The midway point of the regular season is upon us, and the SEC landscape is starting to take shape. In this past week of action we saw:
- The total dismantling of Tennessee and Butch Jones at the hands of Georgia
- The beginnings of another failed Ed Orgeron experiment
- Nick Saban and the Alabama train keep rolling
- Another impressive Auburn outing
All that being said, we know that things could change in a week, but that’s what makes it all fun. Let’s look at this week’s story lines to watch.
Ole Miss at No. 12 Auburn
Noon ET; SEC Network
Last week, Alabama stomped a mud hole in Ole Miss and walked it dry. The Tide rolled over the (now-Landsharks?), beating them 66-3 and smothered a once high-powered offense. Shea Patterson completed less than 50 percent of his passes, threw 2 interceptions and averaged only five yards a play through the air. However, Ole Miss’s offense wasn’t completely stagnant, and it did see nice production from running back Jordan Wilkins, who carried the ball 12 times for 100 yards with a long 44-yarder in the third quarter. Look for the Rebels to lean on the run game more from here on out to help take weight off of their young quarterback’s shoulders.
Auburn looks like it’s finally putting everything together on both sides of the ball. Against Mississippi State, Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham was accurate and smart with the football in his hands. The sophomore completed 13-of-16 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns, and it seems like he’s beginning to look like the star that everyone had predicted him to be. However, a Gus Malzahn offense is nothing without its featured back, and Kerryon Johnson is doing his part. Johnson put together a 116 yard, three-touchdown performance on the ground in Auburn’s 49-10 win over the Bulldogs. Ole Miss provides the Tigers the first measuring-stick opponent for comparison with Alabama, so look for them to show some muscle and provide a big win.
LSU at No. 21 Florida
3:30 p.m. ET; CBS
The Bayou Bengals lost an ugly 24-21 game at home last week to Troy. Yes, Troy. LSU trailed the whole game, including staring down a 17-0 deficit in the third quarter before the offense was able to get the ball across the goal line. Troy ran the ball 35 times for 216 yards and all three of its touchdowns against what was supposed to be an elite defense. Ed Orgeron needs to figure something out on offense if he wants to salvage his season and get the Tiger fan base back on board.
Meanwhile, heading in seemingly the opposite direction, Florida hosts the Tigers on a three-game winning streak after a 38-24 win over Vanderbilt. To make matters worse for LSU, the Gators leaned heavily on the run game en route to the win. Malik Davis ran 17 times for 124 yards and two scores, while Lamical Perine added on 58 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Feleipe Franks worked out 185 yards through the air on 10 completions at the quarterback spot. With Florida looking to extend its hold on first place in the division with a win this weekend, Orgeron will have a battle on his hands to get LSU back in the win column.
No. 1 Alabama at Texas A&M
7:15 p.m. ET; ESPN
Texas A&M was able to work out another 4th quarter comeback last week, outscoring South Carolina 14-0 in the final frame to win 24-17 and improve to 4-1 overall. Kellen Mond continues to be the heart of Aggie offense, and he showed it by accounting for 254 total yards (159 passing, 95 rushing) in the win. Keith Ford added 70 yards and two scores on the ground to help lift the Aggie offense. However, going up against a stifling defense like Alabama’s means Kevin Sumlin’s squad is going to need a lot more production out of its athletes.
As mentioned before, the Tide beat quite the crap out of Ole Miss last week, 66-3, and they were trying not to score in the fourth quarter. Jalen Hurts accounted for 298 yards and three touchdowns on offense, but the defense was the real star of the show once again, shutting down Ole Miss from start to finish. The ‘Bama defense forced two interceptions and held the Rebels to a remarkable 0 for 13 on third down tries, and even took things a step further by holding them to 0 for 2 on fourth down. Look for the nation’s undisputed No. 1 team to unleash a whooping for the sixth consecutive week and hold the Aggies to a less-than-stellar performance.