What We Learned from the SEC in Week 7 - Tucson News Now

What We Learned from the SEC in Week 7

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Georgia defensive end Sterling Bailey tackles Missouri quarterback James Franklin. (Source: Georgia Athletics) Georgia defensive end Sterling Bailey tackles Missouri quarterback James Franklin. (Source: Georgia Athletics)
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(RNN) – It's another week and there's another reason to rip Bob Stoops.

The Oklahoma coach followed up his statement that the SEC is overrated and finally has a couple of decent quarterbacks by getting flat run out of the Cotton Bowl by archrival Texas, 36-20, in a game that might have bought head coach Mack Brown another year or so in Austin.

That same Texas team, by the way, lost by 21 to Ole Miss, which didn't even score against Alabama and took the better part of three quarters to muster a touchdown against Auburn.

Much-maligned Texas, which fired its defensive coordinator after a 40-21 loss to BYU, is suddenly 3-0 in the Big XII and looking formidable. For what it's worth, Ole Miss equaled Oklahoma's total points for the game in one quarter against Texas. Yeah, the SEC is looking really weak right about now.

Just shut up.

Every season there is a weekend that destroys your knowledge of college football. This might have been it. The two biggest upsets of the season both occurred this week, Florida got pretty much dominated and Ole Miss looked competent again.

Here is the weekly list of what we learned from watching SEC games in Week 7.

1. Missouri is a dominant force that may not win another game. James Franklin (player) engineered the biggest upset of the college football season – a 41-26 win over No. 7 Georgia – just hours before unranked Utah pulled off a bigger one over No. 5 Stanford.

Such is life for Jimmy Football. Franklin hasn't been recognized because Missouri hadn't played tough competition. Then he finally gets his moment and he's overshadowed by a bigger upset. It just added insult to injury because in the fourth quarter, Franklin suffered a separated shoulder and will be out the rest of the season.

Missouri only has to play only conference games from this point, and the next two are against Florida and South Carolina. Franklin did at least get the team bowl eligible before getting hurt. It remains to be seen what Missouri does without him, but the Tigers' expectations just went way down.

It was the kind of win that would have been worth printing a T-shirt over. Now, with their dual-threat offensive pacemaker out, Missouri may have to wait for its game against Kentucky to increase its bowl status.

2. Georgia did what Georgia does. Let's stay in the same game for a minute. Mark Richt gave back whatever good will he had earned from Georgia fans with the home loss – yeah, HOME loss – to Missouri.

Georgia outgained Missouri across the board, was equal on third down and committed fewer penalties, but turned the ball over four times to Missouri's none. Game, set and match. The hot seat has been turned back on.1

Georgia is still very much alive to make the SEC championship game, but any national championship chances the Bulldogs had are now probably gone. As always, Georgia's annual game with Florida now has massive SEC championship implications.

3. Florida's offense is no longer cute. Speaking of Florida, their toughest test of the year was met with a massive thud. Previously I had revealed Florida's biggest weakness as being turnovers. Well, now we have to find a new one because the Gators didn't commit a single turnover in their 17-6 loss to LSU.

Instead, the story is about an offense that couldn't stay on the field and couldn't do much of anything when it did. The Gators threw for 115 yards, which isn't surprising, but they only ran for 111 and no player had more than 56. Add to that Florida's 6-of-17 mark on third down and the tale of offensive woe is complete.

Facing 17 third downs is a problem in itself, and converting only one-third of them is a bigger one. Eight penalties for 72 yards didn't help any, either.

The Gators did, however, win time of possession by almost nine minutes and are currently the No. 1 team in the nation in that stat. But it doesn't mean anything if you can't score.

4. Alabama is its own toughest opponent. Something is just not right about Alabama's offense and it's going undetected. After derp-ing their way through a scoreless first quarter, the Crimson Tide decided to start playing actual football and left Kentucky trampled underfoot 48-7 as expected.

When the scoreless tie was finally broken, the score was 3-0 when it could easily have been 28-0. Dropped passes plagued the Tide all game, including a crucial third down drop early on. Running backs Kenyon Drake and T.J. Yeldon both fumbled to stifle what likely would have been scoring drives, with Yeldon's coming at the 1-yard line.

