Well, that was an eventful weekend in college football and particularly in the SEC. As you might expect, the rest of the country is having a ball at the SEC's expense today after the Auburn Tigers very nearly lost to FCS Jacksonville State, the Missouri Tigers struggled with the Arkansas State Red Wolves, the Tennessee Volunteers blew a big lead at home to lose to the Oklahoma Sooners, and the Arkansas Razorbacks topped it off with a home loss to the Toledo Rockets, who were led to victory by an old friend in QB Phillip Ely. Alabama handled its business well enough to avoid getting caught up in the cross-fire but, as we discussed yesterday, that performance hardly inspired confidence.
We'll start with some of the fallout:
Now, as the second weekend of college football is over, we can all agree that the SEC isn't head and shoulders above the rest of the college football. A week after we wondered if the Pac-12 was up to snuff to being considered the best conference in the country, it's now time to put the spotlight on the SEC.
On the verge of one of the biggest upsets in recent memory, Auburn struggled against Jacksonville State for most of four quarters, only to squeeze out a 27-20 victory in overtime. And Kanell couldn’t help but to chime in, suggesting that the gap is closing between the SEC and the Ohio Valley Conference.
The top of the SEC might once again be strong, but the conference doesn't look nearly as good top to bottom. During the SEC's unprecedented streak of seven consecutive national championships from 2006 to 2012, the league and its fans liked to boast of its collective strength and past dominance. Entering this weekend, 10 of the SEC's 14 teams were ranked in the Associated Press top 25 poll.
The only game that would've been even remotely close to Jacksonville State-Auburn is Appalachian State-Michigan, and that App State team was a two-time defending champion. It's really hard to overstate just how huge of an upset this would've been. People were talking about Auburn as a national title contender this offseason and putting them into projected Playoff final fours. Jacksonville State is hardly chopped liver, but being preseason favorite to win the Ohio Valley Conference is a little different than being favored to win the SEC.
Come on now, you would have gladly traded a little perceived SEC superiority for an Auburn loss to Jax State, wouldn't you have? It's OK, you're among friends - no need to lie. Truthfully, nothing really changes for Alabama here other than making it slightly less likely that a two-loss SEC Champion gets into the playoff.
It is a bit amusing that the media is enjoying taking shots at Auburn for being over-rated. After all, it was the same media who anointed them as national contenders despite coming off a five-loss season and replacing the vast majority of the starters on their stronger side of the football, never mind the fact that the Malzahn scheme requires a dynamic runner at the QB position to win in this conference. Otherwise the opposing defenses are simply going to take away the give option and lay the wood to Jeremy Johnson every time he keeps. Additionally, since Johnson isn't a particularly explosive runner you don't need a special type of spy. Any SEC-caliber starting linebacker will do, and he has time to play a little deeper to help take away the slant and shallow cross. Had the pundits read RBR this summer they might have voted differently. We tried to tell them.
Oh, and to Danny Kanell: you troll about as effectively as you read NFL defenses. That someone pays you to do what you do is almost as appalling as your beloved alma mater's handling of sexual assault cases.
On to Alabama:
"We moved the ball very inconsistently at times, especially in the passing game," Saban said. "We threw a couple interceptions, and didn't finish drives like we need to. We never really seemed like we were in sync, and didn't play like we wanted to on offense." Alabama finished with 532 yards, a total padded by big plays that were sandwiched between numerous negative moments for several different players — most notably the two quarterbacks. The Tide had seven gains of 19 yards or more, including five of 28 yards or more. "We made some explosive plays," Saban said, "but there has got to be more consistency and execution."
This is the key sticking point for Alabama. While no team will ever be truly consistent, the Alabama offense certainly has plenty of room to grow here. Hopefully they make some strides this week since Saturday's opponent has the most talented defense they will see this season.
Alabama (minus-6.5) is a moderate favorite in a revenge opportunity against Ole Miss and LSU (minus-6.5) is a better Tigers team than Auburn at this point, according to Vegas. SEC teams are favored in every non-conference game, including the one contest against a power-conference foe — Texas Tech at Arkansas.
