Best SEC Games for Week 3
The SEC's argument for being the most dominant conference took a serious hit over the weekend.
The conference went 12-1 in the opening weekend of college football, which led to 10 SEC teams being ranked in the first AP top 25. Week two was not nearly as successful, and the "SEC teams beat up on each other" argument cannot be used this early in the season.
Here is a quick recap for those who may have missed some of the drama that unfolded on Saturday:
- Auburn needed overtime to defeat Jacksonville State, an FCS opponent, 27-20.
- Toledo completed its upset over Arkansas with a 16-12 win.
- Tennessee fell to Oklahoma 31-24 in overtime despite having a 14-point lead at halftime.
- Missouri needed a big second half to knock off Arkansas State, 27-20.
It was just one week, but SEC teams need to a bounce back week if they want to keep alive the assertion that they are indeed the toughest conference in the country.
The teams playing this week's top games have a great opportunity to show just how dominate they really are.
**Note: All stats, unless otherwise noted, are courtesy of cfbstats.com**
Ole Miss was the only team to take down Alabama during the 2014 regular season. The Crimson Tide still won the the SEC Championship and made it to the College Football Playoff, but we can assure you that Nick Saban has not forgotten about the Rebels.
Tide fans will go into this game worrying about revenge. However, Saban has yet to establish who his starting quarterback will be. Instead, he is waiting for Jake Coker or Cooper Bateman to take the bull by the horns. Fortunately, Saban can hang his hat on running backs Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake, who are both averaging over seven yards per carry.
Meanwhile, Ole Miss has the farthest thing from quarterback issues. Chad Kelly has over 278 passing yards per game, and the team is averaging 74.5 points per game. And yes we are still talking about football. It should also be noted that these video game numbers have been put up against inferior opponents, but it is a testament to what this team is capable of doing.
No matter how many question marks surround Alabama, it is still extremely tough to beat them at home due to the overall level of talent. There is an equal level of talent at Ole Miss, and it will be interesting to see which one team can come out on top.
Auburn's overtime win over Jacksonville State last week has caused this matchup to lose some of its usual hype, but history has proven that these two teams always battle it out in a close game.
A case can also be made that history will not matter in this game. Jeremy Johnson has already thrown five interceptions this season, which is tied for most in the country. All fingers are pointing to Johnson, but the ground game has not been much better. The Tigers are averaging 177.5 rushing yards per game compared to last year's 255 rushing yards per game.
Now history can indeed repeat itself if Auburn figures out how to slow down Leonard Fournette. Quarterback Brandon Harris only threw for 71 yards against Mississippi State, so Fournette's 28 carries and three touchdowns literally won them the game. Stopping Fournette is extremely difficult, but it is not impossible. Especially for a defense that is led by Will Muschamp.
Auburn has not won in Baton Rouge since 1999, so history is not on Gus Malzahn's side in this one. However, history also says that this annual matchup has a tendency of coming down to the wire.
Last year's game between Florida and Kentucky was one for the history books. Kentucky might have won the game if a delay of game penalty had been called against the Gators during the first overtime. Instead, Florida won the game in triple overtime.
Confidence is at an all-time high in Lexington seeing that Kentucky is coming off of an upset win over South Carolina. The Wildcats feel that they can do the same thing to Florida on Saturday. Stanley Williams is averaging over 10 yards per carry on the ground, and Patrick Towles is averaging 224 yards per game through the air. In other words, it is very possible that Kentucky pulls back-to-back upsets.
This not to say that Florida will be an easy team to beat because that is not true. Jim McElwain has already found consistency in his passing game with Will Grier and Treon Harris. Both quarterbacks are completing over 70 percent of their passes so far. Defensively, the Gators do an excellent job of stopping the run, but they will be tested on Saturday against Kentucky's Air Raid offense.
The Wildcats have not beaten Florida since 1986, so the Big Blue Nation is hungry for a win. Last year's matchup was one of the best games of the 2014 season, and the 2015 version may be just as good.