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SEC Recap Week 5: Popcorndogs

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A showdown Saturday turned a bit chalky.

NCAA Football: Auburn at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Week 5 of the college football season turned into the first relatively full week of SEC play with 6 conference matchups! Let’s run it down!

WEEK 5 RESULTS

Alabama 42, Ole Miss 21

Georgia 37, Arkansas 0

Kentucky 20, Florida 13

Mississippi State 26, Texas A&M 22

Auburn 24, LSU 19

Tennessee 62, Missouri 24

South Carolina 23, Troy 14

Vanderbilt 30, UConn 28

MAIN THEME - PEASANT REVOLT

Let’s look at what a couple of different schools have in common when in comes to the terms of their head coaches’ employment:

  • LSU - Ed Orgeron got a 6-year contract extension after winning the national championship for the 2019 season. It’s worth about $42M, and his current buyout sits around $21M (hey, sounds fmailiar)
  • TEXAS A&M - Jimmy Sexton continues to be the best person at any job in the world, initially getting Jimbo Fisher a 10-year, $75M contract when he got hired by Texas A&M, AND THEN getting Jimbo a raise and extension where he’ll be at A&M until 2031 and make approximately $95M over the life of the deal.
  • FLORIDA - Dan Mullen got an extension earlier this year to make him the third-highest paid coach in the SEC ($7.6M per year), and his buyout is around $12M at the moment.

What do these schools all have in common? They all lost over this past weekend.

  • Bryan Harsin outsmarted Ed Orgeron, who couldn’t even figure out how to run the ball against an Auburn defensive front featuring as little as a single down lineman at times.
  • Mike Leach beat Jimbo, whose offense failed to gain 300 total yards. With the loss, Jimbo has fewer wins and one less Heisman Trophy winner than Kevin Sumlin had at the same point during his career in College Station.
  • Mark Stoops snaked Dan Mullen as Kentucky beat the Gators for just the second time since the SEC expanded in 1992. Mullen is now 2-2 against Kentucky, when Jim McElwain, Will Muschamp, Urban Meyer, and Steve Spurrier were all perfect against the Wildcats.

What does this actually mean? For one, it tells us that there are likely only two elite teams in the SEC — Alabama and Georgia — but we already knew that. It may end up with an 8-0 team at the top of each division, and a whole bunch of 5-3/4-4 teams at the bottom, organized by a miasma of tiebreakers. The third-highest ranked conference team to start the year (Texas A&M), is just not good. They’re so average and boring, and don’t have any stars to speak of. Florida seems to not want to use Anthony Richardson and ride with the electric freshman, and LSU can’t run the ball at all, and if Kayshon Boutte gets neutralized with a solid corner or a double team, they’re useless.

Aside from those three outcomes, Tennessee somehow exploded for 62 points, with 45 coming in the first half against Missouri. I think this tells us more about the Tigers than it does the Vols, though, unable to control the ball and milk any clock. The two teams combined for a wild 15 possessions in the first half, with Tennessee doing what it wanted. The Vols scored on 9/10 drives, with the one failure coming via downs. Tennessee hasn’t been great this season, but this was a huge result ahead of what should be a win over South Carolina and then four straight games against ranked teams.

And Vanderbilt! The Dores got a victory over UConn, keeping the Huskies’ futility complete thus far in 2021.

Finally, in our preseason picks, I said that Auburn would go 9-3 with losses to Georgia, Ole Miss, and Alabama. If we get popcorn Ole Miss, it may get my prediction back to neutral.

FAVORITE PLAY OF THE WEEK

C’mon, you know what it is. What a focused, fun effort we saw. This was the first time that we saw Bo Nix take a game over on the road, and if he’s truly turning the page it can’t come at a better time with Georgia coming to town on Saturday.

THINGS TO WATCH IN WEEK 6

  1. Georgia makes every team look like they aren’t good. Will that be the case when Auburn hosts the Bulldogs on Saturday? Georgia’s defense held Clemson to a field goal and shut out Arkansas, making it a cool 3 total points scored by top ten teams against UGA. They’ve got a unit that people are comparing to the 2011 Alabama defense, but Georgia has much more talent across the board. Georgia’s the most talented team in the country if you’re looking purely at recruiting rankings, and that level of skill is tipped to the defensive side of the ball. For Auburn to have any success, this is going to be the outlier in Georgia’s season. We have to cash in all of the Jordan-Hare magic, and we’ll need to have the good fortune of a defensive or a special teams score early on. Georgia hasn’t played from behind this year, and if we can introduce that dynamic, then it’s likely our best shot. Oh, and we’ll need to see Tank Bigsby fully insert himself in the Heisman race if we want to have a chance.
  2. We may still not know how good Arkansas/Ole Miss really are, but this game could very well be for 2nd place in the SEC West. While the Hogs took out the entire state of Texas, we’ve learned that A&M isn’t what the preseason predictions thought they’d be. Ole Miss doesn’t have a win over anyone that would be considered really tough, so they could be an entirely flimsy facade now that SEC play has started. Now they play each other, and we’re not going to find out how good either side is until we have more data.
  3. What happens if LSU loses to Kentucky? The Cats are coming off of their biggest win of the season over Florida, and LSU is looking for answers. Lose to Kentucky, and LSU is then 3-3 with games coming up vs Florida, at Ole Miss, at Alabama, and home against Arkansas. I’d say the chances of the Bayou Bengals sitting at 3-7 are better than not, and when that moment comes, Ed Orgeron and his Gus-level buyout look pretty tempting.
  4. How bad is Alabama going to beat Texas A&M? With the things that Jimbo Fisher said earlier this spring about finally beating Alabama —

“We’re going to beat his ass even when he’s there.”

— it’s pretty clear that he’s looked for some kind of assisted suicide. Nick Saban seemed to take it pretty easy on Lane Kiffin, who I think he knows is a harmless loudmouth at times, but Jimbo is picking a fight just to turn into a “hold me back” kind of guy and get knocked out anyway. This is going to get out of hand early.