What We Learned from the SEC in Week 9 - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

What We Learned from the SEC in Week 9

Tre Mason (21) scores a touchdown for Auburn against Florida Atlantic. (Source: Todd van Emst/Auburn University) Tre Mason (21) scores a touchdown for Auburn against Florida Atlantic. (Source: Todd van Emst/Auburn University)
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(RNN) – What had all the makings of a total snoozefest turn into a great day to own a TV.

Early in the day, Miami delayed its inevitable collapse with a come-from-behind win in the final minute over Wake Forest. Then in the afternoon Alabama and Florida State took turns flexing their muscles at each other in twin blowouts. The Seminoles had the early advantage, scoring 35 points in the first quarter, but Alabama closed the gap and matched their 49-17 win over N.C. State with a 45-10 win over Tennessee.

Then came the night games. A weather delay forced Texas Tech and Oklahoma to Fox News Channel, pre-empting Huckabee and confusing Obama-bashers everywhere.1 Oregon looked fallible against UCLA, Missouri and South Carolina played an overtime thriller. Even the late game between Stanford and Oregon State was a nail biter if you were able to stay up and watch it (I wasn't.)

Then came the best game of the whole day – Game 3 of the World Series. Since this is about football I won't say much about it, but if you love controversial calls and whiny fan bases (you like college football, so obviously you love these things) Game 3 was the best thing you've ever seen.

But almost all of that was outside the SEC. In the SEC, it wasn't so great. You can tl;dr this column down to No. 10 and not miss much.

Here is the weekly list of what we learned from watching SEC games in Week 9.

1. Alabama by any other name is still Alabama. Tennessee coach Butch Jones took to calling the Crimson Tide "the red team" this week in practice. Call them what you will, they are still dominant.

Actually, you should just call them Alabama – or better yet Their Royal Highnesses, The Kings of All Sport – because even the slightest hint of derision aimed in the Crimson Tide's general direction will be met with swift and utter destruction.

AJ McCarron has been downgraded and criticized his whole career for being a "game manager" and he's never let it get to him. He had a very AJ McCarron-esque game in Saturday's 45-10 win – 19-for-27, 275 yards, two touchdowns. It's the exact type of game he gets criticized for. McCarron will likely become Alabama's all-time leading passer in the Tide's next game against LSU and yet few people outside of Alabama think he's a good quarterback. And that has never bothered him.

It isn't exactly news that Tennessee coach Butch Jones called Alabama "the red team" because coaches do all sorts of things to keep their players from being intimidated by better opponents. That he said the Vols could play with anybody is not that big of a deal because, as the coach, he has to say that. But that McCarron felt disrespected by those comments is earth-shaking.

Following the game, McCarron said, "I took this one personal. I felt disrespected. We're not just anybody."

That's as close as McCarron gets to showboating. But the fact that it bothered him at all says something. If there is any team in college football that has no reason to feel disrespected right now it is Alabama. The fact that coaches won't say its name in practice is a testament to the fear they have of playing "the red team." It's an ultimate sign of respect. Tennessee didn't do that when it played Oregon, Florida or Georgia. Only Alabama. That's a sign of fear and respect – and the one player who has every right to feel disrespected for his entire career and never has before was offended by it.

It's not even a slight against Alabama, and yet it's being taken as one. Don't give Alabama any fuel to use against you. It's just dumb. It even kept the student section from emptying in the fourth quarter.

Oregon students have already printed T-shirts that say "We Want Bama." I'm thinking maybe you don't. Either way, it's just not a good idea to say it.

2. Missouri is misery. Hoo boy. Where do I even start here? The first thing that comes to mind is following Missouri's 27-24 overtime loss to South Carolina, where the game was lost when a potential tying field goal hit the upright and ricocheted somewhere well left of being good, people more familiar with Missouri than me all but expected it to happen.

Yahoo sports columnist Pat Forde, himself an alumnus of the school, tweeted "Most. Missouri. Thing. Ever." He followed a now-prophetic column about why Missouri should be worried with one detailing the Tigers' lengthy failures and advocating a "drone strike on the most haunted plot of land in college football." His column is excellent and is written in a way only someone crying at their keyboard can write.

He even dubs it the "Shaw-shank" due to Connor Shaw rallying the Gamecocks (more on this in a minute). Missouri still has a chance at redemption, but it just got a lot harder. The loss to South Carolina now means the Tigers must beat Texas A&M in the season finale to make the SEC championship game, unless South Carolina loses to Mississippi State or Florida.

