What I Learned in the SEC: Week 4


Greetings and welcome back from another wonderful week of college football.

It was a relatively quiet week in the SEC, lacking any games between ranked teams, and heavily over-shadowed by a packed slate of Pac-12 matchups. Nevertheless, there was no dearth of interesting games from which valuable lessons can be learned.

1. Mississippi State shouldn’t be slept on

Most preseason polls had Auburn well inside the top 10 and Mississippi State hovering just outside the top 25. The fact that we are just four weeks into the season and this game was hardly on the radar is a sign of just how weird this sport gets.

While Auburn has taken a dramatic nosedive without Nick Marshall at the helm,

Sep 26, 2015; Auburn, AL, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott (15) looks to pass during the third quarter against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State has quietly taken care of business, their only blemish a 2 point loss to LSU. The Bulldogs (Texas A&M’s next opponent) lost many key pieces off of last year’s 10 win Orange Bowl team, but that doesn’t affect Mississippi State as much as it would most teams.

Dan Mullen relies much more on player development than recruiting championships. The 2014 team was made up of mostly unknowns with a few stars such as Dak Prescott and Bernardrick McKinney (best name ever?), and this year’s Bulldogs could potentially be just as competitive. Mississippi State draws Kentucky and Missouri from the East, and gets Alabama and Ole Miss in Starkville. Don’t look for the Bulldogs to win the SEC by any means, but don’t be surprised if they remain in the conversation until November and spoil one other contender’s dreams.

2. Alabama looks like a long-shot to win the SEC

Does this mean Alabama’s dynasty is over?

Absolutely not. This notion is laughable. Nick Saban is still roaming the sidelines and the Tide still have possibly the most talented team in America. Winning the SEC West in 2015 might be asking just a little bit too much, though. Alabama has to play Georgia,

Sep 19, 2015; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Nick Chubb (27) runs against South Carolina Gamecocks linebacker Skai Moore (10) during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated South Carolina 52-20. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas, and Texas A&M in back-to-back-to-back weeks. There are plenty of very good teams that would go at best 2-1 over that stretch with some luck, and a second loss before the midpoint in October would almost certainly doom Alabama, barring absolute chaos.

Before the season I predicted Georgia would upset Alabama at Sanford Stadium, but now Alabama is the underdog for the first time since Mark Ingram was in the backfield. I think the Bulldogs will match up well with a their three-headed monster at running back and a very efficient Greyson Lambert taking snaps. The defense is also good enough to withstand Derrick Henry. It’s dangerous to bet against Saban, but I’m leaning towards Mark Richt. Even if the Tide get a win, rest assured Georgia will push the Tide to the absolute limit in what is arguably this week’s biggest game.

For Alabama to return home and have to hold up against Arkansas and their physically draining brand of play and then go beat the Aggies in the new Kyle Field is simply asking too much. Look for the Crimson Tide to be 5-2 or worse by October 17th.

3. The SEC West Favorites are Ole Miss, LSU, and Texas A&M

Arkansas and Auburn would need miraculous turn-arounds to contend, and it seems that Alabama and Mississippi State are both on the outside looking in. That leaves the

Sep 26, 2015; Syracuse, NY, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Brandon Harris (6) runs past Syracuse Orange defensive end Ron Thompson (13) during the third quarter of a game at the Carrier Dome. LSU won the game 34-24. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Rebels, Tiger, and Aggies.

The Rebels certainly looked mortal against Vanderbilt this week, but the Rebels still have a win over Alabama, even if they needed 5 turnovers and a miracle touchdown to escape Tuscaloosa. Ole Miss is just as talented as any team they’ll face until the end of the season, and they play Texas A&M and LSU at home.

LSU will go as far as Leonard Fournette will take them. The super sophomore is the best running back, and when coupled with what remains one of the elite defenses in the NCAA, the Tigers have enough pieces in place to beat anyone in the nation.

Texas A&M still has the best offense in the league. Kyle Allen threw for 358 yards despite the Aggies have nearly half the possession time as Arkansas. Throw in Josh

Sep 26, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies receiver Christian Kirk (3) celebrates his overtime touchdown with Josh Reynolds (11) against the Arkansas Razorbacks at AT&T Stadium.Texas A&M won 28-21 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Reynolds and Christian Kirk, and the secret weapon that is Kyler Murray and you have a unit that that any coordinator outside John Chavis has nightmares of. Pair that with a vastly improved defense featuring Myles Garrett, Daeshon Hall, and other young players at every position making huge strides, and A&M has every right to be considered a playoff contender.

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