Time to separate contenders from pretenders


Shane Shackleford

By Shane Shackleford, Contributing Writer

After all of the tune-ups and beatings in the Alliance Killer known as the SEC, it’s now time to get down to business and begin the separation of contenders and pretenders in the conference.  Week Three had plenty of talking points, points on the scoreboard, and final dress rehearsals as the teams in the conference get ready to go down the road that leads to Atlanta and the SEC Championship.


Let’s review the week that was in the SEC, shall we?


Kentucky 28, Chattanooga 25


Why Should I Care:  The Cats survived a very flat and vanilla performance across the board to go to 3-0.  The first SEC business trip has Big Blue going to Columbia to face a young but hungry South Carolina squad.  UK’s focus and execution at all levels had better be on point if they hope to continue their early season winning streak.


Tennessee 56, Tennessee Tech 0


Why Should I Care:  The Vols moved to 2-1 on the season with a coaster on Saturday.  Next week, though, Big Orange goes to the Swamp to face a Florida squad who feels like they let Alabama off the hook and want to get that taste out of their mouth.  This game will be the first real gauge of where Josh Heupel has the program currently.


Georgia 40, South Carolina 13


Why Should I Care:  It looks like the only teams that can shut down the Bulldogs are Alabama, maybe Florida, and the Georgia Bulldogs.  I thought the Dawgs were way ahead of the SEC East teams, but after looking at Florida a little more in-depth, maybe the gap isn’t so great between the Gators and Dawgs.  South Carolina had some success moving the ball Saturday night.   USC and UK next week will be a good one.


Texas A&M 34, New Mexico 0


Why Should I Care:  I thought former UK quarterback Terry Wilson could have some success against the Aggies.  I was wrong.  Gig Em blasted the Lobos to go to 3-0.  Next week, A&M goes to Fayetteville to face a hot Arkansas team who already beat a Top 25 team at home this season.  I’m thinking Upset Alert.


Missouri 59, SE Missouri State 28


Why Should I Care:  The Tigers had an easy Saturday beating the in-state Bears rather easily.  Next week, the Tigers face a road test at Chestnut Hill facing Boston College.  Show Me has the talent to win on the road, but it will be a fight with the well-coached Eagles.


Alabama 31, Florida 29


Why Should I Care:  I know a lot of people are worked up with the close win for the Tide, but we need to pump the brakes a little bit.  It was Bama’s star quarterback Bryce Young’s first real road test, as well as several other young Tide stars.  They found a way to win in a very hostile environment.  For Florida, the Gators did everything but win coming back from a 21-3 hole.  I came away thinking the Gators will be a challenger for the SEC East again with Kentucky and both teams chasing Georgia.


Arkansas 45, Georgia Southern 10


Why Should I Care:  The hottest team in the SEC may be the Arkansas Razorbacks.  The Hogs took care of business again Saturday and get another highly ranked Texas school coming to Fayetteville.  Can they pull another huge upset and beat another Big 8 classic rival?  Don’t bet against it.


Memphis 31, Mississippi State 29


Why Should I Care:  The Bulldogs suffered a tough loss to Memphis with several officiating breakdowns by their own SEC referees.  However, MSU quarterback had a record-setting day from quarterback Will Rogers and almost pulled off another late-game comeback.  Next week, the Dawgs get LSU at home.  Last season, the Bulldogs whipped the Tigers in Baton Rouge.  I promise the Tigers haven’t forgotten.  


Penn State 28, Auburn 20


Why Should I Care:  War Eagle put on a good performance in Happy Valley, but fell late to the Nittany Lions.  Again, I’m not convinced Auburn quarterback is the answer.  His decision-making isn’t very good and they need him to be competent at quarterback for the power run game to work (UK fans, does that sound familiar?).  Auburn gets an easier date again at home with Georgia State.


LSU 49, Central Michigan 21


Why Should I Care:  The Tigers had an easy time with the Chippewas at home.  Now the Bayou Bengals go on the road to Starkville to face the pass-happy Bulldogs and their cowbells.  I think LSU might be getting better, but facing MSU will be a huge test for their defense.


Ole Miss 61, Tulane 21


Why Should I Care:  The second-best team in the SEC West could be the Rebels.  The Fightin’ Lane Kiffin’s have the same pyrotechnic offense, but the major improvement is on the defensive side of the ball.  As long as Hotty Toddy can get stops reasonably consistent, the offense will put the points on the board.  Interesting question; with the Southern Cal job open and the possibility of a current big-name coach taking it, could it be possible that Kiffin gets into the musical chairs coaching game?


Stanford 41, Vanderbilt 23


Why Should I Care:  Vanderbilt is showing signs of life in Nashville.  After the East Tennessee upset, the Commodores have beaten an FBS team on the road and competed well with another Power Five school in the Cardinal.  Granted, it’s still a long road for the Dores, but it’s good to see the progress. 


Week 4 Predictions


Last week, the Backwoods Swami went 11-1, losing only the Mississippi State/Memphis matchup.  For the season the Swami is 36-3 (.923).  Two of the three losses were Vanderbilt games.  Go figure.  Let’s look at Week Four with the predicted winner in bold.


Georgia at Vanderbilt


LSU at Mississippi State


Missouri at Boston College


Texas A&M at Arkansas


Georgia State at Auburn


Tennessee at Florida


Kentucky at South Carolina


Southern Mississippi at Alabama