Missouri still controls its own destiny, and if you followed any of the above links you might not think that's a good thing.2

3. Steve Spurrier has still got it. Any by "it" I mean both the ability to pull out a stunning win and the ability to create controversy when there shouldn't be any.

The first thought on many people's mind when Connor Shaw entered the game in the second half was "why didn't he start?" Then he led the Gamecocks to a touchdown and we all thought "Really, why didn't he start?" Then when South Carolina tied the game at 17 with 42 seconds remaining it turned into "OK, seriously, why DID HE NOT START?"

Shaw threw for 201 yards and three touchdowns. He entered with the Gamecocks trailing 17-0. They won 27-24. So, why didn't he start? Well, he had an injured knee, which is a ridiculous understatement. Shaw sprained two ligaments against Tennessee when he was tackled and his leg did something I hope never happens to mine. An injury to either of those ligaments could have been season-ending.

Midweek, Spurrier wasn't even sure he would be able suit up for the game and had no intention of using him. So, why then did he play in the second half? He asked to. Spurrier may goof around with the media at times, even about players who aren't playing as he did earlier this year, but no one goofs around with knee injuries.

In a post-game interview with ESPN, Spurrier said, "Connor said he could play, so we had to go with him." It was a desperation move. South Carolina was facing elimination from the SEC East and needed something miraculous to happen.

Shaw then went all Willis Reed and led the comeback. Spurrier said, "I don't know how it happened." You're Steve Spurrier. That's how it happened.

4. Mississippi State has decided on a quarterback … maybe. And the winner is Dak Prescott, who almost led the Bulldogs to a loss to Kentucky. Mississippi State, however, triumphed 28-22. Oof.

I'm still partial to my double-barreled shotgun idea. I think it could be exciting. If nothing else, I'm pretty sure it would beat Kentucky by more than six.

5. Johnny Football wants to go back to the Cotton Bowl. Texas A&M beat Vanderbilt 56-24. Ho hum.

Texas A&M's chances of making the SEC championship game are one Alabama win away from not existing, its shot at a BCS bowl likely died with the loss to Auburn and Johnny Offense's chances of a repeat Heisman Trophy win are on life support as long as Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston are still able to walk.3 So what does A&M have left to play for? The opportunity to stick it to a Big XII team again.

Unless something goofy happens in the SEC championship game (i.e. the team representing the East wins) the Aggies are in position to return to the Cotton Bowl where they might get to trounce Oklahoma for the second year in a row or take down Texas while they have the chance. There are only two games left that A&M should have any concern over – LSU and Missouri.

It might only take a win in one of those games to get the Cotton Bowl bid. Their biggest competition for it right now is the eventual Iron Bowl loser and LSU.

6. Some stuff about Furman. You might remember last year when LSU played – and fell behind to – Towson I got really excited and looked up some stuff about Towson. Well, the Tigers had some fun with Furman this week, falling behind twice and leading by only four at halftime before opening up a 48-16 win. Here's some stuff about the Paladins you didn't know.

First up, just what the heck is a Paladin? According to dictionary.com, it's "a heroic champion" and according to Wikipedia, it is a warrior of Charlemagne's court who known as the "Twelve Peers." That sounds an awful like the "12th Man" A&M and the Seattle Seahawks keep telling me is important, only this time it's not self-congratulatory grandstanding (literally).

The Paladins are from Greenville, S.C., and play at Paladin Stadium, which was built in 1981. Lay's potato chip founder Herman Lay and color television pioneer Thomas Goldsmith attended Furman, and the school has produced notable athletes such as soccer star Clint Dempsey and basketball star Frank Selvy, who holds the Division I record for scoring 100 points in a single game.

7. Ole Miss does pretty well when it plays a team that isn't worth a crap. Yeah, I know the Rebels beat LSU last week, but that team was losing to Furman, so I don't know how big of a deal that is. Sure, I called LSU the best team in the SEC a few weeks ago. Big deal. I was wrong, OK? Let's move on.

Ole Miss was impressive adequate not entirely terrible against Vanderbilt and Southeastern Missouri, and in Saturday's 59-14 win over Idaho actually looked somewhat good. I'm just guessing based on the score because under no circumstance is that a game I could be persuaded to watch.

