The headliner for the weekend was the obvious revenge match between Alabama and the Aggies, and the game did not disappoint. 1000 yards of combined total offense. And in an SEC game, at that. While many saw this game as a grudge match, a chance to even the score, I don't think anyone anticipated the events that transpired at The Collie Graveyard (aka Plano Memorial Field) aka Kyle Field.
Johnny Football was out there doing Johnny Football-type things, making defenders miss and showing off one of the most impressive displays of precision passing and QB ability in recent memory. Had the Aggies been up against any other team, they would have broken out to that 14-0 lead and never turned back. Alabama's secondary was repeatedly victimized by the size mismatch Mike Evans provided. At 6'5", he was nearly impossible to stop, and that, combined with JFF's passing, was something to behold.
But the guy on the other sideline is a pretty good QB in his own right. AJ McCarron put on a clinic after a shaky start in the first two series. Most Bama fans would agree that though JFF is incredibly talented, we'll take AJ in the trenches any day of the week. AJ's numbers were astounding for a "game-manager": 334 yards passing on a 20-for-29 performance, with 4 TDs and no interceptions. His ability is matched only by his leadership, as he rallied the offense when down by 14, and called the audible on 3rd and goal inside the 10 that resulted in the winning touchdown.
Bama was not without a slew of uncharacteristic mental errors, and there were busts in coverage against the talented Aggie WR corps all afternoon long. But the Tide did enough to survive, comfortable in the knowledge that they will likely not again be asked to contain such a potent offense prior to the SECCG, if the Tide is lucky enough to navigate the remainder of the schedule.
Electrifying football from an offensive standpoint. Alabama's strength going into the game, the defense, did just enough to slow down the nitro-driven Agricultural Gentlemen's offense. It was a shootout, and one that I know Bama fans are glad is in the history book. Roll Tide, y'all.
Ole Miss. Who would have thought that the Rebel Black Bear Akbars would be 3-0 at this point in the season after a resounding win over Texas? We all knew Ole Miss had a storm brewing in Oxford, but did any of us expect a turnaround this quickly? While I'm not ready to hand the SEC West to the Whatever-they-ares, Ole Miss is on the rise. They pack a potent offense and a defense that seems to be progressing weekly, rich with talent after a solid recruiting effort by coach Hugh Freeze. Bo Wallace has proven himself a steady QB in Freeze's system, but it was RB Jeff Scott who, like BYU the week before, found and exploited a weakness in the ‘Horn run defense. Scott powered for 164 yards rushing on 19 carries with a TD, in addition to a punt return for a TD. The Ole Miss speed option gave the Longhorns fits, and even though Texas surged to a halftime lead, Ole Miss kept the ball on the ground and figured out the Texas offense, leading to the 44-23 final score. Well done, <<Insert mascot name here>>, well done.
And how about the Auburnite? The heathens on the Plains managed to pull victory from the jaws of defeat against a hapless Mississippi State team late Saturday night, winning by a score of 24-20. With 10 seconds on the clock, newcomer QB Nick Marshall hit C.J. Uzomah for an 11 yard TD pass to seal the deal for the Barn. How hot is Mullen's seat right now, folks? I wonder if he's had any bricks thrown through his window yet? Not that I advocate that, but even the downtrodden MSU fan base must be getting a little tired of these tough losses, especially to the likes of their fellow SEC under-dwellers. The existence of Mississippi State fans is proof positive that human beings have and maintain a masochistic streak, as the Bulldogs make a habit of losing games in the most painful way possible. The Bulldogs bottled up the Auburnite running game throughout the night, after the WarTigers leaned heavily on a trio of backs in the first two games of the season. However, it looks as though Marshall is beginning to internalize the GusBus system, so the Barn just may get to eight wins this year yet.
In other news around the SEC...
