What We Learned and What We Should Expect
When you haven't sorted out the aftermath of another crazy college football weekend, it's already time to start looking ahead. Gaining perspective on what unfolded the previous Saturday gives us a glimpse of what we can expect moving forward. This time of year the travel, scheduling situations, and letdown spots all play a role in impacting the landscape.
What we learned this weekend...
1) Willie Taggart is selling himself short if he leaves Western Kentucky to take the head coaching job at Kentucky. Sure, Joker isn't gone yet but he's my pick to be the first SEC coach canned when the season ends. The Hilltoppers have covered 15 games in a row, yes 15 which goes to show Taggart is exceeding expectations every time his teams take the field. Wait for a job with a program that can win Willie, not UK.
2) Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns are an absolute mess. The team was grossly under prepared for the Red River Rivalry and coming off back to back losses a 10 win season in Austin appears improbable.
3) Auburn stinks (nothing new, just needed to be said again)
4) Missouri isn't ready for the SEC and won't be until Coach Pinkel upgrades overall depth and talent on both the offensive / defensive lines.
5) Florida has major questions in the passing game despite Driskel's ongoing development. Gaining 77 yards through the air against Vandy is hardly the confidence booster needed to beat South Carolina, Georgia, Florida State, and Alabama in coming weeks.
6) Writing the eulogy for LSU's 2012 season after the Florida loss was premature. The Tigers dominated South Carolina despite a misleading final score of 23-21 that wasn't indicative of the nearly 2:1 yardage advantage LSU compiled.
7) South Carolina needs a better offensive gameplan this week since moving the football isn't easier against UF than LSU. Shaw, Lattimore, and Sanders are a nice trio of skill guys but I have concerns about the offensive line.
8) Tennessee will never win a big game under Coach Dooley. Everything set up for a statement opportunity in Starkville but Tennessee was ill equipped to slow down the Bulldogs passing attack. Every time the Vols looked poised to make a run, critical mistakes squashed their momentum.
9) Johnny Manziel is really really good. He will continue to wow college football fans with his outstanding ability as a dual threat quarterback. Before I call him a 2013 Heisman hopeful, let's see how he performs this Saturday against a top 5 defense in LSU. Last I checked, the Tigers are a bit stouter defensively than Louisiana Tech.
10) Big Ten football is nationally irrelevant until Urban Meyer returns Ohio State to where they need to be defensively. If you're going to be considered a top 10 team, allowing 918 yards combined against Nebraska and Indiana is pathetic. Just ask West Virginia how many games you can win while playng matador defense.
Opening lines for this week's SEC games
Georgia -28 @ Kentucky
Alabama -20 @ Tennessee
LSU -3 @ Texas A&M
Florida -3 vs South Carolina
Vanderbilt -7 vs Auburn
Mississippi St -20.5 vs Middle Tennessee State
Top 10 Team on Upset Alert this week: Oregon -10 @ Arizona St
The Sun Devils are flying off the national radar behind an underrated QB in Taylor Kelly whose running Coach Graham's offense with brutal efficiency. This is Oregon's first true road test (winning in Pullman doesn't count) and the #3 team in the BCS will need late heroics to get out of Tempe with a narrow victory.
SEC Bold Prediction: Alabama struggles to beat Tennessee
Alabama is the best team in the country, that's not up for debate. However, show me a living breathing passing attack they've encountered this year among this list of opponents with national passing yardage rank in parentheses: Michigan (107), Western Kentucky (88), Arkansas (7 but Wilson did not play vs Alabama), Florida Atlantic (113), Mississippi (48), and Missouri (74, started backup QB vs Alabama). Tyler Bray and his dynamic WR corps will find a way to keep this game closer than Tide fans expect and Vols fans think is possible. Eventually Tennessee's porous defense will prevent them from pulling off a shocking upset although I forecast an easy UT cover.