After seven straight victories this season, and nine overall dating back to the 2011 Battle for the Golden Egg, the Mississippi State Bulldogs must bounce back from a loss following a 38-7 loss to Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
It will be interesting to see how this team bounces back from such a loss, especially with a talented Texas A&M team coming to Starkville Saturday. Before moving on to the Aggies, here is a rewind of the weekend that was.
The Good: Looking at the game, it can be difficult to find the good for the Bulldogs, but it does exist. Mississippi State moved the ball on a few occasions against the Crimson Tide, and they had a legitimate chance to put at least three touchdowns on the board.
Since the loss was disappointing, here is a second positive. The Bulldogs did not drop very far in the polls, perhaps a sign of respect for this Mississippi State squad.
The Bad: Mississippi State seemed a big shell-shocked in this game. Playing in that first big game can always be a bit difficult, and the Bulldogs proved that. The hope has to be that Bulldogs learn from the experience to bounce back over the next two weeks.
The Ugly: Special teams play has become a thorn in the side for Mississippi State (more on this later). Against a team like Alabama, Mississippi State could not afford to settle for field goals, and when they did have to settle, they sure could not afford to have that attempt blocked. Another problem, the Bulldogs saw problems on kickoff coverage.....again.
Missouri 33, Kentucky 10: Missouri picked up their first SEC victory by forcing Kentucky into several turnovers. The loss, which has to frustrate the Wildcats, probably sealed the fate on Kentucky going winless in the SEC, and that may seal the fate of Joker Philips.
No. 13 South Carolina 38, Tennessee 35: The Gamecocks may have earned the victory over Tennessee, but the cost to their team is nearly impossible to calculate. With Marcus Lattimore finished for this season and possibly 2013, the question becomes can Connor Shaw and the defense keep the ship going the right way. Awful to see such an injury to a person like Lattimore.
Ole Miss 30, Arkansas 27: In a huge win for Hugh Freeze and company, the Rebels eked out a three-point win in Little Rock on a last second field goal. The Rebels have taken advantage of most opportunities given to them this year, and look very likely to qualify for a bowl game. Arkansas most likely will come to Starkville needing a win to try to earn bowl eligibility.
No. 10 Georgia 17, No. 2 Florida 9: The Gators lack of offense proved to be a bit too much to win the world's largest cocktail party. Of course, the Georgia defense caused a good bit of the problem. The loss puts Georgia in control of the SEC East, and may have kept their national championship hopes alive. All may not be lost for the Gators, as they have several games against quality teams left, and we all know crazy can happen.
No. 20 Texas A&M 63, Auburn 21: The legend of Johnny Football continues to grow as the freshman is closing in on the SEC total yardage record, only needing about 1300 yards with four games to go. On the other side of the ball, it is quite obvious the Auburn Tigers have quit.
Vanderbilt 49, Massachusetts 7: The Commodores keep their hopes for bowl eligibility alive by knocking off the visiting Minutemen. This game would be much more exciting on the hardwood instead of the gridiron.
SEC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M- Honestly, I wanted to find a way to give this award to someone else because Manziel has already won this award two times this year, but at the end of the day, he had the most impressive game. Tyler Bray had bigger numbers, but he also missed on many critical throws in the game.
However, I could not ignore Connor Shaw (South Carolina), who threw for 356 yards and three touchdowns. He also picked up 34 yards on the ground, and led his team after watching Lattimore go down with injury.
So there you have it...co-winners.
SEC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Jarvis Jones, Georgia- Jones may never have a greater game in his life. The junior linebacker wrecked the Gators, picking up 13 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss (3 of which were sacks), forcing two fumbles and recovering two fumbles. How much does Southern California miss this guy?
SEC POWER RANKINGS: After SEC play concluded Saturday, I realized this would be a near impossible job this week. Georgia climbed four spots this week on the weight of their win over Florida. Yes, South Carolina defeated Georgia earlier, but it is hard to believe the Gamecocks will be close to their previous level after losing Marcus Lattimore to a horrid knee injury. Yes, the Gamecocks went 5-1 without the running back last year, but it can be tough to capture lightening twice. Spots 8-14 did not change this week. Ole Miss looks like the one team that can leap from the lower six schools into the top seven, All of the others seemed destined to remain there for the rest of the year. Auburn, which looks like they have completely quit, stay at No. 14.
1. Alabama (1)
2. Georgia (6)
3. Florida (2)
4. LSU (4)
5. Mississippi State (3)
6. Texas A&M (7)
7. South Carolina (5)
8. Ole Miss (8)
9. Tennessee (9)
10. Arkansas (10)
11. Vanderbilt (11)
12. Missouri (12)
13. Kentucky (13)
Five Things I Thought About the Week (Sports Related)
1. Is there any chance that Nick Saban might go down as the greatest coach in Alabama history? I know it sounds crazy, but if his squad takes this year's championship, he will be halfway to Bear Bryant. If he ties or passes, which would mean he would probably coach ten more years (conservatively), you could count on no fewer than 8 wins in non-championship seasons, and 14 wins in championship years, it would give him 102 more wins for 171 wins at Alabama. Yes, that is short of Bryant, but it may be more impressive.
2. Do the Bulldogs need a shake up at special teams? The third phase of the game has been a thorn in the side of the Bulldogs all year. With limited contact time, it can be tough to coach this unit up the right way. Should a new set of eyes be watching this group at practice?
Kick returns kept Auburn and Tennessee in games, and put Mississippi State behind the eight-ball quickly against the Tide.
3. The Bulldogs were in trouble the instant Alabama took the opening return to near midfield. The whole reason you kick to open the game is to have a chance to immediately take control of field position. By letting the return team come to midfield, you have already blown that. Mississippi State, looking back at their first drive would have been better off taking the ball first.
4. Anyone else getting a sinking feeling that the BCS is going to give us a Notre Dame/Alabama title game?
5. The Marcus Lattimore injury is further proof that NCAA athletes are completely ripped off by the system. Players, healthy or not, should have a way to be compensated for their work. The scholarship argument is a joke as well, because just as anyone who is smart enough can try to earn an academic scholarship, anyone who is talented enough can win an athletic scholarship.