- Kentucky once again became the laughing stock of the Commonwealth State, falling to arch-rival Louisville by a score of 27-13. Right now, for those keeping score, the Kentucky Derby of football looks like this: 1. Louisville; 2. Western Kentucky; 3. Other Potential Directional Kentuckys; 4. Kentucky. Heisman candidate Teddy Bridgewater had a rather pedestrian performance early on, struggling with the UK defense, if you can imagine that. In the second half, however, Lou-uh-vill head coach Charlie Strong put the word on his team, and the curse words paid off for the Cards. Bridgewater finished with 250 yards passing, though the UL offensive MVP this week should be Senorise Perry, who was steady in the first half during Bridgewater's struggles. He ended up with 100 yards rushing on the day and two TDs. In the meantime, the underrated Lousiville defense held UK to 0-for-13 on third downs. Won't win many that way, Stoops. To make matters worse for the Wildcats, starting QB Max Smith was knocked out of the game, and his return is uncertain. Welp, ole Kentuck...it's almost basketball season, right?
- Arkansas continued its run-heavy offensive attack against Southern Miss in a 24-3 win. However, this week, the Hawgs had little choice after starting QB Brandon Allen was knocked out of the game with a shoulder bruise. AJ Derby took his place and was workmanlike, if not spectacular. He didn't have to be great, however, as the tailback tandem of Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams went for 300 yards on the ground combined. Collins is the first freshman since Adrian Peterson to run for over 100 yards in his first three games, so it looks like pounding the ball will be Arky's MO this year. Dirty Bert approves.
- Tennessee...wow. I knew you guys were struggling, but...The Viles took a wonderful loss at the hands of the Quackers by a score of 59-14. That's the most points scored against Tennessee since 1910. It was as dominant a performance as the score would indicate, as Oregon QB Marcus Mariotta went off, throwing for 456 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tennessee was eviscerated for most of the game, as the outcome was never in doubt. Love it. TENNERSSEE IZ BACK, YAWL!
- LSU gave Kent State the "heavybag treatment," beating the hell out of an undermanned Golden Flashes team by a score of 45-13. "Uncle Rico" Mettenburger again demonstrated his offensive rebirth with a strong 264 yard, three TD performance against Kent State. Jeremy "Team Vote" Hill sucker-punched the Golden Flashes defense early on, abusing the young front seven with a 58 yard run en route to a 117 yard, 2 TD performance. Though the competition was a step behind what LSU will face week in and week out in the SEC, the Tiger defense is maturing, as more of the younger players appear to be picking up DC John Chavis' system. The Whos will represent what figures to be Alabama's second biggest challenge of the regular season, and right now, it looks like no one short of aTm, maybe UGA, is going to have much of a chance against the Tigers until they meet the Tide in Tuscaloosa.
- Sackerlina kept things on track with a win over a struggling Vandy team that is not living up to lofty expectations this year. Coach Steve Spurrier's ‘Cocks stroked the Vandy D for an early 28-0 lead after scoring on their first four offensive possessions. However, they allowed Vandy to anchor down and get back in the game. South Carolina led 35-10 at the half, and despite am inspired Vandy flurry they were able to hold on for a 10 point win, due in part to a fumble caused by Jadeveon Clowney. SC RB Mike Davis again proved he's up to the task at running back, and the 'Cocks will continue to pray for a UGA SEC loss to get them back in the title hunt.
The meat of the SEC schedule is before us, and impact games are developing. Though this week's slate of games is still heavy with "also-rans," key match-ups like Auburn @ LSU and Tennessee @ Florida will receive some attention.
SEC Week 4 Schedule
Time (EST) Matchup
12 p.m. Vanderbilt @ Massachusetts
12:21 p.m. North Texas @ #9 Georgia
3:30 p.m. Arkansas @ Rutgers
3:30 p.m. Tennessee @ #19 Florida
7 p.m. Southern Methodist @ #10 Texas A&M
7 p.m. Colorado State @ #1 Alabama
7:30 p.m. Troy @ Mississippi State
7:45 p.m. Auburn @ #6 LSU
8 p.m. Missouri @ Indiana
SEC Teams in the AP Top 25
1. Alabama (59)
2. Oregon (1)
4. Ohio State
8. Florida State
10. Texas A&M
11. Oklahoma State
12. South Carolina
21. Ole Miss
22. Notre Dame
23. Arizona State
25. Texas Tech