State’s Super Bowl, with Dan Mullen returning to Gainesville. The Bulldogs hung with Florida a year ago, and they’re better and the Gators are currently in an offensive crisis (see, below).
• Don’t really know what to make of LSU’s win at Florida. At face value, you have to credit the Tigers for getting a win, by whatever means necessary, in a very tough place to win. But then there’s the man who acknowledges his own nickname, the Mad Hatter. Les Miles’ fake field goal call in the final seconds was so dumb it was genius. The Tigers, with kicker Josh Jasper running, converted the first down and won. When does Miles’ luck run out? Does it?
• Could someone teach Counting 101 to Tennessee’s football team? Another week, another instance of the Volunteers playing something other than 11 on a play (or plays) during a game. After 13 on the game-losing play at LSU, the Vols had 10 in to block a Georgia field goal. (Same thing happened against UAB, earlier in the season.) That field goal didn’t make a difference, obviously, in Georgia’s 41–14 beatdown of Tennessee. But it is indicative of the consistent issues plaguing the team in Derek Dooley’s first season. The Vol Navy is a sinking ship.
• Officially halfway through its season, Florida’s offense is still a mess. The lack of an in-between-the-tackles runner is killing the Gators. John Brantley tried to play through injuries Saturday, too, and he’s yet to really take hold of the position the way many assumed. Then again, he’s still struggling to consistently get the snap from Mike Pouncey. At this rate, the wait for Florida’s offense to break out might last into the off-season. Frankly, the Gators are underachieving. There’s too much talent there for this to be the case, week in and week out. The offensive coaches, Urban Meyer included, aren’t getting the talent in the positions to succeed.
Stud of the Week
Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina WR
As we’ve said before, the guy is just flat-out uncoverable. A.J. Green and Julio Jones are terrific receivers, but Jeffery’s name belongs among them. Because, with 625 yards and four touchdowns in five games, he’s playing better than them right now. Oh, and his Gamecocks have already beaten both of their teams, even if Green didn’t suit up for Georgia.
Dud of the Week
Jim McElwain, Alabama offensive coordinator
You’ve got Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. Use them. You trailed big early, but that didn’t stop you at Arkansas. Ingram and Richardson combined for 17 carries at South Carolina, about half of what they should’ve had. Why would Bama choose to get away from what it does, until it absolutely has to?
Did that just happen? It was the instantaneous thought as you watched LSU flounder as only a Les Miles-coached team could in the final seconds of a tight ballgame. It was the thought, doubled, as you watched the Tigers get one more chance against Tennessee — and escape with a victory they hardly deserved.
And, yet again, it was the thought as you watched Miles attempt an explanation in his postgame news conference.
Miles supplied 10 or so minutes of unfiltered, uncensored color analysis of those final snaps. At no point did Miles come close to explaining what happened. We were all dumber for having listened to Miles. (Thank you, “Billy Madison.”)
He should trade in that giant bucket of an LSU cap for a clown hat.
Miles supplied dandies like this: “It wasn’t pretty, but damn it was fun.” And this: “The multiplicity of personnel …”
He said at one point LSU was “awkward at times.” Yes, Les, you are. Often, really.
The confounding thing is the Tigers are 5–0 — and have more SEC victories than any other team in the league, with three.
The train-wreck nature of this team, and specifically its coach, is mesmerizing. Inches from derailing, it managed to stay on the tracks without any help from its coach.
Miles, who periodically screamed during his news conference, said he called “bull(stuff)” on his own team after the game. The college football world, meanwhile, is calling it on Miles.
Nine times out of 10, the space above would be dedicated to what Alabama did to Florida. (Miles became the 10 percent exception.) But what the Tide did to the Gators certainly bears mentioning, clearly. This was supposed to be the conference’s premier game all season, and Alabama turned it into just another week.
The West is so far ahead of the East this season, it’s crazy. All the big, early games have gone the West’s way, and there’s no reason to believe that’ll change in the coming weeks. Alabama and Auburn appear to be on one heck of a collision course in late November. Bama didn’t even need to lean too heavily on its offense to beat Florida — and defense and special teams were supposedly the weak areas for the defending national champs.
On the upside for LSU, because there has to be some kind of positive to be found in a 5–0 team, Stevan Ridley has really carried the load despite teams knowing the Tigers aren’t especially effective putting the ball in the air. Ridley has been over 100 yards the past two weeks and three times this season. Again, that’s no small feat when people are trying to stop the run.
We dogged Ole Miss for a period of weeks, so it’s only fair to give credit now that the Rebels have punched the gas a bit, offensively. Ninety-seven points in two weeks is pretty impressive, regardless of the opponents, considering where the Rebs were. Is Ole Miss a world-beater? No. But it’s come a long way from the team that couldn’t score at home against Vanderbilt.
UGH-A. Just when it seemingly couldn’t get any worse, Colorado rallies past Georgia in Boulder. Did you think the Buffaloes had the players to make that happen? We sure didn’t. A.J. Green made a difference, but only enough of one for Georgia to stay in the game.
The Bulldogs are 1–4. That’s just stunning stuff nearly midway through the season. Where do they go from here? There’s too much talent for this to be a sub-.500 team. But what rights things in Athens, and especially for that defense? Got to keep harping on tackling and playing assignment football in the secondary. Far too many lapses, even against sub-par opponents. It’s well past ridiculous for the Dawgs.
Neglected in the end of that LSU-Tennessee fiasco is the fact that, if you’re the Volunteers, you obviously can’t put half of your available defensive players on the field at the same time. Just can’t do it, even if you were inadvertently baited by the Tigers. Then again, the Vols had 10 on the field a few times against UAB.
Seriously, though, Tennessee missed a real opportunity for a win it desperately needed. Those chances, on the road (and at LSU), don’t come along often.
Kentucky’s defense, to paraphrase Denny Green, is what we thought it was. The Wildcats finally faced some decent SEC offenses, and they’ve given up 48 and 42 in consecutive weeks. And it’s not as if Florida and Ole Miss have really proven consistent offensive forces this season. The secondary, particularly, is a mess.
Stud of the Week
Nick Saban, Alabama
Unprecedented to name a coach, but deserved. Look what Saban’s done, in short time, to distance the Tide from the rest of the league. Florida is second — and currently by 25 points.
Dud of the Week
Steve Addazio, Florida
Why not include another coach here? Baffling to see Addazio’s play-calling on the goal line to start the game. We all know Trey Burton is not Tim Tebow. We all know John Brantley is not Tim Tebow. We know those things. Right, Steve?