While #webelieve'd the Bulldogs could beat Alabama, most Mississippi State fans did not experience a shocking feeling from that loss. Nope, that came after Mississippi State lost #snowbowl12, known to the rest of the world as an SEC West match-up between two teams in the top-16 of the BCS. So, how did Mississippi State lose this game, one that should have been a win based on results from twelve years ago? Read on...
The Good: Cam Lawrence stood out as a player whose motor never stopped in Mississippi State's loss to Texas A&M. The senior linebacker showed heart and effort until the final horn, and hopefully, that determination will spill over to the rest of his teammates. Credit must also go to Baker Swedenberg for another solid performance.
The Bad: The Bulldogs lost this game on first down plays. If you say a pick up of four yards on a first down play is a win, the Bulldogs had the following "record" on first down: 4-2 in the first quarter, 1-3 in the second quarter, 2-3 in the third quarter, and 7-1 in the fourth quarter for a total of 14-9, but 5-5 in the first half and 7-8 with the game still in the balance. That number will not win football games. How important was first down to Mississippi State offensively? On their two touchdown drives, the Bulldogs went 6-2 on first down.
On the other side, the Aggie had the following record on first down: 6-3 in the first quarter, 12-3 in the second quarter, 5-6 in the third quarter, and 4-4 in the fourth quarter for a total of 27-16 in the game.
Play on first down made a huge impact on this football game.
The Ugly: The loss of fundamentals in this football game defied comprehension. I am not sure I have ever seen so many missed tackles in a football game. It seemed as if the Mississippi State defenders nearly always took the wrong angle when going after a ball carrier.
On offense, the Bulldogs found themselves down so far so fast that it felt like they had to abandon their usual game plan and go to the air more than they wanted.
No. 7 Florida 14, Missouri 7: The Gators defense again bailed out a Florida team that cannot seem to put points on the board. Missouri almost pulled out the stunner in The Swamp, but came up a bit short.
Vanderbilt 40, Kentucky 0: Vanderbilt went into a near empty Commonwealth Stadium and laid such a beating on Kentucky that the Wildcats decided to announce it sealed the fate of head coach Joker Phillips. Of course, until Kentucky actually tries at football, it won't matter who wears the headsets.
Tennessee 55, Troy 48: A 21-point fourth quarter performance saved the Volunteers from dropping a decision at home to a Sun Belt foe. While the win helps Tennessee try to make a bowl game (Kentucky and Vandy both remain), one has to wonder if having to rally late in the game helps or hurts Derek Dooley at Tennessee.
Arkansas 19, Tulsa 15: The Razorbacks eked out a victory over the Golden Hurricanes in Fayetteville to keep bowl hopes alive. However, with injuries starting to mount, on has to wonder if Arkansas can cross the finish line.
Auburn 42, New Mexico State 7: What a difference playing a different Aggies team can make. This game was 7-0 at the half, but the Tigers won the second half 35-7 to pick up the win. Momentum as they head towards Georgia? Probably not.
No. 6 Georgia 37, Ole Miss 10: The Rebels played nearly a perfect half of football, and thanks to plays in the final seconds of the half, they found themselves trailing 14-10 at the half. Georgia predictably rolled through the second half on their way to a victory Between the Hedges.
No. 1 Alabama 21, No. 5 LSU 17: For a brief moment, it looked like the LSU Tigers had played their cards right to stun the Crimson Tide again. For a brief moment, it looked like the SEC might get shut out of the national title game, and in a brief moment, A. J McCarron sealed the deal on screen pass to T.J. Yeldon to keep Alabama going. Hard to believe it, but America may have witnessed the Tide grow up Saturday. Auburn has to be terrified of what's coming in a few weeks.
SEC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: A. J. McCarron, Alabama This week presented a tough choice. Go with the stats guy (Manziel), or go with the guy who led his team on a national championship saving drive on the road against a top five time with precious little time on the clock. In the end, I had to go with number 10. Did he have the greatest stats? Nope. Did he have the most impressive moment of the weekend? Yep.
SEC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Alec Ogletree, Georgia: Not a bad day in the office when you pick up eleven tackles, a sack, an interception and a safety.
SEC POWER RANKINGS: This keeps getting tougher, but that is part of it. I try very hard to live by the rule that you can't jump a team that defeated you, but the fact is that one game may not tell the whole story. That said, here is the best guess I have....for this week only.
1. Alabama (1)
2. Georgia (2)
3. LSU (4)
4. Florida (3)
5. Texas A&M (6)
6. South Carolina (7)
7. Mississippi State (5)
8. Tennessee (9)
9. Ole Miss (8)
10. Vanderbilt (11)
11. Arkansas (10)
12. Missouri (12)
13. Auburn (14)
14. Kentucky (13)
FIVE THINGS I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS WEEK (SPORTS RELATED)
1. Dan Mullen is still learning as a head coach. I felt the game against Texas A&M really showed that. What stood out to me was the fact that Mississippi State left the first half with three timeouts. While using timeouts to stop momentum is more thought of in basketball, the Bulldogs would have benefited from a timeout somewhere in the first half to slow things down. It could not have hurt. Also interesting, not challenging or fighting for a measurement on a bad first down spot for Texas A&M. Of course, the bad spot was negated by a bad fumble call in the end zone against the Aggies. S-E-C S-E-C S-E-C.
2. LSU may be at an interesting crossroads. They have an Alabama problem. Yes, they beat the Tide last year in Tuscaloosa, but Alabama helped them a bit. They got thumped in the National Championship last year, and this year, they lost a heartbreaker. How much longer will whispers stay whispers about Les Miles not getting past Nick Saban.
3. I loathed the #snowbowl12 hashtag and gimmick. I am very glad it is over. While I seriously doubt that Mississippi State players were only focused on a game from 12 years ago, it gives off the perception that the Independence Bowl was all MSU people cared about. It also gave people a great laugh. #makeitstop
4. Are there really only three weeks left in the regular season for football?
5. While most eighth-graders are fighting acne and fearing walking into a locker room or learning how to kiss with braces, Guan Tianlang went out and won the Asia-Pacific Amateur by one shot. The win, which required sinking a five-foot par putt puts the 14-year-old in the Masters, where he is thought to be the youngest player ever in a Major tournament. Congrats.