Has there even been a better time to hate Tennessee?
With week seven of the college football season in the books, a few thoughts:
Alabama: Trent Richardson decided to film his obligatory Heisman promo in Oxford and he practically made a laughingstock of the Ole Miss defense. The 'Bama defense toyed with the Rebel offense and judging by the composition of the crowd in the second half this was practically a home game for the Tide. Might be a stretch to say this is a better team than the 2009 squad, but at the least you cannot legitimately say it's any worse at this point. It's still almost hard to believe that the two major in-state universities in states bordering each other and so similar in culture, demographics, and socioeconomic status could produce such disparate on-field results.
Auburn: We'll be expecting a Thank You card in the mail. Sincerely, co-signed, Nick Saban and Les Miles. Auburn wins with relative ease despite only gaining thirteen first downs and 278 yards of total offense, going 1-13 on third downs, completing only seven passes, averaging fewer than four yards per carry from the tailbacks, missing two field goals, racking up 79 yards in penalties, and losing the time of possession battle. Is Auburn going to fall ass backwards into an 8-4 or 7-5 season? Yes, yes they are. Bad football reigns victorious again down on Harvey's Corner. Stop me if you've heard this before. Given Barrett Trotter's struggles, Chizik and Malzahn have decided to go with a three-man rotation at quarterback. Not sure we've ever seen that this late in the season in conference play in recent memory.
Florida: Death threats may not be Chris Rainey's area of expertise, but fielding punts sure as hell isn't. Florida put on the worst sixty minutes of football since Mississippi State in the infamous 3-2 fiasco and allowed Auburn to win with relative ease despite posting a poor performance in their own right. Florida has looked worse the past two weeks than at any point in my lifetime, and with three conference losses by mid-October about all the Gators can do at this point is get Mark Richt fired. 7-5 could be a real stretch at this point.
Georgia: Note to Todd Grantham, you keep acting like a drunk ass clown in a scarf and barf sports bar and you'll soon be one. Aaron Murray flashed memories of 2010 for the first time this season and Marlon Brown looks poise to shake the semi-bust label, all of which was necessary because Malcolm Mitchell did not play and a worn out Isiah Crowell was a complete non-factor against the 'Dores. Defense did just enough to get by, but giving up 28 points and 350 yards of offense to a Vanderbilt team whose starting quarterback completed only four passes makes you wonder. Needed win in Athens as Richt avoids a disaster, but also one that highlights their rather obvious shortcomings, and on the whole something of a bad day for UGA as South Carolina continues to find a way to win despite playing terrible football. They have to run the table from here on out and hope for a Carolina upset to reach Atlanta.
LSU: The Bayou Bengals slowly went through the Vols like a methodical machine. The offense have a bit of a slow day, but Jarrett Lee was efficient and they did more than enough against an out-manned Tennessee team. The defense looks a bit shaky on the defensive interior in the running game, and that will be how 'Bama must attack them, but with the speed and aggressiveness of this unit it's fun to watch them play. The offense seemingly lost a punch when Jordan Jefferson went into the game, but really this game was a glorified exhibition in preparation of the Tide.
Ole Miss: So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night, Houston Nutt. You never really were worth a damn and only God knows how you lasted this long, so, um, yeah I really don't know how to do this nicely. Colonel Reb suffered his most lopsided loss since the Kennedy administration descended upon Oxford. Likely season-ending injuries to Marcus Temple and Wayne Dorsey will only make this team worse than it has been to date, hard as though that is to fathom. This team doesn't have the talent, and it looks like they've just quit at this point. 3-9 might be a bridge too far.
Mississippi State: On the year the Bullies are 2-0 against Conference USA and 0-4 against the SEC; you tell me which conference they ought to be in. New face under center now with Tyler Russell but he produced the same old terrible results. Defense looked solid, which means absolutely nothing given that South Carolina was opponent. Now Dan Mullen hopes to fight through Kentucky, Tennessee-Martin, and Ole Miss to earn a return trip to Birmingham. It's like old Croom times in Starkvegas.
South Carolina: Connor Shaw was just as bad as Stephen Garcia and nowhere near as entertaining. Face it, folks, this is a loss for America. Alshon Jeffery looks like he partook in the Mike DuBose S&C program, but he pulled the Gamecocks through with a key touchdown catch late. Marcus Lattimore going down for the year is the last thing you want to see happen to what is by all accounts a good kid and a hard worker, but the on-field impact is hard to gauge despite the media talk to the contrary. Lattimore is probably one of the more overrated players around, he provided nothing for the Gamecocks on Saturday before the injury (2.3 yards per carry), and that offense figures to be bad regardless of his availability. Even with the Lattimore news, it's not necessarily a bad day for Carolina with Florida and Tennessee falling hard. Tennessee could pull the upset in Knoxville in two weeks, assuming they survive back-to-back fights against 'Bama and LSU better than the Gators did, but otherwise a win against Florida or a Georgia loss to anyone clinches the East for the Gamecocks. 'Bama and LSU have to be salivating at the thought of getting this team in the Georgia Dome.
Tennessee: Nothing good ever happened with one of the Simms sisters under center and we've got a decade of incompetence to prove that theory. Matt Simms was a disaster and Da'Rick Rogers was a non-factor outside of one impressive catch-and-run. Tauren Poole had a solid showing, as did the Tennessee defense, but the Vols never seriously challenged the Bayou Bengals and will be hard pressed to push the Crimson Tide this weekend. 'Bama notwithstanding, Dooley's only real hope to salvage this season is probably an upset over South Carolina in two weeks. Lulu and Junior are gettin' upset.
Vanderbilt: As predicted in this piece a week ago, Vandy gave Georgia a run for their money, fighting 'til the clock read 00:00 before falling to UGA 33-28. Jordan Rodgers completed four passes in four quarters. Yikes. With semi-competent QB play, Vandy pulls off the upset. Give James Franklin credit, this team doesn't roll over anymore, and another tip of the hat for standing up to Todd Grantham in the postgame.