Fourteen thoughts after Week Five: Georgia's dominance, LSU's meltdown, Tennessee's offense and MSU's crazy season
Chris Lee • 10/3/2021 in Football
Here are 14 thoughts following the fifth week of SEC football.
Alabama’s defense flipped a switch against Ole Miss. Alabama’s defense slipped some last year and didn’t look outstanding against Florida last week. But never underestimate Nick Saban, and Saturday showed why as Alabama’s game with the Rebels was basically over by halftime. The Crimson Tide really won the battle in the trenches, got stops at every key moment gave Matt Corral little time with its pass rush and covered everything downfield. "We got dominated up front," Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said. "It wasn’t hard to see. I’m sure you saw it out there watching. Matt didn’t have very much time. We had negative runs, guys in the backfield, so again that’s us not doing a good job and it’s also a credit to a really good defense."
Georgia 99, The SEC 0. That’s the Bulldogs’ scoring margin through games against Vanderbilt and Arkansas. In those two games, Georgia’s rolled up 884 yards to its opponents’ 220.
This one showed how physically talented the Georgia defense really is. Coming into Saturday, the Bulldogs hadn’t played a great offense yet (previous opponents: Clemson, UAB, South Carolina and Vanderbilt). Then came Arkansas, and the Bulldogs simply wouldn’t allow the Razorbacks to get anything going, especially on the ground (2.6 yards per carry). The Razorbacks have asserted physical dominance over opponents much of the year, but the Bulldogs weren’t having any of it Saturday.
And the Bulldogs drilled Arkansas without JT Daniels. Daniels has had both oblique and lat issues and didn’t play against the Razorbacks. In hindsight, perhaps the Bulldogs should have sat Daniels in their drubbing of Vanderbilt a week ago.
Take a bow, Bo Nix. One week after being benched, Auburn’s embattled quarterback finally delivered the kind of performance Tiger fans dreamed of when Nix signed with Auburn as a five-star recruit. Nix threw for 255 yards and ran for 74 and a score in Auburn’s 24-19 win at LSU.
LSU fans are ready for coach Ed Orgeron to be gone. It was easy to guess that loser of Saturday’s LSU-Auburn game would have a fan base meltdown, and sure enough, LSU’s had one. The fact it’s time Auburn’s won in Death Valley since 1999 didn’t help.
Another SEC assistant didn’t survive the weekend. Last weekend, it was Auburn firing wide receivers coach Cornelius Williams. This weekend, Missouri axed defensive line coach Jethro Franklin after Tennessee’s 62-24 win in Columbia this weekend. The Vols piled up 683 yards of offense, including 458 on the ground (7.8 per carry).
Florida beat itself in Lexington. With all due respect to Kentucky (I’ll get there in a minute), a team should win a game in which it out-gains the other one 382-224 and allows just 13 first downs. The Gators didn’t, because they gave up a blocked field goal for a score and were penalized 15 times for 115 yards. The deafening crowd in Lexington had a lot do do with that, as UF had eight false starts.
Kentucky could end up with double-digit wins before a bowl game. The Wildcats are ranked this week and may not be going away any time soon. The ‘Cats figure to be favored against LSU and outside an Oct. 16 game against Georgia, may not be an underdog again this season, though an Oct. 30 game at Mississippi State could be an exception.
MSU’s roller-coaster season continues. MSU’s 26-22 win over Texas A&M was the second time the Bulldogs have won as an underdog this season as quarterback Will Rogers completed an incredible 46-of-59 passes for 408 yards. State’s also lost as an underdog to Memphis, and without a miracle comeback, would have lost as a 20-point favorite to Louisiana Tech.
How will Texas A&M respond now that a lot of its preseason goals have been dashed. The Aggies had College Football Playoff aspirations before the season; those are all gone with A&M’s two losses. The Aggies still can’t find an offense (297 yards on Saturday) and now have the unenviable task of facing Alabama on next week.
Lost in the the bludgeoning Missouri handed Tennessee was the Vol defense. Running back Tyler Badie had been one of the SEC’s best players coming in; Badie had averaged 6.3 yards per rush and gained 417 yards on the ground, and the Vols held him to 21 carries for 41 yards. Meanwhile, quarterback Connor Bazelak was picked twice. Tennessee led 45-10 at the half and the Tigers didn’t get a stop until 10:18 remained.
South Carolina’s made a nice defensive turnaround in coach Shane Beamer’s first year. Last year, Carolina allowed 36.0 points and 452 yards per game. After Saturday’s 23-14 win over Troy, those numbers are 17.4 points and 304 points a game. The Gamecocks have also forced 14 turnovers after getting four more on Saturday.
This weekend brought good news for Vandy, but also a sobering reality. The Commodores need a win against anyone right now, and Saturday’s 30-28 win over Connecticut provided that. Still, UConn’s so bad that Vanderbilt was a 14.5-point favorite coming in. The Huskies—who may be the country’s worst FBS program—looked a bit faster and stronger in the trenches, which tells you just how far coach Clark Lea has to go as he rebuilds a broken program.