Yeldon later dropped a pass when he had a clear route to the end zone and fullback Jalston Fowler dropped another on a potential touchdown. But it was actually a career-best passing day for AJ McCarron and two running backs went over 100 yards. That the Tide missed so many scoring opportunities and still put up 48 points is a testament to how bad Kentucky is rather than a statement of their greatness.

If the Crimson Tide do the same things against LSU in a few weeks (or down the road against someone like, say, Oregon) they may find themselves playing from behind. The Tide has the No. 2 scoring defense in the country, though, so they'll be in any game.

It's a testament to Alabama's recent dominance that there's even the hint of trouble right now, and that might explain the issues in games against people not named Johnny Manziel: It's just not worth putting in 100 percent effort when you don't have to.

5. Steve Spurrier was just Clowney-ing around. Remember the "controversy" over Jadeveon Clowney playing or not playing, caring or not caring, being hurt or not being hurt and Spurrier alternately questioning his commitment and praising his mere presence on Earth?

Well, you've been Spurrier'd. No one manufactures controversy, eliminates controversy, acts like there was never any controversy at all and trolls a vanquished foe quite like Visor Man.2

Spurrier's parting shot to Arkansas that getting blown out 52-7 at Homecoming was "no fun" is the greatest Spurrier troll job since he called Florida State "Free Shoes U." You get bonus points when it's a team you won't play against for, like, the rest of your career.

It still leaves all sorts of unanswered questions about how good South Carolina actually is because the evidence points toward this blowout being an anomaly rather than true-to-form – well, except for Visor Man.

Clowney, though, had only one tackle.

6. The crazy Hog Lady is no match for #karma. Liz Honey returned this week to try to spur her beloved Razorbacks to Come Together for a win over South Carolina. They lost 52-7. It's not Liz Honey's fault. Forces beyond her control are at play.3

From the Bob Stoops Foot-In-Mouth Research Center comes Exhibit B: Jen Bielema (Stoops himself is Exhibit A). Is she a good coach's wife? Sure. Does she understand football? It's possible. Is she causing untold horrors to rain mercilessly down upon the be-snouted minions of the Ozarks? Yes.

It's been four weeks since Jen Bielema, wife of Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, trolled Wisconsin fans for their referee-induced loss to Arizona State. Arkansas hasn't won a game since. The Razorbacks picked up wins over Louisiana-Lafayette, Samford and Southern Mississippi before the tweet and have lost to Rutgers, Texas A&M, Florida and South Carolina since then. The 52-7 loss to the Gamecocks was particularly disheartening after South Carolina looked vulnerable following a poor showing against Kentucky.

Is an ill-advised tweet to blame for the Hogs' misfortune? Of course not. Is that going to stop me from blaming it? Of course not.

Rule No. 1 of being a fan is don't talk trash to other people if you can't tolerate other people talking trash back to you. Rule No. 2 is don't brag about things that haven't happened yet. Rule No. 3 is now known as the Jen Bielema Rule – don't take joy in another team's misfortune without expecting misfortune to strike you back.

A better way of saying that is 3-0 looks really good when you haven't played anybody decent. The only other loss Wisconsin has on the season was 31-24 to Ohio State. The Badgers knocked off No. 19 Northwestern this week, so the karma bug has found a new victim.

But don't worry, Arkansas fans, you're next opponent is only Alabama.

7. LSU is the best team in the SEC. In related news, Les Miles is the best interview in the SEC. I mean, honest to peace, he's not a nail.

Anything that gets Les Miles fired up is a good thing and LSU's 17-6 win over Florida did that. Zach Mettenberger had a pedestrian 152 yards passing, but LSU only attempted 17 throws, completing nine. However, the Tigers ran for 175 yards with 121 coming from Jeremy Hill and kept Florida's offense from having any success.

It was kind of like a hammer and a nail, but don't tell that to Miles.

8. Bo Wallace knows near misses. Last year, Ole Miss almost pulled off an inexplicable win over Texas A&M. Saturday, the Rebels almost did it again.

Wallace threw for 301 yards and three touchdowns, but with time winding down and facing an opportunity to mount a game-winning drive, Ole Miss faltered. It was the second straight year the Rebels lost to A&M by a field goal.

