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Week Six SEC Recap

By Matt Smith
SouthernPigskin.com
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Looking back at week six in the SEC.

Scores

(5) Georgia 45, Vanderbilt 14
(12) Auburn 44, Ole Miss 23
LSU 17, (21) Florida 16
South Carolina 48, Arkansas 22
(1) Alabama 27, Texas A&M 19
Kentucky 40, Missouri 34

10 Things I Learned

-Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson is now the SEC’s all-time leading scorer. Coming into Saturday, Carlson trailed three former Georgia kickers – Blair Walsh, Billy Bennett and Marshall Morgan for the career lead. Three field goals and five points after touchdown later, and Carlson had taken down all three Bulldogs, also helping the Tigers to an easy 44-23 win over Ole Miss. Carlson got off to a bit of a rocky start in his senior season, but has steadied the ship and earned his well-deserved place in SEC history.

-It was only a matter of time before Sam Pittman had the Georgia offensive line clicking, but I thought it was going to take until 2018. That’s not the case, as the Bulldogs running game is now gashing opponents on a weekly basis. Some of the credit is due to an outstanding backfield, but the offensive line is due its just praise, keeping things nice and easy for true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm. Pittman is one of the best offensive line coaches in the business (and a heck of a recruiter), so it shouldn’t be a big surprise, but I admit I was skeptical of a unit that has been a perennial underachiever.

-There is a lot to parse from Florida’s disappointing performance in its loss to LSU, but you have to feel for all-conference punter Johnny Townsend, who botched the hold on what would have been the game-tying extra point late in the third quarter. Neither team scored again, and the Gators dropped an emotional, physical affair to the now-hated Tigers. Townsend leads the SEC in punting again this season, and helped keep LSU off the scoreboard for the final quarter-and-a-half by flipping field position. However, his big mistake cost the Gators in a game they desperately wanted.

-Bret Bielema still isn’t getting fired this season. It probably sounds like a broken record at this point, but the financial ramifications and the stable relationship between Bielema and athletic director Jeff Long make a severing of ties a longshot. That doesn’t condone another poor performance from the Razorbacks in Saturday’s 48-22 throttling by South Carolina. This is a bad team that can’t run the football nor play a lick of defense. After upcoming massacres by Alabama and Auburn, it will be time to start focusing on 2018 during the season’s final month.

-Kyle Shurmur again showed in defeat that he’s one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC. Facing a top-five defense in the country for the second time in three weeks, the Vanderbilt quarterback hung tough against Georgia, avoiding turnovers and executing a 75-yard touchdown drive – the first by an FBS team against the Bulldogs in 12 quarters – to give the Commodores life right before halftime. 17-of-31 for 172 yards and a touchdown isn’t an award-winning stat line, but with the running game again doing nothing, Shurmur’s mettle in navigating a brutal four-game gauntlet should be commended.

-Alabama was sloppy, disinterested, cocky, undisciplined, and downright awful on Saturday night at Texas A&M? There you go, Nick. Are you happy now? Like Dabo Swinney gets away with hokeyness that Butch Jones can’t, Nick Saban gets away with what less successful coaches like Brian Kelly can’t, bashing the media for effusive praise of his team, calling it rat poison. This “praise” came on the heels of 59-0 and 66-3 wins over SEC opponents. Yes, the 27-19 win in College Station wasn’t crisp, particularly on offense, but Alabama was a wide-open drop by Robert Foster from going ahead 31-3 and sending the Aggies fans home early. When you make nearly eight figures, you can tell your team that we don’t know anything (which is true), and they haven’t won anything yet.

-Is there a softer 5-1 resume than what Kentucky has put together? The Wildcats have wins by seven over Southern Miss, 11 over Eastern Kentucky, 10 over South Carolina (a really nice win), four over Eastern Michigan, and six over Missouri. Kentucky will take 5-1 however it can get it, but this team really hasn’t done anything yet, especially given its breakdowns in blowing a lead to Florida in its only loss. Mississippi State, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt lie ahead. If this team is legitimate, it will go 3-1 in that stretch.

-Back to College Station, where Texas A&M should be commended for a quality performance against Alabama. Yes, the game was an Alabama blunder away from being 31-3 and over late in the third quarter, but even without the late comeback, the Aggies challenged the Crimson Tide. I still think Kevin Sumlin is probably best served to move on after the season, but he has this Aggies team doing what his past teams haven’t and getting better as the season goes along. If Texas A&M can carry Saturday’s performance forward and win at Florida next week before the bye, nine wins is very possible. That seemed the exact opposite of possible after the loss to UCLA and subsequent poor performances in ugly wins. I’ll be quite interested to see how this team plays next Saturday night in The Swamp.

-LSU’s offense finally looked like what coordinator Matt Canada wants to do, heavily utilizing the motions and shifts that head coach Ed Orgeron put the kibosh on in last week’s loss to Troy. Danny Etling isn’t a good quarterback, and the Tigers will be fortunate to match Saturday’s 17 points next week against Auburn without a non-offensive score, but Orgeron at least wised up and let Canada do what he was hired to do. LSU invested quite a bit of emotional capital against Florida given the shenanigans of last year. Orgeron has a tough task this week getting his team ready to go in another huge game against Auburn.

-I expected Missouri to play its best game of the season (which is still a pretty low bar) on Saturday at Kentucky, and the Tigers did just that, driving deep into Wildcats territory before running out of time, due in part to an officiating mistake. Missouri outgained Kentucky by more than a yard per play, but was done in by two lost fumbles and red zone issues. The bye week clearly helped, and head coach Barry Odom hasn’t lost the team. Forget winning at Georgia next week, but Missouri is capable of winning each of its final six games. The worst team in the SEC? Yes. One of the worst SEC teams of all time? No way.

SEC Coach Hate Rankings

Another shuffle in the top five, but No. 1 remains the same for the third straight week.

1. Tennessee
2. Arkansas
3. Missouri
4. Florida
5. LSU
6. Ole Miss
7. Texas A&M
8. Kentucky
9. Mississippi State
10. Vanderbilt
11. Auburn
12. South Carolina
13. Georgia
14. Alabama

Around The Nation

The five non-SEC results that shocked me the most:

1. Iowa State 38, Oklahoma 31
2. Arizona 45, Colorado 42
3. Tulane 62, Tulsa 28
4. Michigan State 14, Michigan 10
5. Bowling Green 37, Miami (OH) 29

-Forced to play both quarterback and linebacker, Iowa State’s Joel Lanning guided the biggest upset of the young season at Oklahoma. Lanning finished with 35 rushing yards, two completions, four tackles and a sack. Two-way players are two generations removed, but a throwback effort is always awesome to see.

-Miami’s 24-20 win over Florida State may have been the best game I’ve seen this season. The lead changed hands three times in the final six minutes, with the ‘Canes scoring on a 23-yard touchdown pass with six seconds remaining. Miami improved to 4-0, while the Seminoles, who started the season ranked No. 3, are now 1-3 with games remaining with Louisville, Clemson and Florida. It’s great to see this rivalry back where it belongs after two wild finishes the past two seasons.

-On a day in which it honored UAB Children’s Hospital patients with their names on the back of the jerseys, UAB improved to 3-2 in its first year back from a two-year hiatus with an upset of Louisiana Tech on a blocked field goal on the final play. It’s impossible to put into words the job head coach Bill Clark has done both before, during and after the temporary cut of the football program. A bowl game, which would be just the second in school history, is well within reach.

-Happy Birthday to the great Bill Snyder, who turned 78 on Saturday. He couldn’t celebrate with a win, as Kansas State fell in double overtime to Texas, 40-34.

-Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio improved to 10-5 in his last 15 games against Michigan and Ohio State after the Spartans’ 14-10 turnover-aided win at Michigan. The Wolverines offense is broken, but for Michigan State to win in Ann Arbor after a 3-9 disaster last season shows Dantonio still has his magic touch. Penn State has to visit East Lansing next month, and a week later the Spartans go to Columbus. Don’t be surprised if Saturday night wasn’t Dantonio’s last top-10 upset of the season.

-Kudos to Virginia, which improved to 4-1 with a 28-21 win over Duke. Struggling North Carolina and Boston College are up next, so the Cavaliers have a great chance to start 6-1 after winning just six games in the past two seasons combined.

-Navy is 5-0 and in the AP Top 25. Ken Niumatalolo just doing what he does in Annapolis once again.

-A great read by Adam Jude of the Seattle Times on this week’s spat between Washington head coach Chris Petersen and ESPN regarding kickoff times, despite Petersen never once referencing ESPN in his apologies to his fanbase for having six straight night kickoffs to start the season. Petersen is known for his restrictive media access, likely causing the cheap shots by taken by various ESPN personnel on Saturday.

-Boston College dropped its 10th straight ACC home game on Saturday night, falling 23-10 in Virginia Tech. Steve Addazio hasn’t done a bad job in four-plus seasons in Chestnut Hill, going to three bowl games in four years, but that’s a damning stat for a program that struggles with attendance even when it’s winning.

Top 25

Because the AP voters annoy me on a weekly basis [multiple voters ranked Michigan ahead of Michigan State (who just beat Michigan 14-10 in Ann Arbor), and Michigan State ahead of Notre Dame (which beat Michigan State by 20 points in East Lansing], I’m expanding to a full Top 25 this week. You can find a logical fallacy in almost every ballot, including mine but the laziness in voting drives me nuts (yes, I know polls are meaningless). Here you go:

1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Georgia
4. TCU
5. Penn State
6. Washington State
7. Miami (FL)
8. Auburn
9. Oklahoma
10. Washington
11. Wisconsin
12. Ohio State
13. USC
14. Notre Dame
15. Oklahoma State
16. San Diego State
17. Michigan State
18. N.C. State
19. Michigan
20. Virginia Tech
21. UCF
22. Stanford
23. USF
24. Texas Tech
25. West Virginia

Week 7 SEC Order of Preference

1.   No. 10 Auburn at LSU (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)
2.   Texas A&M at Florida (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
3.   South Carolina at Tennessee (Noon ET, SEC Network)
4.   Vanderbilt at Ole Miss (3:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network)
5.   Arkansas at No. 1 Alabama (7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Week 7 National Order of Preference

1.   No. 6 TCU at Kansas State (Noon ET, FS1)
2.   No. 10 Auburn at LSU
3.   No. 12 Oklahoma vs. Texas (at Dallas) (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
4.   Georgia Tech at No. 11 Miami (FL) (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
5.   Utah at No. 13 USC (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Matt Smith - Matt is a 2007 graduate of Notre Dame and has spent most of his life pondering why most people in the Mid-Atlantic actually think there are more important things than college football. He has blogged for College Football News, covering both national news as well as Notre Dame and the service academies. He credits Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel for his love of college football and tailgating at Florida, Tennessee, and Auburn for his love of sundresses. Matt covers the ACC as well as the national scene.