Yeah, the Rebels beat Texas, but at that time Texas was firing assistant coaches and ready to fire Mack Brown if he got so much as a parking ticket.4 Ole Miss missed out on an upset of Texas A&M by three points, but A&M's defense is terrible, so everybody should come close to beating them.

The Rebels were terrible against Alabama and Auburn. Now, that's more like it. Despite all of their troubles and my refusal to accept them as a decent football team, Ole Miss is one win away from being bowl eligible and plays Arkansas and Troy, so they should exceed that. Missouri and Mississippi State will be tougher, but a respectable bowl bid is possible.

8. The James Franklin (coach) mystique is wearing off. I haven't talked much about Vanderbilt because it hasn't been very good, but bowl eligibility is still in the water.

The Commodores are 4-4 and could be bowl eligible with wins over Florida and Kentucky. They also play Tennessee and Wake Forest, which took No. 7 Miami to the wire. It may be more difficult to get there than expected.

Franklin might should have left after last season.

9. Auburn stayed true to its nocturnal instincts. Let's take another page from last year's playbook. I was all about referencing my frequent viewing of the Discovery Channel last season. I haven't gone back to that well this year, but since there's nothing else to really talk about in Auburn's 45-10 win over Florida Atlantic, I'm busting it out again.

Well, Nick Marshall got hurt late, but everything seems to point to him being OK.

First off, total failure here because tigers aren't nocturnal. They technically are crepuscular, which means they hunt in the evening and morning hours between daylight and dark. The game started at 6:30 p.m. Auburn time, and since the Tigers scored just over two minutes into the game and had enough points to win by four minutes into the game, I'm going to count it. Owls are nocturnal, which would explain why they didn't score until late in the second quarter.

Could you imagine a fight between a tiger and an owl? What a disaster that would be. When you search YouTube for "tiger and owl" you get nothing involving actual tigers and nothing interesting involving actual owls.

I think the tiger would win. The owl can fly, so it could just flee, but the tiger could swipe it from the sky and devour it in like 5 seconds. Auburn has an eagle as its mascot, and when you search YouTube for "eagle and owl" you hit pay dirt, but it's somewhat disturbing. The peaceful surroundings of a Canadian golf course were transformed to the site of a bloody massacre when the two birds of prey clashed. As was the case Saturday night, the eagle won. It also beat an octopus, which suggests Auburn might be able to beat the Detroit Red Wings.

I'll stop this labored analogy now, but this is what you get when I can't think of anything better to say.

10. Nothing? What exactly happened this week? Missouri losing was the biggest thing the SEC had to offer, but if you read entry No. 2, you saw that it was pretty much a given anyway. Everyone else held serve.

I wrote about Furman and a bird fight because with all the blowouts there was nothing else interesting to discuss. Next week should be better with Florida and Georgia battling to maintain their relevance, Auburn going on the road against Arkansas, South Carolina trying to keep its SEC championship hopes alive against Mississippi State, Missouri trying to rebound against Tennessee and Kentucky maybe beating Alabama State.

Oh, who am I kidding? That's going to be a terrible week, too. The SEC is not supposed to be this bad.

Extra points: 1Thanks, Obama. We know you were behind it. First you shut down the government and now you use your HAARP weather machine of doom to shut down Fox News. Where will it end?

2Is it just me or is the main camera position at Missouri a lot closer to the field than normal? I noticed this last week but didn't say anything, but it was really distracting me because it looks like the camera angle from the sideline is lower and closer to the field, which means you can't see as much of the field during a play. I Googled it and got nowhere. Maybe it's just me.

3Especially if Johnny Manziel reverts to his old ways and parties with cheerleaders or Charlie Sheen. In a video shown on the A&M Jumbotron during the game, Manziel said he would like to hang out with Sheen, Rob Gronkowski and Tiger Woods. That's a guy who got fired from a TV show for doing cocaine, an NFL player whose off-field exploits put Manziel's to shame and a man who sought treatment for sex addiction. Oh, Johnny, you never disappoint.

4Ever parked on a college campus? It's not hard to get a ticket. I used to hate the people who walked around campus with their little electronic ticket-writing doohickey trying to see if I had a Zone 3 decal but had accidentally parked in a Zone 2 space because there was no sign saying what zone I was in. And God help you if your decal was red and you parked in a blue spot. Those spots were for the faculty and in could get you towed.

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