October 1, 2017 10:25:19 AM
Hey, let's quickly catch up on former opponents.
- I'll try to keep the back-patting to a minimum here, but I did predict in the preseason the Louisiana Tech win would look better over time. Tech has since beaten Western Kentucky and South Alabama to solidify its standing as a Conference USA favorite and probably should've beat South Carolina, as many of you saw.
- Then again, I also said the LSU win might look better over time. Yikes. This LSU team is bad, guys, with further evidence provided after losing to Troy last night at home. We seriously have to wonder if this team will make a bowl -- I think they will, but it's no given.
- Georgia....probably the best team in the SEC East. A complete wrecking of Tennessee has the Athens Dogs looking like the only team in the East that belongs on the same field as Alabama.
UTAH STATE 40, BYU 24
One of my favorite games in this putrid start BYU is experiencing is to go through some of the local coverage and find them most devastating headline. I think this is it, from the Salt Lake Tribune: "BYU may have suffered its worst month in program history." And you know what, that's fair.
The offense continues to be bad -- one of the touchdowns you see in that final score was a defensive score -- and has no end in sight after struggling to throw without starting quarterback Tanner Mangum. The offensive line actually showed some improvement, allowing no sacks and leading BYU to run for 238 yards, but this is a Utah State program that hasn't been very good defensively: 46 points allowed to Wake Forest, anyone?
Let's be blunt: if MSU can't win this game....let's close up shop on the fall of 2017.
KENTUCKY 24, EASTERN MICHIGAN 20
Eastern Michigan outgained Kentucky by almost 100 yards while losing the time of possession battle (by only 10 seconds, but still) -- and it's pretty clear that three EMU turnovers are the only reason Kentucky won this game. That's where Kentucky is as a team right now: it can stop the run with the best of them, but it can't do much else.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has said in the past he believes this team plays up and down to its competition (like almost beating Florida a week before this dud of a performance). Kentucky has some elements to make this MSU game what I thought the Auburn game would be: a low-scoring slugfest where the margin of error is pretty low down the stretch.
TEXAS A&M 24, SOUTH CAROLINA 17
Texas A&M played solid run defense and added a bunch of sacks on top of that. A pair of fourth-quarter rushing touchdowns, both set up with short fields to work with, got Texas A&M out with the win.
I find myself with a lot of negative thoughts on a team that's 4-1. The reasons are pretty obvious -- this team hasn't put together a complete game all year, and it's not like the best of its team on any given day has been enough to blow you away every week -- but I wonder if this team is actually close to finding something. Obviously that's never happened under Kevin Sumlin (without Manziel), so I'm not going to step on the limb and tell you Texas A&M's going to have the machine rolling when MSU visits in October, but let's all agree to not be surprised if it is.
OHIO 58, UMASS 50
Can we just stop with this team? They're bad. They're bad in basically every facet of the game. I can't do this anymore.
ALABAMA 66, OLE MISS 3
...................Wait, are you waiting on me to say something? About this game? You read the final score, right? Alright, fine.
We have officially seen what Alabama is capable of doing when it's playing mad. My advice to MSU is to be very nice to Alabama for several weeks in advance. Send Alabama a fruit basket. Tell Alabama it's pretty. Surprise it with a date night. Give it a gift card to Archibald's or Baumhower's.
As for Ole Miss: I know it's fun to roll around in the sorrows of the in-state rival, but to insert some reality into this conversation, it's probably not the greatest of ideas to judge a team based on what happens when it plays an Alabama squad that's out for blood. Ole Miss will probably lose to Auburn next week, but it's in the four games after that we find out if there's any tread on these tires: Vanderbilt, LSU, Arkansas and at Kentucky. Those are games that a team trying hard and playing for something can probably win two, maybe even three of. A team that's mailed it in, a moment the Ole Miss narrative is waiting to come? Probably lose three of those games. Stay tuned.
ARKANSAS 42, NEW MEXICO STATE 24
The Razorback offense was much better, but the defense continued its season-long struggles, this time against a NMSU team that's admittedly lightyears ahead of what it has been the last five years, but still nothing a competent SEC team should allow to drive down the field on multiple occasions. The issue seems to be in the back end of the defense as Arkansas is in the bottom half of the conference in passer rating allowed (when filtering out games against FCS teams).
There's your scouting report: be cool with a shootout and throw to beat them. MSU has about 6 weeks to reach the point where it can win that kind of game.