Thoughts on Mississippi State's win over Kentucky, plus a round of SEC games, awards, SEC power rankings and other thoughts from around the sports world.
When the clock struck all zeros in Lexington, the Mississippi State Bulldogs found themselves in the uncommon position of being 5-0 to open the season. With winnable contests the next two weeks, Mississippi State could reach 7-0 for only the second time in team history before they face the Alabama Crimson Tide. But, before the Bulldogs do that, they will look back at the tape before playing Tennessee, so this post will do the same.
The Good: LaDarius Perkins has proven he can be an everydown back. The guy had 28 touches for 163 yards and a score against Kentucky. Chad Bumphis has finally lived up to the hype surrounding his time at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs look to be firing on all cylinders on the offense.
The Bad: The Bulldogs seemed to slip into a little bit of second half apathy in this game, and many Bulldog fans worry about this trend. Many want to see the Bulldogs show a killer instinct when the opportunity to put a game away in an emphatic way shows itself. Mississippi State has not done that yet, but they may have another opportunity against Tennessee this weekend.
The Ugly: If Baker Swedenberg was ever going to shank a punt, he did it at the right time. It may have been the biggest misfire for the Bulldogs, and one that MSU fans will unlikely see again. If a shanked punt that did not impact the game is the ugly, it was a pretty week for Mississippi State.
Arkansas 24, Auburn 7: Arkansas made everyone think twice before writing the obituary on the Razorbacks' season. Will it be the year they expected back in March? Absolutely not, but six wins and a bowl game are no longer out of the question. On the flip side, what the heck has happened to Auburn? Gene Chizik is looking more like the coach from Iowa State than the one who won a national title a few years ago.
No. 10 Florida 14, No. 4 LSU 6: In a game expected to be one of the closest matchups of the weekend, the Gators defense combined with the lack of anything on the LSU offense put Florida over the top. The question for Florida at this point is what is the ceiling? Do not be shocked to see the Gators in Atlanta. For LSU, what would the story be if the Tigers had a quarterback the last three years? The Tigers may be lucky to escape with 3 or fewer losses this season.
Vanderbilt 19, Missouri 15: Well, they had to play the game because it was on the schedule. Missouri suffered more quarterback woes, and the Commodores notched their first SEC victory of the season. Everyone won when this game ended.
Texas A&M 30, Ole Miss 27: Rebel fans may want to revise the rebirth schedule and say that their team may only be in the second trimester of said rebirth. Ole Miss should have won this game, but some interesting playcalling let Ole Miss snatch defeat from the Jaws of victory. Credit must also go Texas A&M for hanging around in the game. Interesting how a week ago, the Rebels were so unified in the idea that their glory days were coming back, but this week, they are destroying players and fans on twitter.
No. 6 South Carolina 35, No. 5 Georgia 7: A South Carolina victory would not have been surprising. What was surprising was the way the Gamecocks destroyed the Bulldogs. Columbia was rocking Saturday night, and their team now has legitimate hopes at an SEC East, SEC, and National Title. For the Bulldogs, one has to wonder how Mark Richt bounces back from another disappointing loss against a top team, and thoughts and prayers go out to the Aaron Murray's father, who was just diagnosed with cancer.
SEC Offensive Player of the Week: Chad Bumphis, Mississippi State-On a week without many standout offensive performances, Bumphis gets the nod when the impact of this weekend on his career and the Mississippi State record book is examined. Bumphis, who finished with 9 catches and 104 yards and a touchdown to put the game out of reach, moved past Justin Jenkins and Eric Moulds in the Bulldogs' record book when he caught the touchdown, his 18th of his career.
SEC Defensive Player of the Week: Kevin Minter, LSU-There were many outstanding candidates including Josh Boyd (MSU) and Trey Flowers (Arkansas), but the nod goes to Minter. The linebacker finished with 17 solo tackles (20 in all), and he picked up two sacks and a forced fumble.
SEC POWER RANKINGS: Working out the power rankings proved to be a bit of a challenge this week. Alabama remains a no-brainer at the top spot, and I felt South Carolina just edged out Florida. LSU's recent woes on offense has made them a difficult team to place. I'm not sure Mississippi State beats them in Baton Rouge, but I could not really see any valid reason to rank LSU above the Bulldogs. The bottom may be the most fluid, based on which team suffers the worst defeat each week.
