The Rebel’s yell was squelched by the Tiger’s roar in Death Valley. The Ole Miss dream of rocking the SEC West ended in Baton Rouge. Meanwhile, LSU has the look of a team figuring things out under first year coach Brian Kelly. Alabama’s defense has written the book on shutting down Mike Leach’s air-raid offense at Mississippi State, and they just completed another chapter. The Jimbo Fisher train at Texas A&M continues to go off the rails in marvelous fashion. We can all hope it continues.
Back To Reality
Pundits have questioned the strength of the Ole Miss schedule and how they would handle a true road test – LSU’s famed Death Valley answered. The fans feared for a defense that struggled to get off the field in recent weeks and an offense that has the tendency to disappear for stretches. All of these questions and fears were answered in alarming fashion.
The Rebels looked to be in control early in the game, scoring on the first three drives to take a 17-3 lead. That’s where the positives ended. Jaxon Dart missed a wide-open Jonathan Mingo in the second quarter which would have extended the Rebels lead and possibly changed the outcome of the game. LSU took the lead in the third quarter and the Rebels responded with a long drive – only to throw an interception in the endzone.
You want to know how much crowd noise can affect a game? Kiffin gave an insightful breakdown of this play during his weekly press conference. The tackle was turned, trying to relay the call to the TE, so he couldn’t hear the QB’s snap cadence. The ball was snapped, and his man went untouched, nailing Dart and enabling him to step into the throw on the fade route. The result – an under thrown pick in the endzone. This is a textbook example of how much of an impact a deafening crowd can have on a game. From that point forward, the route was on. The team and crowd smelled blood as LSU closed the final 3 quarters on a 42-7 run.
It only took one week for the Rebel’s glaring weakness on defense to cost them dearly. They struggle against QB’s who can extend plays running. Lucky for them, they get to face three more mobile QB’s in their final four games. LSU’s QB Jayden Daniels took the blueprint started by Auburn’s Robbie Ashford the previous week and ran with it – literally. More alarming, the Rebel offense couldn’t answer the bell when it was most needed. Dart is young and will get better, but Saturday was one of those nasty life lessons that road games in the SEC tend to provide.
Ole Miss better figure things out quickly. They have Texas A&M in the land of weird before getting an off week. We will get to see an unmovable object meet a movable force – that’s A&M’s offense vs the Rebel defense. Then, perennial cupcake Alabama rolls into town – good times – get your popcorn… eh, never mind. The Rebels close out with Arkansas and rival Mississippi State on Thanksgiving. It appears the A&M game is the easiest one left, so the Rebs better hope they can rebound in College Station, or the dream season could turn into a nightmare quickly.
The other side to the equation of the Rebel’s meltdown in Death Valley is that LSU might be starting to figure things out. Jayden Daniels looks more comfortable each week in Brian Kelly’s offense, and there is no doubt Ed Orgeron left talent on the Bayou. There are 38 four- & five-star caliber players on that roster. LSU’s game with Alabama, which didn’t look like a big deal a few weeks ago, now looks a little more formidable for the Tide. Both teams get an off week before the they square off in, where else – Death Valley.
Nothing To Plunder
Mississippi State scored their first touchdown in Tuscaloosa since 2014. That was about the only positive coming out of their game with the Tide. State’s defense did keep it respectable, but they simply couldn’t get anything going offensively. Will Rodgers was 30/60 passing and averaged 3.9 yards a completion. That means his receivers were catching it short and having to make multiple plays to make anything happen. That’s not a great formula against bigger / faster athletes.
Leach is 0-3 in covering the spread against Alabama during his time in Starkville. For the non-gambling savvy, that means it hasn’t been particularly close. The Pirate is the best quote in all of football and it’s not debatable – see his latest rant on players losing their hands and ending up like dinosaurs. Seriously, I would rather listen to his press conference over any coach in the country.
He is also light years away from truly competing in the top of the SEC. He doesn’t recruit at a high enough level to overcome the elite SEC defenses – most of which have figured out his scheme. Hence the 3.9-yard completion percentage on 30 completed passes.
The question in Starkville is how long do you put up with the entertainment without the production? State has an off week before catching Auburn at home. That is a game they can win. Then they get Georgia, one they can’t. They finish off with a cupcake before facing Ole Miss. We know anything can happen in the Egg Bowl, and State is due in that series. State has a shot in three of their last four games. But they could just as easily drop all three – maybe not Auburn, they really suck. But say he loses to Ole Miss for a third straight year, what then? That is not a good recipe for job security in Starkville, regardless of how funny you are. In summation, it appears the entire football loving state of Mississippi needs to buckle up for what could be an unpredictable and wild November.
Beamer Ball Beats Jimbo
What in the Hanky Panky is going on in Aggie land? As painful as it was for the entire state of Mississippi, nothing compares to the clown show in College Station. Texas A&M is paying over $100 million for a coach, and reportedly dropped $30 million more on a recruiting class, to have a losing record a little over midway through the season. They have now lost 4 straight games to unranked teams. I can’t imagine the folks writing the checks in Aggieland are thrilled with these results.
Even if they beat Ole Miss this weekend, the season will be viewed as an utter disaster. One must question, “How much money do they have in the land of oil fields, and are they willing to stroke a few more of those supersized checks if the wheels continue to fall off?”
Half the league was off, so the ramblings were short this week. Blame scheduling.
Pettey’s Not So Scientific SEC Rankings
- Georgia – Playing no one makes it seem as if they never play.
- Tennessee – There was no post-Bama hangover for Vols.
- Alabama – Licking their chops at the chance to play one of those above.
- LSU – Already started the “We Want Bama” chants… always works out.
- Ole Miss – Rebels better buckle up for murderous back half.
- Kentucky – As long as Levis is healthy they are a threat.
- Mississippi State – Leach talking dinosaurs now… here we go!
- Arkansas – Again see Kentucky. The difference is Kentucky plays defense.
- South Carolina – No more Viagra jokes, they are actually ranked. However, they have beaten no one with a pulse.
- Texas A&M – Yell Practice should be super hype for Kiffin.
- Florida – I guess you could flip them with A&M, but does it matter?
- Auburn – Football season is over in Auburn, it’s coach search season now.
- Missouri – They played Vanderbilt last week. You probably didn’t know that.
- Vanderbilt – They lost to Missouri; I assume you didn’t know that either. It was a pillow fight.
As always, I hope you have a magical Saturday and thanks for reading!