The teams combined for more points in the fourth quarter than they had in the previous three combined. Wallace also ran for 27 yards and led the Rebels to a first half touchdown for the first time in four weeks.

Ole Miss was penalized for targeting on A&M's final drive, but the ejection was overturned on review. It was the second time in the game an Ole Miss player had been ejected for targeting and then re-instated following a review. The two penalties accounted for 30 of the Rebels' 65 total penalty yards.4

9. Johnny Manziel knows how to avoid near misses. Johnny Offense kept the Aggies from committing six turnovers like they did last year against Ole Miss and did what he's famous for by throwing for 346 yards and running for 124.

Manziel, however, did not throw for a touchdown. All five of the Aggies' scores came on the ground – two from Manziel, two from Trey Williams and one from Ben Malena.

A&M found itself down by a touchdown for the second time in the fourth quarter with about six minutes to play and Manziel stopped throwing stupid passes, forgot that he was wearing a knee brace and became Johnny Football again.

He led the Aggies to a tying touchdown and later a last-second field goal, even running for a crucial first down during the drive. It was a similar comeback to 2012 when Manziel orchestrated two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to erase a 10-point deficit to win by three over the Rebels.

10. Mississippi State needs to get its offense together. The Bulldogs struggled to a 21-20 win over Bowling Green and got 100 yards passing from one quarterback and 75 yards passing and 130 rushing from another. I mentioned this kind of haphazardly last week, but I'm going to take a full stab at it here. It's long overdue for me to tell somebody to run the Notre Dame Box, so here goes.

Let me preface this by saying I have almost no clue as to how the Notre Dame Box actually worked, so be advised that reading the rest of this column is purely a waste of your time. Now that that's out of the way, here we go.

First of all, the rules of modern football make the original Notre Dame Box illegal, so already this is a failed idea, but considering Mississippi State is committed to a two-quarterback system, and one of those quarterbacks is the team's leading rusher, I'm christening my suggestion as the double-barreled shotgun. It's Notre Dame Box-inspired, but acknowledges the existence of the forward pass.

I think the Bulldogs would be better served by putting both quarterbacks in the backfield at the same time – one on either side of a running back who lines up behind the center – and alternately snapping the ball to all three.

One guy is almost exclusively a passer, one is almost exclusively a runner and the third guy can do both. The read option plays are endless, and the potential for the development of the quadruple option (read option handoff, QB keeper, option pitch and pass) makes this a truly must-see scheme. The only thing that would make it better would be if one the backs threw left-handed.

You can run it with two tight ends for a power T effect or even trade out the running back for a receiver and go four wide. This is either a stroke of genius or abject stupidity – there is no middle ground. Either way, I think it would be fun to watch.5

Does anybody have Dan Mullen's phone number? Or Urban Meyer's?

Extra points: 1I'm really starting to think Mark Richt has an undiagnosed medical condition and needs the hot seat for treatment. Call it CBS – Cold Butt Syndrome. Symptoms include unexplained decisions, snippiness in press conferences, lack of consistency and fear of job security.

2Spurrier'd is kind of like MTV's Punk'd only entertaining. Visor Man is the main prankster and all he does is lie to people's faces and argue with the cameraman for 30 minutes before revealing the truth and throwing a visor with razor blades on the edge at your foot, slicing off your pinky toe. I don't know what this says about me, but I'd watch that show.

3Liz Honey is apparently a big fan of fall because her fireplace is festooned with pumpkins. Her new accessory is a comically oversized bowtie. She also appears to be trying to help raise awareness of breast cancer by wearing a "Pink Cure" shirt. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

4The targeting rule continues to be a disaster. I went in depth on this two weeks ago, and the criticism just keeps mounting up. A New York Times columnist weighed in against it this week, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini invoked the Seinfeld Bizarro World defense of an ejection that was upheld despite very tenuous evidence, Bleacher Report produced a video takedown piece of the rule and CBSSports.com's Jeremy Fowler supported it using unverified stats provided by the NCAA, who put the rule in place. Those numbers claim only 10 ejections have been overturned all season, which seems unbelievably low. (Three were overturned in Week 1 alone).

5If you throw in David Letterman's idea that if you get three consecutive first downs you get to use two balls for a play, then we have revolutionized football.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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