1. Alabama (1)
2. South Carolina (4)
3. Florida (5)
4. Georgia (2)
5. Mississippi State (6)
6. LSU (3)
7. Texas A&M (7)
8. Tennessee (8)
9. Ole Miss (9)
10. Arkansas (14)
12. Missouri (9)
13. Auburn (11)
14. Kentucky (13)
SEC Standings (West): 1. Mississippi State (5-0, 2-0) T1. Alabama (5-0, 2-0), 3. Texas A&M (4-1, 2-1), 4. LSU (4-1, 1-1), 5. Arkansas (2-4, 1-2), 6. Ole Miss (3-3, 0-2), T6. Auburn (1-4, 0-3)
SEC Standings (East): 1. South Carolina (6-0, 4-0), T1. Florida (5-0, 4-0), 3. Georgia (5-1, 3-1), 4. Vanderbilt (2-3, 1-2), 5. Tennessee (3-2, 0-2), 6. Missouri (3-3, 0-3), T6. Kentucky (1-5, 0-3)
Five Things I Thought About This Week (Sports Related):
1. Miguel Caberera captures the Triple Crown, the first time in the lives of anyone at this blog that it happened, and it was only a blip on the national media radar. Why? Is it because he is in Detroit, and ESPN has tried to render anything outside of New York, Miami, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles as second rate? I think it may have to do with how far baseball as fallen in the hearts of fans. I pretty much gave up on MLB after the steroid scandal, and I think many others are with me. I love high school and college baseball, but I don't care about The Show.
2. Watching Peyton Manning and Tom Brady warm up made me think of this stat: Not since Tom Landry roamed the sidelines of the Cowboys have a coach and a quarterback combo that lost a Super Bowl managed to comeback to win one. Manning is new a new city with a new coach, so he might still have a chance. If that stat holds true, it is hard to believe that Belichick/Brady and Tomlin/Roethlisberger will not win one. In case you are wondering, New England and Pittsburgh are the two winningest teams since October 2001.
3. Where do you draw the line at rooting for former players from your college favorites? I am a huge Steelers fan, and I can tell you this: I did not want to hear on positive word about Jamar Cheney or Fletcher Cox in that game.
4. Thoughts and prayers to Chuck Pagano as he battles Lukemia. Even if it is said to be highly treatable, I cannot imagine how it feels. If you are looking for an MSU connection, the Colts' offensive coordinator and interim coach, Bruce Arians worked at Mississippi State as the offensive coordinator for Jackie Sherrill. Very few more successful assistants (Johnny Majors?) have passed through Starkville.
5. Michael Phelps drilling a 150-foot putt is just crazy. Must be nice to, you know, take lessons from awesome teachers and be a freak of an athelete.
Five WTFs from the Sports World:
1. People debating the finer points of the infield fly: I have to say, I love the one game play-in. Yes, I know it means Atlanta got eliminated in what is basically game 163 by a team that was more than six behind in the standings. However, I always thought the wildcard skewed in the favor of teams in a weak division
However, what a crazy debate over the infield fly rule. The infield fly is a judgment call, so MLB made the right call not upholding the protest. This is what happens with vaguely written judgement call rules. Could the infielder have made the play with reasonable effort? The video says yes, but they eye also says that ball did not land anywhere near the infield. Add to the mix that it was the final game for Chipper Jones, and this becomes quite an event for the first ever wildcard game in MLB history. For what it's worth, that was probably the right call.
2. Cincinnati Bengals: You are down four with three minutes to go. You have fourth and short in plus territory and you try a 40-yard plus field goal. Of course, the kicker misses it, meaning the Bengals gained nothing. They got the ball back with under two minutes, but they didn't threaten to win as Andy Dalton got picked on a pass over the middle with 90 seconds or so to go.
3. ACC Football: What an awful conference! I think it is safe to say that the Florida State Kool-Aid was a bit premature. Virginia Tech entered the season vastly overrated as usual. This will be an Orange Bowl slaughter for someone.
4. You are a third string quarterback, Cardale Jones. I think classes should be a bit more important to you since your hopes of being a pro player are practically pointless (unless you are Matt Cassell).
5. It happens from time to time in sports, but it is always shocking when a death threat against an athlete comes to light. The fact that someone made a photoshopped image of a decapitated Roger Federer and posted it with a threat is disturbing. What might be more disturbing is the ease in which fans have reached players on the court in professional tennis. See Monica Seles, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal.