With a quarter of the season in the books, the Mississippi State Bulldogs have raced to a 3-0 start (the best start since 8-0 in 1999), and the Bulldogs have picked up a road victory and an SEC victory in the process.
Though Mississippi State needed late game theatrics to stretch its fourth quarter lead, the Bulldogs never trailed but for a few minutes in the first quarter.
The Good: I thought picking the right person after the Auburn win was difficult. This is much more difficult. The Bulldogs had three players really step up in this game, and a fourth that made an impact just by dressing out and walking on the field.
Tyler Russell had another solid performance, tossing for 244 yards and three touchdowns on eleven completions. Those totals should have been higher, but his receivers dropped seven passes. The man who hauled in half of those completions, Chad Bumphis, finished with six catches for 180 yards and three touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball, Darius Slay picked two passes to kill Troy drives in the second quarter. He also had a huge recovery of a muffed punt in the first quarter. On both of the interceptions, Johnthan Banks blitzed Corey Robinson off of the corner because the Bulldogs knew Troy did not want to test Banks.
The forgotten man of the week has been Ladarius Perkins. He turned in a fantastic game, toting the ball 23 times for 179 yards and a score. However, he should most be praised for slamming the door on an upset with the way he ran out the fourth quarter.
In the end, there can be only one: Darius Slay gets the nod here. If Slay does not snag the muffed punt, which led to a Bulldog touchdown, this game may have played out differently. The same can be said for his two second quarter interceptions.
The Bad: It really seems like this column has beaten up the kicking game all year, so I will go after it once more. Yes, Devon Bell finally made a field goal. He also doinked a point after attempt. No kicker on the roster has earned Dan Mullen's confidence. It almost mattered Saturday. It should not matter against South Alabama or Kentucky, but it could matter in a big way against Tennessee.
The Ugly: Yes, the defense looked rough in the second half, and yes, I hear you-I have no idea why they played so soft against a good passing attack, but the ugly has to go to the receiving corps. Seven dropped passes should not happen in a game.
Russell hit many players in the hands all game long, and the ball bounced straight up. Every time a ball does that, it sets up for a crushing interception. Why did they receivers struggle? Was it a different stadium set up? Was the hit on Arceto Clark still in their minds? Who knows, but that better have been a one game anomaly.
Make sure to vote and read the SEC round up and awards after the bump!
Auburn 31, UL-Monroe 28: The Warhawks almost moved to 2-0 in the SEC West, but the Tigers picked up an overtime victory. Got a feeling that Gene Chizik still has a toasty backside this morning.
Vanderbilt 58, Presbyterian 0: The Blue Hose knew their role, and they played tomato can to the fullest in the clobbering at the hands of the Commodores, who picked up their first win of the season.
#1 Alabama 52, Arkansas 0: Tyler Wilson has made a case for MVP without playing. Arkansas is dead in the water with out him. The Tide may be served papers for killing the career of John L. Smith later.
Texas A&M 48, SMU 3: Sorry Mustangs. Because of your association with Craig James, the world roots against you. Johnny Manziel tossed for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns in the win.
#18 Florida 37, #23 Tennessee 20: In a bit of a surprise, the Gators handled the Volunteers in the second half in Knoxville to walk away with a win. Trailing 14-10 at the half, Florida outscored Tennessee 27-6 in the second half to move to 3-0 and 2-0 in the SEC East.
Western Kentucky 32, Kentucky 31: The Hilltoppers ran a little trickeration to knock off Kentucky, who should really consider basketball only membership in the SEC.
Missouri 24, Arizona State 20: Corbin "I have the best last name in the SEC" Berkstresser, picked up a win in his first career start to keep Missouri above .500 on the season.
#8 South Carolina 49, UAB 6: The Gamecocks picked up another ho-hum victory, but for the second time this season, Connor Shaw injured his throwing shoulder. That is not good for the Gamecocks as they prepare for the surprisingly competitive SEC East.
Georgia 56, Florida Atlantic 20: The Bulldogs piled up a school record 713 yards in a laugher.
LSU 63, Idaho 14: The Vandals got vandalized...NEXT!
#14 Texas, Ole Miss 31: In the game that interrupted some party, the Longhorns dismantled the Rebels. Does anyone outside of Oxford really care about The Grove? Do Ole Miss fans truly care more about the tailgating than the game? After this week, I think those are the burning questions for the Rebels.
SEC Offensive Player of the Week: Call me a homer, but Chad Bumphis, please come up to accept your award. In a week where no one stood out too much, 180 yards receiving and three touchdown catches do.
SEC Defensive Player of the Week: Maybe a bit homer-ish as well, but give Darius Slay a round of applause. Coming up with two picks and fumble recovery is impressive.
SEC Standings (golf leader board style): Mississippi State still tops in the West
SEC West: 1. Mississippi State (3-0, 1-0), T1. Alabama (3-0, 1-0), 3. LSU (3-0, 0-0), 4. Ole Miss (2-1, 0-0), 5. Texas A&M (1-1, 0-1), 6. Arkansas (1-2, 0-1), 7. Auburn (1-2, 0-1)
SEC East: 1. Florida (3-0, 2-0), T2. South Carolina (3-0, 1-0), T2. Georgia (3-0, 1-0), 4. Kentucky (1-2, 0-0), T5. Vandy (1-2, 0-1), T5. Missouri (2-1, 0-1), T5. Tennessee (2-1, 0-1)
SEC POWER RANKINGS:
4. South Carolina
6. Mississippi State
8. Texas A&M
12. Ole Miss
Quite a bit of separation occurring in the SEC. There is a bit of gap between two and three. Georgia sits all alone at number 3. South Carolina, Florida and Mississippi State are all a bit interchangeable, as the teams in places 8-10. Tennessee seams solid at 7 this week. The final four spots are just UGLY.
Til next week.........