Monday, September 24, 2007

Week 4 Around the SEC

In a week that saw only one significant upset on the national level (Michigan over Penn State), the action in the SEC was probably the most exciting stuff all weekend. The LSU-South Carolina game wasn't the most thrilling in the world, but it was the highest profile game of the week. Here's what happened this week around the SEC:

Georgia 26
Bama 23 (OT)

This was expected to be a good game, and it didn't disappoint in the least. These two teams played this game tough the entire time they were on the field. Georgia sprinted out to a 10-0 lead, but didn't appear comfortable at any time except for their first drive, in which they scored a quick touchdown after marching the length of the field with ease. Bama didn't give them anything easy the rest of the game.

I said of this game:
They key to this game is Georgia's young, talented, but inconsistent quarterback Matthew Stafford. When he's good, Georgia is a very good team. When he's bad, Georgia is a rather bad team. He was good against Oklahoma State and bad against South Carolina. If Bama's defense can keep him off balance, they'll have a good weekend. If they let Stafford get into a good rhythm and stay there, it's going to be a long night.
Stafford had an OK night, but neither great nor terrible. He was 19 for 35 with 224 yards passing, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He avoided getting sacked. He had a one-game GTQBPI of 5.65, which is not great, but is not bad for a BIG game. He was not really the key to the game, however, because he had neither a great game nor a bad game. The key was Georgia's solid running attack, which put up 153 tough yards and wore down the Bama defense.

Kentucky 42
Arkansas 29

This was another one of those back-and-forth type games. Early, it looked like Arkansas would run away with it, as they scored they jumped out to a 20-7 lead. Then Kentucky made a furious rally to get it to 21-20 in the 3rd quarter. Arkansas scored the next 9 points on a safety and a touchdown return of the ensuing free kick before Kentucky scored the final 21 points of the game. I'm sorry I didn't get to watch this game, but I was watching the Bama-Georgia game instead.

Jones and McFadden torched the Kentucky defense as expected for 306 yards rushing between them, plus Felix Jones returned that free kick for a touchdown. Surprisingly, despite 338 yards rushing, almost 500 total yards of offense, and touchdowns by both the special teams AND the defense, Arkansas still didn't put up a ton of points. Having outgained Kentucky by 60 yards and scored two non-offensive touchdowns, I don't really understand why they lost so badly. Having not watched the game, I don't really have any insight.

But I have some takeaway lessons:
  1. neither of these teams have good defenses.
  2. both of these teams are very dangerous, but also beatable.
Since we play both of these teams, and Kentucky is likely to be ranked when we play them, we need to watch out.

Florida 30
Ole Miss 24

It's hard to imagine me getting it more wrong than this. Here is what I said:
The bad news is that Florida is so much better than Ole Miss that we won't really get an opportunity to gauge how good Ole Miss is.... I think Florida will be able to find a LOT of mismatches.

Blake Adams played a whale of a ballgame, with over 300 yards passing, 2 touchdowns, and a one-game GTQBPI of 9.03. That's outstanding against a team as good as Florida. It gave his team a chance to pull off a major upset, but in the end there was just too much Tim Tebow. Between his running and his passing, he accounted for 427 yards of offense and 2 touchdowns. His GTQBPI was 8.31, and he either ran or passed 51 times on the game. That's good enough to win the coveted GeauxTuscaloosa Offensive Player of the Week for the 4th consecutive time.

Auburn 55
New Mexico State 20

Auburn stops the bleeding at least temporarily by getting an easy win over NMSU. Here's what I said of this game:
Keep an eye on that New Mexico State-Auburn score. Don't be surprised if New Mexico State has a shot at this game in the 4th quarter. Auburn's offense is struggling immensely due to poor blocking and lack of playmakers at the skill positions. NMSU plays that pass-happy Hal Mumme offense. If they can avoid giving Auburn short fields and can find a way to put up 3 touchdowns, they have a real chance here.
NMSU put up a few points, but they also committed 6 turnovers. They actually only outgained by about 40 yards on the game, but those short fields killed their chances. Auburn QBs had a solid game, even if they weren't spectacular. Next week, they get Florida but also get Brad Lester back. Let's see if that provides the magic cure to Auburn's ills.

Mississippi State 31
Gardner Webb 15

OK, they let a team from the former Division I-AA put up 15 points on them and stay within 2 scores. No one ever said MSU had a dynamic high-powered offense. They're going to have to grind out wins, even against weak teams, but they just ground out their 3rd win. In truth though, they jumped out to a 31-3 lead, and then gave up some scores when the game was out of reach. They need to figure out how to win 3 more to get to a bowl game. It won't be easy.

Tennessee 48
Arkansas State 27

Arkansas State stayed within striking distance for most of the game, but never could quite do more than keep it close. Before you start thinking about how Tennessee must have looked bad, keep in mind that Arkansas State gave Texas all they wanted earlier in the season.

That's all I have.

We're now in 1st place in the SEC West thanks to Bama's loss. We're the only undefeated SEC West team. The East has two undefeated teams in Kentucky and Florida. No, this isn't basketball.


Anonymous said...

Auburn actually won't have Lester back until the Vandy game, the week after Florida.

uberschuck said...

We play at Kentucky the week after we play Florida. Whether we win or lose vs. Florida, the game at Kentucky is a perfect trap game, because we'll either be tempted to overlook them after a big win, or prone to depression after a painful loss. It's going to be the biggest game in Lexington in decades--maybe ever, plus the whole state will be treated to replays of the Miracle on Bluegrass during the week leading up to the game to get pumped up. More important than that psychological stuff, Woodson is awesome.

The CBS commentators remarked that USC showed a couple ways to overcome our defense. True, but I think Ole Miss did the same for us with Florida's defense, and their successful plays were not the result of defensive backs slipping on a wet field.