SEC Week 3 Roundup, Rankings, Breakdowns & Recaps
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SEC Player of the Week
LSU RB Leonard Fournette ran 19 times for 228 yards and three scores in the 45-21 win over Auburn
SEC East Rankings After Week 3
1. Georgia (3-0)
2. Tennessee (2-1)
3. Missouri (3-0)
4. Florida (3-0)
5. Kentucky (2-1)
6. South Carolina (1-3)
7. Vanderbilt (1-2)
SEC West Rankings After Week 3
1. Ole Miss (3-0)
2. Alabama (2-1)
3. LSU (2-0)
4. Texas A&M (3-0)
5. Mississippi State (2-1)
6. Arkansas (1-2)
7. Auburn (2-1)
And now it really gets fun.
Forgetting for a moment that the whole world takes every SEC misstep as a sign of weakness, and that the SEC world takes every big moment as some sort of proof that it’s the greatest conference in the history of sports, at the highest of levels, the league always takes center stage.
The Ole Miss-Alabama game was as good as it gets in terms of history, athleticism, talent, and stakes. The loss is hardly a deathblow to a Crimson Tide program that got to the playoff last year after a loss to the Rebels, and did just fine despite losing in the regular season in 2011 and 2012, but now the race appears to be more wide open than ever.
LSU and Texas A&M have started out hot, Ole Miss probably deserves to be the No. 1 team in the country, and Georgia is creeping up into pay-attention-to status in the playoff chase.
But there’s a flip side to all of this. When the big names sputter and disappoint, the panic sirens are blaring.
The season is only a few weeks old, but Auburn – despite being 2-1 and losing a road game in one of the toughest places in college football to play – is already being considered the nation’s most disappointing team. If it’s not Auburn, it’s Arkansas, who might as well fold up shop now. Steve Spurrier apparently can’t coach anymore, Missouri and Florida seasons are a disaster – and they’re both 3-0.
All of it means this is shaping up to be the most interesting SEC season in a long time.
Florida: W. Florida 14-9
It might not be scintillating football, but Florida is unbeaten and it has a road win over a dangerous and rising Kentucky team. Will Grier was fine, but the offense still needs to find a positive identity. The O might not have been great over the last few years, but at least it could power the ball – this group can’t really do that quite yet. There’s no high-octane passing attack, and there’s no explosion, but apparently 245 yards of total offense is enough for now. At this point, take the wins and keep on moving.
Georgia: W, South Carolina 52-20
So … any concerns about the passing game now? South Carolina might not have generated any sort of a pass rush, and the Georgia O line did a great job, but try completing 24-of-25 passes throwing against air. Greyson Lambert almost pitched a perfect game, and at the very least, he’s going to make every defensive coordinator care about more than just Nick Chubb. Meanwhile, the Bulldog defense embarrassed the Gamecock offense at times. There was no real need for the UGA passing game to throw like it did considering the way the D was playing, but Lambert picked a nice time to announce he’s going to be a factor.
Kentucky: L, Florida 14-9
Florida’s defense is terrific, and the Kentucky D did a great job, but the offense couldn’t take advantage of the several chances it had throughout the game. There was no downfield passing game, and the ground attack couldn’t get Boom Williams going outside of one big run, but that’s not okay in a game like this. This was the home date the program was waiting to use as a sparkplug for something bigger, especially coming off the South Carolina win, but now it looks like there’s still a long way to go.
Missouri: W, Connecticut 9-6
How is Missouri going to fix all of this? UConn has a nice defense, especially against the run, but a contender for SEC East title has to be able to average better than 2.5 yards per carry at home. The line has talent, and there are enough veterans around who know the system, but this is a really, really ugly start to an offense that can’t score. Fortunately, the SEC season starts against Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida – the Tigers aren’t going to have to get into any shootouts. But coming up with a third down conversion here and there would be nice before going to Georgia in mid-October.
South Carolina: L, Georgia 52-20
Until the quarterback situation improves, there’s no chance to do anything going forward in the SEC. The defense got picked clean by Greyson Lambert, and the line got pounded on in a bad performance, but without Connor Mitch out of the mix for the foreseeable future, the offense is going to have to manufacture something from Perry Orth and Lorenzo Nunez – the latter the far better of the two against the Bulldogs. Steve Spurrier is a legendary offensive genius – now it’s time to put that creativity to work against a bad UCF team before having to face Missouri.
Tennessee: W, Western Carolina 55-10
The Vols needed to cleanse the palate after the Oklahoma loss, but the team didn’t really need to stretch its legs. The passing game didn’t crank up too much down the field, and Joshua Dobbs didn’t take too many chances, but it was an easy win before diving into the SEC season going to Florida. The Gators aren’t going to put up big numbers and it’s not going to be a shootout, so now let’s see if UT learned from the OU loss. Get up early, and then keep the pressure on – play a full four quarters. Easier said than done against the Gator D, but this will be the game for the O line that needs take control from the start.
Vanderbilt: W, Austin Peay 47-7
Finally, the offense started to show it could score some points. If nothing else, getting a 28-of-33 day from Johnny McCrary should be a bit of a confidence-booster before the date at Ole Miss and five road games in the next six. Even in a game like this, though, the Commodores couldn’t control the mistakes finishing a -2 in turnover margin to keep the score from being a bigger blowout. Even so, there was a little bit of explosion, and the team got to have some fun. Now the real season begins – the team isn’t going to come off a stronger overall performance.
