What we learned on the second Saturday in October:
1) It looks like the Egg Bowl — not the Iron Bowl —for the SEC West title: After watching Mississippi State thoroughly control Auburn (38-23) and Ole Miss just physically overpower Texas A&M (35-20) is there any doubt that they are the best two teams in the SEC West — and maybe the country? It appeared that the SEC West would come down to the final weekend between Auburn and Alabama. But based on the data we have to date, it looks like we had better mark our calendars for yet another big game in Oxford, Miss,. on Nov. 29.
Here is the rest of the schedule for the two Mississippi schools:
Ole Miss: Saturday vs. Tennessee; Oct. 25 at LSU; Nov. 1 vs. Auburn; Nov. 8 vs. Presbyterian; Nov. 22 at Arkansas; Nov. 29 vs. Miss. State.
Miss. State: Saturday (off); Oct. 25 at Kentucky; Nov. 1 vs. Arkansas; Nov. 8 vs. UT-Martin; Nov. 15 at Alabama; Nov. 22 vs. Vanderbilt; Nov. 29 at Ole Miss.
2) When is Will Muschamp going to catch a break? Florida thought they had a little spark when Treon Harris came off the bench to lead Florida to a 10-9 win at Tennessee on Oct. 4. But then Harris was suspended on sexual battery charges (later withdrawn) but did not play in the LSU game. During the game, Florida lost its leading rusher, Matt Jones, and the nation’s best cornerback (Vernon Hargreaves III) to injury. Florida was still in position to win but Tevin Brooke dropped an easy touchdown pass in the end zone and Florida had to settle for a tie at 27 with 1:49 left. Florida got the ball back and had a chance to win but Jeff Driskel threw a bad pass into coverage leading to a tipped ball and an interception. LSU kicked a 50-yard field goal with three seconds left to win. How do you blame any of that on the head coach?
3) That was Georgia’s best gut check on the road since 1986: Georgia’s 34-0 win at Missouri with Todd Gurley on suspension brought back memories of Georgia’s trip to Auburn in 1986. The Tigers were 8-1 and ranked No. 8 and thus Georgia was given no chance at beating Auburn, particularly after starting quarterback James Jackson did not make it back for the game after attending his grandmother’s funeral. But Wayne Johnson, as Nick Chubb did on Saturday, came off the bench and played the game of his life and Georgia won 20-16. That was the night that Auburn turned the water cannons on the Georgia fans who stormed the field and Tim Brando had this memorable interview with Coach Vince Dooley.
4) Don’t forget about Kentucky: Here is how you know Kentucky is a much better team. The Wildcats were flat and fell behind 14-3 to Louisiana-Monroe. Then the talent kicked in with a pair of big plays from receiver Javess Blue and two pick-sixes for the defense. Kentucky scored 45 unanswered points. This team is a triple OT loss at Florida away from being 6-0. Kentucky’s defense had three interceptions all of last season. Through six games the ‘Cats have 11 picks. They go to LSU on Saturday.
5) Something just doesn’t seem right at Alabama: After a crucial special teams fumble at Ole Miss last week, Alabama had four more (losing two) in a 14-13 win at Arkansas. A senior offensive lineman moves on a big third and short. The quarterback, Blake Sims, needs to sneak it a yard for a crucial first down and jumps straight into the air, a play coach Nick Saban said was “the worst quarterback sneak I’ve ever seen.”
And this glaring stat from columnist Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News: In the second half Alabama had one drive that registered a first down. Once Alabama took the one-point lead with 12:36 left, it did not record a single first down.
Alabama got the defensive stop it needed and held the SEC’s best rushing offense to 89 yards. That’s good. But I don’t understand what is going on with the offense.