I'm a bit surprised at this line considering all the hype around Ole Miss averaging over 70 points a game in the first two weeks. This game is going to be exceedingly difficult.
271.5 yards per game
Nationally: No. 28
SEC: No. 4 (Ole Miss No. 5 with 303.0 yards per game)
Scoring defense Average:
13.5 points per game
Nationally: No. 25
SEC: No. 3 (Ole Miss No. 2 with 12.0 per game)
As I was saying, this will probably be the best defense Alabama faces this season. Obviously this is a very small sample and Alabama has played a much tougher schedule, but Ole Miss has combined outstanding defense with absurd, video game offense thus far. The good news is that Alabama will also be the best defense that Ole Miss will see all season and we do possess more overall skill talent on the offensive side. The wild card in this one may well be who between QBs Jake Coker and Chad Kelly can make more plays in the passing game under intense pressure. As we like to say around here, hope for the best.
"They came out trying to go as fast as possible," he said. "So it was just about us settling down and making our calls and adjustments. But we got used to it pretty quick and we held them to three points pretty much for the whole game." The biggest adjustment for Ragland wasn't too complicated. "Everybody's got to run to the ball," he said. "That's pretty much it."
Alabama's defense definitely made some adjustments after allowing some bigger yardage early in the game. The Ole Miss attack will be MTSU on steroids.
It'll be a primetime 8:15 p.m. game with ESPN's College GameDay coming to Tuscaloosa. There will be considerable hype with Ole Miss moving up to No. 11 in the coaches poll fresh off two 70-plus scoring Saturdays. Here's a taste of what they're saying in Oxford this Sunday.
A little Jumbo Package Inception for you as beat writer Michael Casagrande offers a nice set of links talking about the upcoming game from the enemy's perspective.
"Obviously, our first concern is that both Lo and Marcel are going to be OK, which appears to be the case," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Sunday in a statement. "We don't have all of the details yet, but it is our understanding that they are the victims in this incident and we feel very fortunate that they are expected to fully recover.
They have shootings in Salt Lake City? Thankfully it appears that everyone is OK. Note to Alabama players: You simply can't be too careful when you're out and about.
Remember when Adam Jones wanted to get rid of his "Pacman" moniker so that fans could forget about his bad behavior both on and off the field? Well, his actions aren't really reflecting that. On Sunday against the Raiders, the Cincinnati cornerback took rookie receiver Amari Cooper's helmet off and slammed his head into it. Definitely not a good look, Pacman.
I'll keep this simple: Adam Jones is trash, he always has been trash, and he always will be trash. With all the problems he has had in the past, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should not hesitate to kick him out of the league for this. It is wholly unacceptable, particularly considering the recent focus on the concussion issue, complete with the settlement that will cost the NFL as much as a cool billion. Gif below for those who can't/won't click the link:
Just terrible and embarrassing for himself, the Bengals, and the NFL. The worst part? He wasn't even ejected by any of the buffoons wearing stripes who are standing right there. Luckily Coop was OK. As an aside, Amari got off to a great start before the starting QB left the game with a hand injury in the second quarter. He finished his NFL debut with four catches for 47 yards. Since we're talking NFL...
Despite playing in different conferences, somehow these two managed to face each other in their respective NFL debuts. Tampa had the first choice in the draft and took Winston, purportedly because he was the most "pro ready" while Mariota was to be more of a project. Turns out that Mariota looked like a Pro Bowler in his first game while Winston looked like someone who will be out of the league in three years, throwing a pick-six on his first NFL pass and another interception to a defensive end in the backfield. Tampa, I think you made a mistake.
Lastly, you can look forward to some new tunes for CBS Saturday broadcasts:
He is joining in the SEC on CBS coverage by recording a customized version of "Country Nation" for the broadcast, along with video elements that will be part of CBS Sports’ broadcasts of Southeastern Conference football throughout the regular season. According to a press release, "The customized song for each SEC Game of the Week highlights the players, programs, fans and pageantry around SEC football."
Here's the video. What say you?
That's it for today. We will obviously have all sorts of preview content for Ole Miss. Should be a great week!