Another week in the books, this one nowhere near as wild as the one that preceded it. Below are our views on all of last week’s SEC action plus some quick snippets on preseason SEC predictions, Mississippi State’s arrival at the crossroads, Nick Saban pulling a Mike Shula (yes, really), and Tennessee’s cruel, cruel schedule.
Ladies and gentlemen, your weekend wrap…
Mississippi State 28, Kentucky 22 (Our Prediction: Mississippi State 30-21)
There were plenty of empty seats to be seen around Davis-Wade Stadium last Thursday. Those Bulldogs looking to remain positive can tell themselves that the empties were only empty due to the weeknight kickoff. The reality probably has something to do with Dan Mullen’s record against good teams. Until last year, State fans had barked whenever we mentioned the Dogs’ flair for beating up on creampuffs. This year, it seems some of the folks in maroon are starting to tire of the pastries, too. Those who did show up managed to violate the SEC noise-maker policy by breaking the so-called Cowbell Compromise and ringing them during play. Might an SEC fine be in store for MSU? In a game between the SEC’s cellar-dwellers — Kentucky’s now lost a dozen conference games in a row — just a few things stood out. First, Kentucky didn’t quit. Even with an offense that average less than five yards per pass attempt, UK managed to hang around. Second, State’s quarterback rotation appears to be a thing of the past. Dak Prescott played the vast majority of the game throwing 34 passes to Tyler Russell’s two. And third, a big hand for Bulldog receiver Jameon Lewis who threw for a touchdown, caught a pass for a score, and ran for another. Little guy (5-9), big night.
Texas A&M 56, Vanderbilt 24 (Our Prediction: Texas A&M 47-27)
The Aggies had a banged-up Johnny Manziel. The Commodores had a redshirt freshman QB making his first start. That’s not real fair. Playing with a sore shoulder, Johnny Football ran less (four carries, 11 yards) but threw just as well as ever. All told he completed 25-of-35 for 305 yards, four touchdowns and just one INT. It was gritty performance by the redshirt sophomore whose play this fall has more been far more worthy of attention than the off-field nonsense and shenanigans of last summer. Patton Robinette, the youthful QB for Vandy looked like a guy making his first start. On the road. He was 15-of-28 for 216 with one score and two picks, one of which opened the floodgates just after halftime. Vandy trailed just 28-17, but Howard Matthews’ 26-yard pick return for a score just seven seconds into the third quarter dashed the Dores’ hopes. Vanderbilt is just 1-4 in SEC play and the significance of the team’s win over Georgia last week looks larger by the second. How much shine would James Franklin’s halo have if the Commodores were sitting at 0-5 in the SEC right now?
Alabama 45, Tennessee 10 (Our Prediction: Alabama 38-10)
Another year, another blowout of the Vols by the Tide. Tennessee had shown improvement in its previous two outings against Georgia and South Carolina. Saturday the Vols learned that Georgia and South Carolina aren’t Alabama. While SEC fans will scream for schedule changes and UT fans will bemoan the loss, the most important Alabama/Tennessee contest to Butch Jones is being waged off the field. Both schools are ranked in the top five in most national recruiting rankings. For Jones to make the Vols more competitive with Bama next October, he’ll need hang with them on signing day in February. The Crimson Tide continued its incredible roll by pulverizing yet another SEC foe. Bama has beaten Ole Miss, Kentucky and Arkansas by a combined score of 170-17. (A bright side for Tennessee? They scored 10 of those 17.) The Crimson Tide played a full 60 minutes on Saturday — more on that in a second — and their fans stuck around as well, just as Nick Saban had demanded. Bama players said after the game that they’d felt disrespected by Tennessee’s decision to call them “the red team” during UT’s practices. That just goes to show that players will spin or twist anything in an effort to create extra motivation. If the coach of Team X says Team is “very, very good,” you can be sure the players on Team Y will say, “They don’t respect us for being great.”
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