The Mississippi State Bulldogs have reached the yearly matchup against the bye (Anyone have a game time or channel?), and they have started their season 4-0, something not accomplished in over ten years in Starkville.
That fact, coupled with the Bulldogs holding the No.19 spot in the coaches' poll and the No. 21 spot in the AP poll have many Mississippi State fans delighted with the season thus far. On the other hand, Bulldog fans have to wonder a bit about future matchups in the SEC. With the Bulldogs yet to play a complete game (Auburn was fairly close), Mississippi State fans have to wonder will the Bulldogs be even better in SEC play or might they regress.
That said, let's jump into a look at the Bulldogs' battle with the University of South Alabama.
The Good: This column has been a bit tough on the kid when he did not have good games, so it is only fair to give Devon Bell credit for looking like he has his mechanics and confidence all going in the right direction. There may not be a more mental part of football than kicking, and if Bell has reached the right state of mind, he may end up with some late game heroics and have his name etched in time like Brian Hazelwood and Scott Westerfield.
The Bad: There seemed to be a bit of overall sluggishness to the Bulldogs in this game. There is no way to spin the fact that this game was a scoreless tie after one quarter. Mississippi State is a better team, and this game should have been moving towards the out-of-reach area after the first quarter. The fact that it did not makes some wonder if this is a team that plays up or down to their opponents.
The Ugly: This one is for the fans who had to shell out hard-earned cash to watch what was basically the Bulldogs second home game against an FCS school. Yes, South Alabama is a transitioning program, but they are not full-fledged FBS members yet. This is just one of many boring games on the home slate for the Bulldogs. In fact, Mississippi State, who plays in the SEC West, may go the whole season without seeing a ranked foe at home. Does the SEC schedule play a role in this? Does the surprise swoon of Arkansas play a part here? Does this just happen some years? Yes. Yes. Yes. It just stinks for fans who bought tickets to a season highlighted by a manufactured rivalry with Texas A&M and middle of the road Tennessee team.
Stick around for the SEC Recap, Awards, Power Rankings and Something New!
No. 14 Florida 38, Kentucky 0: In what turned into a snoozer in Gainesville, the Gators stomped the Wildcats for the 26th straight time. For those more politically inclined, the Wildcats have not won against Florida since the Reagan Administration. Unified Germany has never seen Kentucky beat Florida. Yikes!
Ole Miss 39, Tulane 0: The Rebels picked up their third victory by controlling the ground game against Tulane. While Ole Miss fans rejoice, I think most would have given them a 3-1 start. Could they go bowling? With games against Arkansas, Auburn and Vandy on the schedule, who knows?
No. 7 South Carolina 31, Missouri 10: Every time it seems like South Carolina is slipping from its perch, the Gamecocks climb back up. Connor Shaw finished the game in rookie mode, completing his last 20 passes.
No. 1 Alabama 40, Florida Atlantic 7: Hey that speed possessed by the Owls paid off in a touchdown. Wait, it was against the Bama JV defense...oh.
No. 2 LSU 12, Auburn 10: No one will complain about a win on the road in the SEC, but LSU did not want the Battle of the Tigers to be this close. This game wins the award for what does one take from this game? Don't read too much into it.
Rutgers 35, Arkansas 26: The disaster in Fayetteville just gets worse each week. The Razorbacks have now lost to a team from the Big East. Hard to believe this Arkansas team was ranked No. 3 in all the land last year!
Texas A&M 70, South Carolina State 14: Congrats to the Aggies on picking up their first SEC win over South Carolina...oh, that's South Carolina State....Dang....
Tennessee 47, Akron 26: The Volunteers found themselves tied with the Zips at the half, but won the second half 20-3 to pick up the victory. In true Tennessee form, many in Vol nation want to fire their 3-1 head coach.
No. 5 Georgia 48, Vanderbilt 3: Remember when Vandy could be that dark horse challenger in the SEC East? Seems like a long time ago. Looks like Georgia at South Carolina will be a huge matchup for the SEC East. The two weeks after that, the Gators try out both teams. October will be a blast in the SEC East.
SEC Offensive Player of the Week: Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas-The senior receiver had ten catches all year, and he doubled that and added 303 yards (to his 126 yards on the season) and three touchdowns to his stats. In fact, after touchdown catches of 80 and 54 yards, his touchdown catch of 10 yards killed his average, which still finished at 30.3 YPC.
SEC Defensive Player of the Week: Sam Montgomery, LSU-Montgomery stood out amongst the crowd on a great defense as the LSU Tigers picked up a tough 12-10 road victory. He finished his night with a sack and 3.5 tackles in the backfield. Perhaps his most important tackle for a loss was when he brought down Tre Mason in the end zone after a red zone turnover. The two points from the safety equaled LSU's margin of victory.
SEC Standings (Bulldogs still on top of the West for third straight week)
SEC EAST: 1. Florida (3-0), T2. Georgia (2-0), T2. South Carolina (2-0), T4. Tennessee (0-1), T4. Kentucky (0-1), T6. Missouri (0-2), T6. Kentucky (0-2)
SEC WEST: 1. Mississippi State (1-0), T1.Alabama (1-0), T1. LSU (1-0), 4. Ole Miss (0-0) T5. Texas A&M (0-1) T5. Arkansas (0-1), 7. Auburn (0-2)
SEC Power Ranking:
4. South Carolina
6. Mississippi State
8. Texas A&M
10. Ole Miss
Poll facts that may only interest me: In the coaches' poll, 70% of the top ten come from the SEC or Big 12, 66% of the top 15 do the same, and 55% of the top 20. It looks like Oregon and Stanford will go it alone in the PAC-12, so it should be a bit of fun watching other conferences make a run for the BCS title game.
I think both polls made mistakes in ranking Oregon above LSU, and I'm a little unsure as to how Nebraska can be ranked, but UCLA not.