Sports

COLUMN: Alabama is the SEC Team to Beat, More Thoughts from SEC Week 5

The Southeastern Conference finished its fifth week of play last weekend, and, while only eight of the conference’s fourteen teams took the field, fans were still treated to some good football. Here are some of my thoughts on what I saw last weekend:

ALABAMA IS THE TEAM TO BEAT. After defeating the Georgia Bulldogs in Week 4, the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide immediately regrouped and put together a 48 – 17 blowout victory over the Tennessee Volunteers. The Tide did this without its top playmaker in the passing game, receiver Jaylen Waddle, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury on the game’s opening kickoff. Quarterback Mac Jones almost threw for 400 yards, running back Najee Harris ran for three touchdowns, and receiver John Metchie III stepped up with 151 receiving yards. The Tide will need Metchie to keep that up, but, right now, Alabama looks like the team to beat in the SEC.

AUBURN SKATES BY AGAIN. The Auburn Tigers are 3-2, and yet they are perhaps the luckiest team in college football. They defeated a well-coached Arkansas team a couple weeks ago after the officials fumbled a call at the end of the game. They picked up win #3 last weekend, defeating the Ole Miss Rebels, largely due to another bad call by the officiating crew. With just under six minutes left in the game and Ole Miss ahead 28-27, Auburn return man Shaun Shivers appeared to touch an Ole Miss kickoff that rolled into the end zone and was recovered by the Rebels for a would-be touchdown, only to be ruled a touchback by the officials. That touchdown would have given the Rebels an eight-point lead (with the PAT). Auburn eventually won the game, 35-28, making the touchdown that never was vital to the game’s outcome. Ultimately, the Tigers are two decent officiating crews away from being 1-4. There’s been a lot of speculation over the last few years that Malzahn is only a couple of losses away from losing his job, so perhaps he should set aside some Christmas cards to send to the officiating crews that have gifted him some crucial wins.

WILL LSU BENCH BRENNAN? This is a question many are asking after LSU quarterback Myles Brennan sat out last week’s game against South Carolina due to an injury, and his backup, TJ Finley, proceeded to engineer a 52-24 win over the Gamecocks. The Tigers received a big boost from their running game in Saturday’s win, and the defense stepped up to the plate, holding the Gamecocks to 24 points, tying a season low for South Carolina; but, without a doubt, Finley had an impressive debut. This is ultimately a matter of whether LSU Head Coach Ed Oregeron wants to go with the hot hand or not. Brennan was consistently putting together good starts for the Tigers before his injury, but LSU played their best game of the season in his absence. You can’t fault Orgeron if he doesn’t want to make any changes. As Finley says, LSU got its “swagger back,” so I’d personally stick with Finley until he gives you a reason to switch back to Brennan.

And now, here’s my power rankings and picks for Week 6:

1. ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (5-0)

2. GEORGIA BULLDOGS (3-1)

3. TEXAS A&M AGGIES (3-1)

4. FLORIDA GATORS (2-1)

5. ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS (2-2)

6. MISSOURI TIGERS (2-2)

7. LSU TIGERS (2-2)

8. AUBURN TIGERS (3-2)

9. KENTUCKY WILDCATS (2-3)

10. TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS (2-3)

11. SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS (2-3)

12. OLE MISS REBELS (1-4)

13. MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS (1-3)

14. VANDERBILT COMMODORES (0-3)

#5 GEORGIA BULLDOGS 31, KENTUCKY WILDCATS 17: The Georgia defense will be able to hold Kentucky’s middling offense, while the Georgia offense will be able to make enough big plays en route to another win.

LSU TIGERS 28, AUBURN TIGERS 24: The LSU Tigers looked like the better team last week, and they have a lot more momentum in their direction that Auburn. LSU should win in a close one.

OLE MISS REBELS 35, VANDERBILT COMMODORES 17: Vanderbilt has had a rough year, and it won’t get any better against Lane Kiffin’s Ole Miss Rebels.

#2 ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE 38, MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS 14: Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense against Nick Saban’s defense is an intriguing matchup, but Alabama simply has more talent on both sides of the ball. Alabama should win rather easily.

#8 TEXAS A&M AGGIES 24, ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS 21: These two teams are always playing each other close, and this year’s contest between the two should be no different. Expect A&M’s offense to pull through and win in a nail-biter.

#10 FLORIDA GATORS 31, MISSOURI TIGERS 21: Missouri’s change at QB to Connor Bazelak has benefitted the Tigers, but the Florida offense, led by Kyle Trask, is unstoppable. Florida should win by a score or two.


Photo courtesy of Brayden George