Random Thoughts from Around the SEC

With week six of the college football season in the books, a few thoughts:

Alabama: 'Bama continued its tradition of sluggish homecoming performances, but only a fool would really complain about a 34-0 win in conference play. Truth be told it's all obligatory affairs with the top priority being staying healthy until November 5th rolls around. Only a Curley Hallman-esque upset would doom the Tide in Oxford.

Arkansas: The Hogs couldn't stop the run and a fairly pedestrian day for Tyler Wilson (by his standards) would normally spell defeat, but a timely 92-yard touchdown run by Joe Adams and some key mistakes by the Auburn offense let Bobby Petrino and company sneak away in relative ease. Broderick Green is back in all of his 2.9 yards per carry glory. The Hogs move to 5-1 and will now enjoy an off week followed up by Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. Times are good in Fayetteville.

Auburn: Shockingly enough the defense was semi-respectable (at least by Auburn standards), but the offense once again proved to be a flop, going scoreless in the final three quarters after getting an early 14-7 lead. Sloppy play in the form of three turnovers and 100+ yards in penalties proved costly, as did the absence of Emory Blake, and after a 6-19 performance for 81 yards from Barrett Trotter it's indefensible if Kiehl Frazier is not named the starting quarterback this week. Again, though, losses to 'Bama, Arkansas, and LSU were all but assumed and the success or failure of the season was always going to hinge on the five games against Mississippi State, Clemson, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia, and to that end Auburn gets a big break drawing a Florida team at home this weekend that has been thoroughly ground to a fine powder by back-to-back games against 'Bama and LSU.

Florida: The Gators were beaten in Baton Rouge before they ever got off the bus and as pummeled as that team looks they figure to be longshots on the Plains this weekend. Not that anyone will fare well with 'Bama and LSU in back-to-back weeks, but Jacoby Brissett could do nothing under center and Chris Rainey has been ground to a halt. The bigger concern, though, is the struggles of the Florida defense and in particular their inability to stop the run. A win this weekend against Auburn, a team that has always snake-bitten the Gators, is a must if they are to have any real chance of reaching Atlanta.

Georgia: Ugly game in Knoxville, but Mark Richt picks up his 100th win and Georgia arguably stakes its claim as the favorite in the SEC East. Don't laugh, but if UGA can exercise their Florida demons in Jacksonville and beat a middling Auburn team at home, either 'Bama or LSU will face UGA in Atlanta the first week of December. Someone send Boise a box of tissues. Isiah Crowell was gimpy after some injuries on Saturday night, and leading receiver Malcolm Mitchell had a hamstring injury which kept him out late. The Dawgs best not underestimate the road trip to Nashville this weekend, but in general they have rebounded as well as they could have hoped after the early season disaster.

Kentucky: That 3-0 early lead was nice, wasn't it? Those 54 unanswered points that followed? Not so much. UK managed six first downs, six turnovers, and 96 total yards of offense, and Morgan Newton had a negative quarterback rating for much of the game (didn't know that was even possible). Nyjer Morgan did nothing nearly as offensive on Friday night as the 'Cats did in Columbia on Saturday morning.

LSU: The Bayou Bengals feasted upon the 'Bama-softened Gators, not that it would have mattered even if Florida were at full strength. Jarrett Lee made some plays in the passing game and admittedly he has a very dangerous wide receiver corps (much more so than 'Bama, I'm afraid). The student section wanted Alabama at game's end, and rightly so because no one else has anything for this team.

Mississippi State: Kentucky kept this from being the ugliest performance of the weekend, as MSU only slowly pulled away from UAB to win 21-3 in Legion Field in front of an announced crowd of 28,000. Tyler Russell looks like the starting quarterback now with Chris Relf face-planting yet again, but it's hard to see him being a savior in conference play. And say what you will about Ole Miss, but have they really been all that much worse than this MSU team? If they show the Egg Bowl in Parchman the prison lawyers will probably claim cruel and unusual punishment.

South Carolina: The final scoreboard looks highly impressive, but Kentucky is one of the worst teams in the country so take that margin with a grain of salt the size of the South Atlantic. Connor Shaw had a big stat line, but you have to figure if he could legitimately play anywhere near that well long-term Stephen Garcia would have never been starting in the first place. Easy schedule, though, has its benefits, and barring upsets against MSU and Tennessee the Gamecocks will head into Fayetteville at 7-1 and atop the SEC East.

Tennessee: Derek Dooley fails to seize a key opportunity, and with Tyler Bray out until mid-November the Vols are in a world of hurt with 'Bama, LSU, and South Carolina on the schedule in the next three weeks. Want to know how many yards Tennessee has rushed for in their first two conference games? -29. And no, the negative sign is no typo. By all accounts the Vols will come out on the backside of LSU and 'Bama like they've spent those two weeks as crash test dummies. For all of their shortcomings South Carolina should win that by default.

Vanderbilt: Scrappy performance against 'Bama and the 'Dores still look the best they have in years. Jordan Rodgers actually looks like an upgrade at quarterback, and it wouldn't be a major surprise if Vandy gave UGA a test this weekend in Nashville. I'd take this team all day over Mississippi State or Kentucky. Dan Mullen and Joker Phillips probably would too.

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