I guess... thanks for getting all the COVID, Mississippi State? By virtue of not even having to strap it up and put it all on the line, the Tigers were able to move up ONE SPOT in the AP Poll that was released earlier today.
No. 25 Tulsa is ranked for the first time since 2010 and No. 9 Indiana is set for a historic matchup. Watch for more notes on this week’s AP Top 25.— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) November 16, 2020
Full poll >> https://t.co/7dTTUiB0CJ
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Before we get to the big news, here’s the rundown of the Top Ten plus other SEC teams:
After that, it’s just Georgia at #13 and us at #23! Auburn bumped up one spot after the second bye week in a row with MSU getting ravaged by COVID. Auburn did indeed have 12 positives of its own, but that wouldn’t have precluded the Tigers from fielding a worthy team yesterday. State would’ve had something like 45 players available, which may not have resulted in much more of a blowout than if they were at full strength.
As for the LARGE Sunday night news, it seems that South Carolina has decided to move along from the Will Muschamp experiment. After a 26-30 overall record (17-22 in the SEC), Muschamp just wasn’t working, even though the Gamecocks started the season pretty well. Somehow they beat us on one of the most dysfunctional Saturdays the Tigers have had in recent memory, but the writing was on the wall after the latest three losses.
In those defeats, South Carolina allowed 159 total points, and went 0-3 by an average margin of roughly 30 points per game. The offense was offensive (in a bad way), and the defense (Muschamp’s specialty) couldn’t bat its way out of a wet paper bag. Thankfully, his win over Auburn back in October was not his greatest victory — that would likely be identified as the 20-17 win over Georgia last season. Anyway, he’ll be owed some odd $15M dollars to chill out and think about defense or yelling or something for the next year before he turns into Nick Saban’s next project in 2022.
Let’s run down the rest of the SEC in a very abbreviated weekend:
ALABAMA: Off due to COVID (thanks LSU). This game was supposed to be the huge matchup on Saturday night, and it was supposed to be the capper on the biggest Saturday CBS has ever had, but LSU got a ton of COVID cases and the game was postponed until December. Good for LSU, Alabama would’ve cruised to another win even with a full strength Tiger team. It would’ve been revenge for last year, and Saban wouldn’t have let up. Now, the Tide is #1 after Clemson lost last weekend, and they didn’t have to do anything to defend the top spot yesterday.
ARKANSAS: Gave up 63 points yesterday to Florida, which isn’t out of the norm for what happens when people play Florida. Still, they didn’t look pathetic, and played against a guy who’s trying to build a Joe Burrow stat season right now. It was really one bad quarter for the Hogs, but they put up plenty of points and Sam Pittman’s got them going in the right direction. They finish with LSU, Missouri, and Alabama, and could very well reach .500 since they sit at 3-4 right now.
AUBURN: Off due to COVID (thanks Mississippi State). This would’ve likely been a huge blowout for Auburn if they’d played. There were 12 positives on the Tiger side, and some of those players are going to be missing the Tennessee game this coming weekend, but it would’ve been nice to get the win over Mississippi State. Either way, Auburn will face the challenge of getting back into the rhythm they had against LSU after two Saturdays off, and they’ll be doing it against a coach that’s had success against Gus.
FLORIDA: Well, Kyle Trask looks like a legitimate Heisman Candidate, and he’s flat-out pacing Burrow’s numbers from a year ago. He’ll have fewer games so he won’t hit the raw volume that Joey did in 2019, but his averages are right there. Another six touchdowns yesterday speak to that against an improving Arkansas team. Florida is now in control of its own destiny after taking care of Georgia a week ago, and they’re slipup at A&M is the only blemish on the schedule. With the firepower they sport, they might actually be able to challenge Alabama in a shootout.
GEORGIA: Off due to COVID. They would’ve played Missouri, who has enough offensive talent to make a game like that interesting. Georgia’s looking for something after what’s happened to them over the past few weeks. Two losses in three games isn’t what Kirby Smart thought he was getting this season, and now they’re in danger of missing out on Atlanta for the first time in four years. Just turning into a more watered down version of Mark Richt at this point.
KENTUCKY: Almost lost to Vanderbilt in a 38-35 win. Scoring points and allowing points? What? Went away from the Joey Gatewood trial and put Terry Wilson back in. He goes 13-15 through the air, and the Wildcats rush for more than 300 yards, but the defense allows Vandy to come back with 14 fourth quarter points. Still, they held on and got the win, but if the Wildcats think they’re hitting .500 this year, they’ll have to upset either Alabama or Florida on the road in back to back weeks.
LSU: Off due to COVID, but it’s just delaying the inevitable. Alabama would’ve had one heck of a time exorcising the demons from last year’s loss in Tuscaloosa, and LSU has very few players even available at this point. Auburn almost had two defensive touchdowns off of TJ Finley on Halloween, and Alabama would’ve done similar things. They would’ve gotten torn up at night in Death Valley, and Ed O would’ve looked horrible because there would be no answer. Maybe in December things will be a little less grisly, but LSU is an absolute mess this year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: Off due to COVID, but they’re also delaying the inevitable. Auburn would’ve murdered the Bulldogs, with or without a full complement of players. Mike Leach may very well work out in Starkville, but he’s turning into a really awful decision based on this year and the trajectory of the program with his rough dismissals and general attitude toward everything is not good.
MISSOURI: Off due to COVID. With the way Georgia’s playing, Mizzou may have had a shot to spring another upset. They would’ve gotten a limping Bulldog team coming off of that big loss to the Gators, and a couple of quick touchdowns may have put the onus on Stetson Bennett to make things work. We’ll see in December.
OLE MISS: Oh, hi guys. Ole Miss rolled up a ton of yards and can now claim the scalp of Will Muschamp as they defeated South Carolina 59-42. Matt Corral tossed for more than 500 yards, with 4 touchdowns, and the Rebels scored double digits in each quarter. They’re dangerous, and should finish at .500 with games against MSU and LSU left on the slate. There’s a sneaky fun game left against Texas A&M coming up next that ought to be a heck of a good time.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Welp. Nice to know ya, Muschamp. It’s a sad footnote in your career when “Mike Bobo named interim coach” is the headline just below your firing headline. We touched on it above, but the Gamecocks likely won’t win much more this year with Missouri, Georgia, and Kentucky left to go.
TENNESSEE: Off due to COVID. Probably just delaying more of the inevitable as well. The Vols have been putrid since leading Georgia at halftime, but you just know they’ll start to turn it around next Saturday night at Jordan-Hare. There’s definite schadenfreude watching Phil Fulmer take it on the chin with his coach running things, but a healthy Tennessee is honestly good for Auburn, so it’s not the absolute best thing in the world. Still, let’s beat the heck out of them this coming weekend.
TEXAS A&M: Somehow, the Aggies are the second-highest ranked team in the league, and they’re quietly taking care of business. The only time I’ve really seen them play was against Florida and then against Alabama. They rose to the occasion in one instance, and completely crumbled in the other. It’s difficult to believe they’re the fifth-best team in the country, but Kellen Mond is not bad, and the run game on both sides of the ball is working out. They’ve got some interesting games left with Auburn and Ole Miss remaining on the schedule.
VANDERBILT: They blew their best chance to get a win yesterday by not coming back enough against Kentucky. A 38-35 defeat showed promise, but it wasn’t enough. Up next? Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, and Missouri. 0-10 for the Commodores this season. Try again next year.
Well, let’s see what happens next week when Auburn takes on Tennessee. It sure would be nice to already be 5-2 and working in rhythm, but it is what it is. See you Saturday night on the Plains!