Alabama: L, Ole Miss 43-37
-5. The quarterback play was good enough to get by. The defense did a better job than the 43 points put up on the board would suggest. The running game averaged over five yards per pop, and the fight was there in chance after chance after chance to get back in the game. Ole Miss had everything go its way, got every weird bounce, and got every takeaway – granted, it created its own breaks – and the Crimson Tide still had a shot at pulling it out at the end. Going forward, Bama has to remember to keep going with the running game no matter what – don’t make Jake Coker force things that aren’t there.
Arkansas: L, Texas Tech 35-24
Arkansas tried to be Arkansas again, and it still didn’t work. Grind the ball on the ground – check. The Hogs ran for 228 yards. Control the clock – check. They had it for 36:43. Dominate on third downs – offensively, absolutely, converting 7-of-11 chances. The problem was the defense that couldn’t get off the field when Texas Tech was being Texas Tech. The Red Raiders seemed to hit every third down opportunity, converting 7-of-10 tries, and the passing game was stellar. Part of the formula requires a rested defense to come up with a stop, and it didn’t happen.
Auburn: L, LSU 45-21
The defense wasn’t supposed to be the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. It was supposed to be better, but even with Will Muschamp at defensive coordinator, it wasn’t expected to turn into a killer. It wasn’t good against LSU – duh – but that’s a special running game with a special back in a brutal road setting. No, the problem is on the other side, where Jeremy Johnson isn’t moving the offense and the running game doesn’t have any semblance of rhythm. There were a few nice runs, and Johnson took off for a big play, but there’s no fear now dealing with this attack. The O line has to be better, but it’s a total meltdown at the moment. Playing LSU will do that, though.
LSU: W, Auburn 45-21
Is this time to bring up that the receiving corps has a slew of race cars still sitting in the garage? Leonard Fournette is on his way to the Heisman, and there’s no reason to take any big chances, but Travin Dural shouldn’t be leading the team with four catches for 27 yards Malachi Dupre and John Diarse shouldn’t be combining for two catches for 28 yards. LSU has been national title-good before without a JaMarcus Russell-type of bomber under center, and Brandon Harris has been fine, but soon, the offense will have to start doing more.
Mississippi State: W, Northwestern State 62-13
Dak Prescott took target practice with an almost-perfect day, completing 10-of-11 passes for 227 yards and two scores, but this game was about getting the timing of the ground game down after struggling to get moving against LSU. Everyone got to have fun with gash after gash against the undermanned Demon D, averaging well over seven yards per carry. It was a nice and easy moment for the team to get its bearings back before a suddenly-winnable game at Auburn. The Tigers can’t stop anyone’s ground game – MSU has to get it rolling for a second week in a row.
Ole Miss: W, at Alabama 43-37
Can the team handle the success? With Vanderbilt, at Florida, New Mexico State, and at Memphis coming up, it’ll be easy to assume the Rebels will be 7-0 before dealing with Texas A&M. However, the team needs to keep pressing and keep improving – keep the attitude it had when it came out with a killer instinct from the start of the season. Last year was a stunner when it beat Alabama. This time around, Hugh Freeze and company acted like this was supposed to happen. Go +5 in the turnover margin, and it will.
Texas A&M: W, Nevada 44-27
Even with a win over Arizona State, Texas A&M is sort of flying under the radar. This hasn’t been the bombs away, lightning fast, explosive juggernaut it was under Mr. Manziel’s reign, being balanced, consistent, and steady. Everything is working offensively, and while the defense still isn’t a brick wall, it hasn’t had to be. With the strong special teams and the excellent pass rush, everything is starting to work at just the right time. With Arkansas, Mississippi State and Alabama up next, this is where the Aggies can make their own SEC statement. Win those three games, and the battle at Ole Miss will be the game of the year.
Week 3 SEC Football Scores & Picks: How’d We Do?
SEC Football Picks Through Week 3: Straight Up: 30-4 ATS: 20-9
at Texas A&M 44, Nevada 27
Line: Texas A&M-34.5, o/u: 65, Prediction: Texas A&M 48, Nevada 17
at Missouri 9, Connecticut 6
Line: Missouri -21.5, o/u: 39, Prediction: Missouri 31, Connecticut 13
at LSU 45, Auburn 21
Line: LSU -7.5, o/u: 49.5, Prediction: LSU 26-20
at Mississippi State 62, Northwestern State 13
Line: No Line, o/u: No Line, Prediction: Mississippi State 52, Northwestern State 10
at Vanderbilt 47, Austin Peay 7
Line: No Line, o/u: No Line, Prediction: Vanderbilt 50, Austin Peay 7
at Georgia 52, South Carolina 20
Line: Georgia -16.5, o/u: 54, Prediction: Georgia 27, South Carolina 17
Texas Tech 35, at Arkansas 24
Line: Arkansas -11.5, o/u: 67.5, Prediction: Arkansas 44, Texas Tech 31
at Tennessee 55, Western Carolina 10
Line: No Line, o/u: No Line, Prediction: Tennessee 45, Western Carolina 13
Florida 14, at Kentucky 9
Line: Florida -3, o/u: 52, Prediction: Florida 24-20
Ole Miss 43, at Alabama 37
Line: Alabama -6.5, o/u: 51.5, Prediction: Alabama 23, Ole Miss 17