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Around the SEC This Week

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There's nothing like a good cupcake to allow you to watch a lot of other games on a Saturday night even while your team is on. That's not to say that I gave up on the Tigers Saturday, that's not true. But I did find myself flipping back and forth between the USC-Vandy and LSU-WVU games a lot. Face it. They were more interesting. Damn, if Vandy only knew how to catch when they were on offense instead of just defense. I could say that I was scouting for the coming weeks but the truth is I just wasn't interested in watching Auburn go through the motions with a nobody--even if that nobody rolled up more first downs than we did. My three and a half hour investment on the TV wasn't worth it--nor would have been the ten-hour one driving down. There are few games where gas prices trump ticket prices but FAU was one of them.

I'm sure many of you caught most of Alabama-Arky and LSU-WVU. There couldn't have been a more dominant showing by both winning teams anywhere in CFB Saturday. R-Kansas never had a chance. The Tide completely shut down Tyler Wilson, the same kid that relieved Ryan Mallett last year, passing for over 400 yards against us between them. LSU thoroughly dominated the Mountaineers, who probably had something to prove, having been reportedly rebuffed by both the ACC and SEC last week. Boy, that kind of rejection could lead to burning the whole living room and bedroom suits.

The couch-burners rallied late, but LSU quickly stamped out their hopes solidly in the 4th quarter. LSU's offense continues to ring up big yards and points, something I'm completely surprised over. I knew they had the defense, but they look like a complete football team, and I think it fitting that they jumped Oklahoma in the AP poll this week to #1. Screw the conventional wisdom that says you don't punish teams that win, especially relatively early in the season. Oklahoma struggled with SEC suitor Missouri, but it wouldn't have mattered in my book. LSU looked that strong. If you can come up with a credible theory about how the West (and probably SEC) title isn't decided in Tuscaloosa on November 5th, I'd love to hear it. My money would be on LSU at this point, but I still think that Baton Rouge's love affair with Les Miles could still be easily fractured with a mid or late-season melt down. That's how thin I think the facade runs there.

The Coaching HotSeat Bowl this week featured Houston Nutt and Mark Richt facing off in Oxford, with the Dogs pulling the decisive victory. Richt moves on, his seat still warm, but Nutt's troubles continue. I thought that the Rebel Bears might pull out something big  for it's second straight inter-divisional match-up after getting blown out by Vandy the week before, but they got nothing. Looks like exit stage west for Nutt later this year and ain't that a good thing? It usually takes most nuts a while to go stale but this one is just tiring. Maybe Ole Miss should solve their mascot issue before they go coach shopping, but  they'll probably have at least one done by December.

And just for fun, shouldn't we go ahead and start the false rumors about Tommy Tuberville returning to Ole Miss once Nutt has cracked? It's totally plausible, what with the Big 12 on the verge of collapsing still and whispers of Tubs wanting to return east anywhere from Athens to Miami. Enough time has passed and they've both dated other people, so why not? You know they'd take him back in a second, just like you hooking up with any crazed ex who was good in the sack. At least for a little while, anyway, until you both remember why it ended. If we could only get some sort of song commissioned.

If you thought Auburn looked a little stale this year, you gotta wonder what the Chicken fans are thinking in Columbia. After a near-disaster against Navy and another too-close-for-comfort struggle against Vanderbilt, the Gamecocks are no longer looking like the prohibitive favorite to win the East this season. With Florida looking better and better each passing week, South Carolina continues to look flat. Marcus Lattimore is piling on the yards, but he's getting 2.5 times the workload that Michael Dyer is being given. Stephen Garcia, with all his troubles coming into the season, is not failing to live up to them during it either.

To no one's surprise, it still looks like Spurrier will still call Garcia's number this weekend against Auburn. After Garcia got yanked Saturday for four interceptions, backup Conner Shaw really failed to impress anyone either. Originally, Shaw got the start in their opener against East Carolina, but it's been all Garcia since then. Therein lies the problem for OBC and the Gamecocks. Maybe Garcia's better when he's off the wagon--like a modern-day Ken Stabler. If I was Spurrier, I'd give us a heaping helping of Shaw, who's a runner by nature. Everyone knows we can't stop an option offense, but come to think of SC's efforts against Navy, neither can they.

Between their games against the combined Fleet of the Midshipmen and then the Commodores, the Gamecocks haven't seen anything resembling a passing attack since Aaron Murray and Georgia in week two. I hope Auburn pours both of them on this Saturday. Every pass may have to be a screen with Jadeveon Clowney on the front four. Even as a freshman, he continues to play like a monster. Malzahn played everything close to the vest this weekend--like Spurrier and Company can only go back one week's worth of game film. This match-up, despite both Auburn's defensive and offensive woes, surprisingly looks winnable--if only for the intangibles.

South Carolina will no doubt be out for revenge after last year's drubbing in Atlanta, but that may work against them. We managed to shut down Lattimore twice in 2010, but Alshon Jeffrey destroyed us. He's not looking as good as he did his freshman year but is still a potent weapon provided Garcia doesn't pick our secondary as his favorite target instead of him.The Gamecocks are spoiling for a loss and here's our chance to keep their dry spell against us dating back to the Great Depression alive and well. We'll find out at 2:30 CST on CBS. War Eagle!


PS: Excellent piece by Ivan Maisel about Texas A&M coming to the SEC. This is what we're getting into.