I'm finally getting to talking about what happened in the SEC outside of Baton Rouge. Despite what looked like some really interesting matchups, there was really only one competitive game other than the classic played between the Gators and the Fightin' Tigers. Still, we learned a lot about the SEC this week. Namely, we learned that Kentucky is a pretender. We learned South Carolina may not be a pretender. We learned that Auburn is dangerous, or maybe we just learned that I had Vandy figured wrong. Here are the results:
South Carolina 38
Kentucky got on national television and folded like a note passed in 7th grade spelling class. It was pretty ugly. Andre Woodson's numbers as a QB weren't awful, but when you consider that in addition to throwing an interception, he also fumbled twice and lost 49 yards in sacks, his fair-to-middling numbers start looking downright awful.
South Carolina looked pretty tough and stout. The young quarterback looked... like a young quarterback in a tough league, but he wasn't terrible. He avoided interceptions and threw 2 touchdown passes. The running game struggled more than in the past, but the defense scored two touchdowns.
South Carolina is one of two teams in the East that controls its destiny. They still have to play Florida, but that's not an unwinnable game for them.
I was looking forward to watching this, and it was over almost as soon as it started. Auburn completely smoked Vandy. The Tigers averaged 6.1 yards per carry and only gave up 88 yards in passing. Frankly, I think I overestimated Vandy. Sure, they beat Ole Miss, but whenever they've played a halfway decent team, they haven't been competitive. Quarterback Chris Nickson was awful against both Bama and Auburn.
This game was over after the first quarter, and I turned it over watch Illinois beat Wisconsin. The Fighting Zooks roll on.
This game is the epitome of why I don't predict the outcome of games. Everything about this game shouted that Georgia was the better team and would win the game. Their defense has looked better. Their offense has looked both explosive and balanced. They have athletes all over the field. Tennessee looked awful both times they played a half-decent team. The whole program looked like it was in shambles, and there were rumblings that the Vols had pretty much quit on the season.
Then they went out and smoked Georgia from the opening kickoff until the game was out of reach. Now all of a sudden, Tennessee went from being a team of quitters to arguably the team to beat in the East. They have already played Florida, and they control their destiny.
Ole Miss 24
La Tech 0
I thought this would be a good game. Not this time.
Mississippi State 30
This game was closer than the score. UAB was winning this game well into the 4th quarter. The Bulldogs had played from behind all day before taking the lead with touchdown run 7 minutes into the 4th quarter. The Bulldogs scored two more touchdowns, including one defensive touchdown late to make the game look like a blowout.
Mississippi State is good enough to beat some of the best teams around, but not good enough to overlook anyone.
If you didn't hear already, let me be the first to tell you. This game came down to the last play, in which Bama corner Simeone Castille intercepted a jump ball in the end zone. This after Bama ended the first quarter ahead 23-0 on three touchdowns and a safety. It was almost like LSU-UAB in 2000 all over again. It would have been ugly up here, and a very unpleasant week at work, if Bama hadn't gotten the win here. The Bama fans I know don't exactly like losing, but they can accept a loss to teams that are better than they are, and some to teams that are equal to them, but a loss to a lesser team could make things ugly.
John Parker Wilson was less than effective again, and apparently Bama has decided Terry Grant is not that great of a back because he hardly played.
The message boards buzzed about this game and a possible upset as it was going on, but Chattanoga never got closer than 14-9, where the game stood for most of the second quarter. Arkansas blew it open in the second half. Jones and McFadden were their usual selves, as was Casey Dick.
I watched some of the game again last night. I noticed that Florida really exploited the middle of the field. Most of their plays, and most of their positive plays, went to the middle of the field both in the passing game and in the running game. They didn't attack the corners very much. They went after the linebackers and the safeties.
Oh, and Jacob Hester is still the man. He is the winner of the GeauxTuscaloosa Offensive Skill Position Player of the Week Award. His numbers were hardly gaudy: 23 carries for 106 yards and 1 touchdown. Several people got better numbers around the SEC and would have been deserving, like Eric Ainge for example. But of course, there was a lot behind those numbers. The winning touchdown, the two 4th down conversions, the bruising running style that occasionally carried defensive backs with him, and let's not forget the good block on the fake field goal.
Tomorrow: a preview of the Kentucky game