Monday, September 16, 2002

SEC play started this weekend, though most of the conference was content to prey upon assumed patsies. The big game was a remarkably ugly affair between Georgia and South Carolina, won by the visiting Bulldogs 13-7. The game delayed by lightning and later played in a downpour, and neither offense ever really got going. Georgia's touchdown came on a pass deflected and intercepted in the Gamecock endzone, which gives you some idea. Though they won, Georgia (now #8 in the AP rankings) has to be concerned about its offense, which in two games has yet to put on a really sustained touchdown drive and accounted for only 190 yards in the first half. Both teams are now headed towards the dreaded quarterback controversy, made all the more acute by the fact that none of the four quarterbacks has looked like he can play.

Auburn throttled Vanderbilt, 31-6; I'll lay off Auburn this week since they didn't have any choice but to play the Commodores, though the musical group would be just about as much of a test. Carnell Williams ran 20 times for 169 yards and two touchdowns, and he still isn't 100 percent healthy. If he ever is, Auburn will be dangerous even if they never do find their passing game. As for Vandy, I again ask why they're in the league. They didn't get exactly blown off the field, despite the final score, but they turned the ball over four times to Auburn's one, and obviously Vandy can't stick with the big boys if they do that.

Ole Miss played the most credible out-of-conference opponent, a road game at Texas Tech. And they lost, as the SEC has lost most of its top nonconference games so far, 42-28. Eli Manning threw the ball 57 times, completing 34, and generally gave the impression of his father on any given Sunday afternoon. Ole Miss outgained Tech by almost 200 yards, and turnovers were even, but still lost by two touchdowns. You explain it.

Florida struggled early in the rain but eventually pulled away to easily defeat Ohio, 34-6. Meanwhile, LSU took on Miami of Ohio and won 33-7, but I still don't know if they're any good. Arkansas pummelled South Florida, 42-3. Alabama is now 2-0 against the Sun Belt after crushing North Texas 33-7 in a game that but for badly timed turnovers could have easily been 48-0. Kentucky continued to impress, taking out Indiana 27-17 and moving to 3-0. Mississippi State wins the Pathetic Opponent award this week for 1-AA Jacksonville State (from near Anniston, Alabama), whom the Bulldogs beat 51-13.

Tennessee played mighty Idle U to a scoreless tie, in preparation for next week's showdown with Florida. Auburn and MSU will clash, with Alabama stepping up from the Sun Belt to Conference USA to take on Southern Miss, always a handful. The rest of the conference plays the usual assortment of nonconference patsies or (in the case of Ole Miss) Vanderbilt, or takes a turn against Idle themselves.


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