Our Five Burning Questions as we head into the last Saturday in October:
1) Should Ole Miss be on Upset Alert at LSU? Few units in college football have been more impressive this season than the “Land Shark” defense at Ole Miss (7-0, 4-0 SEC). The Rebels are second nationally in points allowed (10.6 ppg). They are second only to Alabama in SEC rushing defense (97.1 ypg). Ole Miss is on a real high right now with three straight impressive wins over Alabama, Texas A&M and Tennessee. But Saturday night the Rebels go to LSU (6-2, 2-2), a team that is starting to find its identity after a 41-3 win at home over Kentucky. After a 41-7 loss at Auburn, LSU coach Les Miles went back to basics, which for him is running the ball. This is the first time both teams have been ranked for this games since 2003, Eli Manning’s senior season. I think this game is going to be very close.
2) And what about Mississippi State? Could they be caught peeking ahead? Mississippi State (6-0, 3-0) is the No. 1 team in the land. The Bulldogs have had a week off. They are going to Kentucky (5-2, 2-2), which got boat-raced at LSU last week but beat South Carolina in its last home game. A lot of people are already talking about Mississippi State’s Nov. 15 trip to Alabama and the Nov. 29 trip to Ole Miss. Mississippi State still has five SEC games left and hasn’t played a road game since Sept. 20.
3) What’s the over and under on the number of sacks Alabama will get against Tennessee? While it is true that No. 4 Alabama (6-1, 3-1 SEC) has played great at home and not so great on the road, sometimes it doesn’t matter where a game is played because of a bad match up. Such is the case for Tennessee (3-4, 0-3), which hosts the Crimson Tide Saturday night at Neyland Stadium. Simply put, Tennessee is dead last in the SEC in sacks allowed with 30 in seven games. The next highest number in sacks allowed is 16. Alabama is fourth in the SEC in sacks made with 19 and had six last week against Texas A&M. This one could get ugly.
4) Does South Carolina have ANY hope of slowing down Auburn? South Carolina knew its defense would struggle this season. You don’t lose one great player (Jadeveon Clowney) and two really good players (Kelcy Quarles, Chaz Sutton) on the defensive line and think you’re going to be just as good. But the Gamecocks–and I’m being charitable here–can’t stop ANYBODY. In five SEC games the South Carolina defense has given up 927 yards rushing (185.4 avg). Last week against FCS opponent Furman the Gamecocks allowed 211 yards rushing. That does not bode well as Steve Spurrier’s team goes to No. 5 Auburn (5-1, 2-1). Spurrier has played Auburn five times as the head ball coach at South Carolina. He is 0-5 in those games.
5) Vanderbilt is going to start its fourth different quarterback this season. Will it make any difference? It has not been a very good first season for head coach Derek Mason at Vanderbilt (2-5, 0-4). The Commodores have beaten lower level teams from UMass and Charleston Southern. In their four SEC games they have been outscored 150-61. Starting quarterback Patton Robinette has been put on the shelf with a concussion and so now Vanderbilt turns to redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary of Decatur, Ga. (Cedar Grove H.S.). McCrary left Cedar Grove as the all-time passer in DeKalb County. He came off the bench against Charleston Southern last week, completing 10 of 16 passes for 169 yards. He threw a 65-yard touchdown pass. He’ll get a stern test from Missouri ( 5-2, 2-1), which has one of the best defensive end combinations in the country in Markus Golden and Shane Ray.