This past Saturday in college football was billed as “blowout weekend,” and for the most part it did not disappoint. The biggest thing that I noticed in the Southeastern Conference was sloppy play across the board with regard to turnovers.
The Florida-Tennessee game nearly set offensive football back 100 years with its display in the first half. And that was not the only game where teams were careless with the football.
The 11 teams that played this weekend committed 23 turnovers combined. Only Arkansas and Mississippi State played without committing a turnover. This needs to be cleaned up for the elite teams moving forward if they want to have a chance at a conference title and the BCS Championship.
LSU’s win over Auburn was impressive, especially the way the LSU offense came out and ran the ball with Jeremy Hill. The LSU offensive line has played very well the first month of the season and Hill had 183 yards in the game. The LSU defense harassed Nick Marshall in his first career road start, and the game seemed to be well in hand at halftime. Give Auburn credit as the team battled back with Marshall going 11-for-17 in the second half and directed three touchdown drives. The slow start doomed Auburn, but Gus Malzahan’s team can build off this road loss. Hill became the first LSU player in 10 seasons to run for more than 150 yards in a half.
Florida got the win it needed over Tennessee, but not without a price. Quarterback Jeff Driskel was lost for the season with a broken foot and little used Tyler Murphy is now on the spot. Murphy responded pretty well against the Volunteers in attempting his first pass of his career and finishing 8-for-14. He used his legs to make plays and showed great poise for the win. Florida’s defense had four interceptions and forced six turnovers. The Vols just don’t have any playmakers for Butch Jones right now, and it looks like Justin Worley gives them the best chance in the passing game. It would not surprise me if one of the young freshmen plays this week to get the zone-read involved in the run game going forward.
Arkansas coughed up a 17-point lead on the road in its four-point loss to Rutgers. The Hog secondary reverted back to its 2012 form in letting Gary Nova throw for 147 yards in the fourth quarter. The Scarlet Knight run defense proved to be legitimate, holding the Razorbacks to a season low 101 yards on the ground. Arkansas did score a defensive touchdown for the first time since 2011 when Tevin Mitchell had a pick-six.
Alabama won easily but was sloppy in the run game over Colorado State. TJ Yeldon had a 38-yard run, but after that the run game managed just 28 yards on 20 carries. Christian Jones set career highs for catches (9) and yards (90). It was the fewest rushing yards (66) by an Alabama team since South Carolina held them to 36 yards in 2010.
Texas A&M’s defense was impressive holding SMU and June Jones to 13 points. The Aggies held the Mustangs to 97 yards rushing, the lowest total they have given up since the Mississippi State game last November. Johnny Manziel threw for over 200 yards and rushed for over 100 yards for the seventh time in his 17-game career.
Mississippi State scored on all seven of its first-half possessions in a rout of Troy. The Bulldogs may have found a new quarterback in Dak Prescott, who scored on a 36-yard reception, a 22-yard run, and an 11-yard run and threw a 50-yard touchdown pass. He has 186 rushing yards in the last two games. The Bulldogs are averaging over 500 yards of total offense in their last three games.
Vanderbilt was a bit lethargic in their 24-7 win at UMass, but not Jordan Matthews who has now caught 20 touchdowns in his career. He has scored in eight of his last nine games for the Commodores. He finished with eight receptions for 76 yards.
Aaron Murray continues to set records for Georgia although the special teams were a bit shoddy in the rout of North Texas. The Dogs gave up a kickoff return and blocked punt, but that wasn’t enough to slow down Mike Bobo’s offense. Murray found Reggie Davis for a 98-yard touchdown the third longest in SEC history. It was the longest pass play in the FBS this season. Tray Matthews got his first career interception in the game.
Missouri committed three turnovers on the road but still blew out Indiana behind 343 yards passing from James Franklin. Don’t look now, but the Tigers are the only unbeaten team in the SEC East. They are third in the league at 567 yards per game and they average 47 points per game, which is second in the league. Missouri has nine interceptions already this season and that is more than the entire year in 2012.
This and That
LSU travels to Georgia this weekend in a huge game. I think this game will come down to which defense is truly improved. Zach Mettenberger returning to Athens will be a major story line, but don’t forget about the two great running backs in Todd Gurley and Jeremy Hill.
Ole Miss has had two weeks to prepare for its trip to Tuscaloosa and the run defense is improved under Hugh Freeze. The Rebels are third in the league and will face a Tide run game that is struggling, and as of right now dead last in the SEC in rushing. Bo Wallace must continue to take care of the ball and attack a suspect secondary for the Bama.
South Carolina travels to unbeaten UCF and better be ready for quarterback Blake Bortles. This is the biggest game for UCF since Texas came in and opened the stadium. The SEC is being portrayed as being in a “down year” and this would not help the image if the Gamecocks got knocked off. By the way, Louisville is rooting for UCF because they play them later in the season.