Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Looking over the SEC... Everyone but Arkansas was active out of conference this "weekend" (spilling over into Sunday and Monday). Four teams have to be happy with big wins; three teams have narrow victories to consider; and four teams have losses to stew over.

Tennessee and Florida dominated overmatched competition. The Vols romped over Wyoming, 47-7, and it really wasn't that close. I caught the replay of the game, and Tennessee seemed able to move the ball at will. Florida was even more dominant against UAB, 51-3. I see a fair amount of UAB, and they usually don't get badly beaten by elite competition. I mean, they're not able to win, but they manage to get a few stops and a few points. Not this week. Ole Miss, meanwhile, delivered a solid effort against Louisiana-Monroe, 31-3. The Rebels did it mostly on the ground and with defense, moreover, with Eli Manning having a subpar game. And Kentucky pulled off a fairly major upset of a ranked Louisville team, 22-17 at Louisville. While you have to figure that the in-state-rivalry factor was in play, it's still impressive.

Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina all pulled off uncomfortably narrow wins. Alabama jumped out to a 22-0 lead over Middle Tennessee, then let their opponents back into it, needing to recover an onside kick late just to pull out a 39-34 victory. Undisciplined play on the defensive side of the ball, an Alabama bugaboo for years, was a primary culprit, with penalties keeping MTSU drives alive and the defense continually losing containment on the quarterback allowing him to scramble for first downs. Georgia was outplayed on both sides of the ball by Clemson but made up for it on special teams with a touchdown return and two other scores set up by returns, and Clemson missed a late kick to tie a game that ended 31-28. Georgia couldn't run the ball effectively, which doesn't surprise me, but they couldn't throw either and the quarterback situation is up in the air. DJ Shockley outplayed incumbent David Greene (in limited action) and while they say they'll cooperate, if that happens again Mark Richt will have to make a move. South Carolina held on to beat New Mexico State 34-24. The game was close much of the way -- tied until late in the first half -- and a ranked team shouldn't have that much trouble with NMSU at home. I don't know that Lou Holtz will make any changes, but as long as USC lets everyone stick around they'll be upset-prone.

Mississippi State, Vandy, LSU, and Auburn all had losses of various severity. None were really upsets; all were road games against favored competition. But Vandy was absolutely demolished by Georgia Tech, 45-3, which is embarrassing even for the SEC's weakest program. Combined with Kentucky's upset victory even Vandy's hopes to finish out of the cellar seem remote. MSU also was demolished, but by a ranked team (Oregon) 36-13. I expected a loss, but I thought State would make a game of it. It was never close -- MSU didn't even have a first down until late in the first half. The Bulldogs' starting quarterback, Kevin Fant, was suspended by the NCAA for the game, but even with a reserve playing it shouldn't have been that bad. LSU was totally outclassed by Virginia Tech, 26-8, shutout until late in the game. They looked awful on special teams, giving up two blocked punts. The Tiger lines were pushed around, and I think they really miss Rohan Davey. Auburn played hard and kept it close against Southern Cal, but their offense fell apart in the second half. After running up and down the field in the first, they gained only 35 yards in the second half, and Carnell Williams was in and out of the lineup with cramps. That's a conditioning problem, it would appear, and no SEC team should ever have trouble with heat. USC was only able to break a 17-17 tie with a touchdown with 86 seconds remaining, but Auburn had really no chance to tie the game the way its offense was playing.


Post a Comment

<< Home