Few things in sports leaves a sick feeling in a fan's gut than knowing his or her team had everything in place for an upset, but the team just could not put all the magic together to make it happen. That was the story Saturday night in Starkville as Mississippi State missed out on capitalizing on an upset bid.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
The Good: The Mississippi State defense stole the show Saturday night in Starkville. When Geoff Collins talked about mayhem, there might not have been a better example than what happened at Davis Wade Stadium against the Crimson Tide. Taveze Calhoun picked off A. J. McCarron on two occasions. Freshman phenom Chris Jones picked up a sack against the Alabama offensive line. The defense held Alabama to their lowest point total of the season, only giving up 20 points. They also held the Crimson Tide to only 383 yards of offense, well below their season average. Overall, the defense forced four turnovers.
The only knock on this defense? They gave up another late first half touchdown. That has been a killer for the Bulldogs this season.
Overall, fans have to love the way the defense played, and Geoff Collins will add this one to his resume.
The Bad: Mississippi State showed an amazing ability to be unable to score inside the red zone. In fact, Mississippi State was lucky to score their lone touchdown. To put all of this in perspective, the Bulldogs failed to gain any points running plays from their own two yard line. Mississippi State also had a dropped touchdown pass. If those two sequences find the end zone, the final score might have been Mississippi State 21, Alabama 20.
In other unpleasant news, Tyler Russell suffered an injury late in the game, so Mississippi State will have a murky quarterback situation for the rest of the year.
The Ugly: This section could pretty much be a cut and paste job. Mississippi State is dreadful on special teams. Neither punter had a particularly good game punting. Evan Sobiesk, who gave fans hope following Devon Bell, shanked a 23-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter that would have forced a 3-3 tie.
Jameon Lewis had his worst game in quite some time. He made three bad decisions on punt returns and had multiple drops in the passing game.
To pull off an upset, these things just cannot happen.
SEC Power Rankings
1) Alabama (1): The Crimson Tide withstood the upset-minded nature of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and held on for a 20-7 win that never quite felt threatened. They will rest up with a glorified scrimmage with UT-Chattanooga before facing Auburn in what might be one of the biggest Iron Bowls in history.
2) Auburn (2): One would have to excuse Auburn fans if they expect everyone in front of them to lose while they win the Iron Bowl on the way to national title this year. After the insane ending of the Georgia game, could you blame them?
3) Missouri (3): The Missouri Tigers really feel like the forgotten team in the SEC. They still control their own destiny to win the SEC, and no one is talking much about them. Their matchup with Ole Miss Saturday should be a dandy in Oxford.
4) Texas A&M (4): The Aggies have two tough games to close out the season at LSU and at Missouri. Should they win both, Johnny Manziel might make the Sugar Bowl his final college game. Then he might oversleep the next morning. Then Kevin Sumlin might head to USC.
5) Ole Miss (6): Ole Miss destroyed Troy Saturday in Oxford. The fact of the matter is that Ole Miss only has three losses, and they came against three really good teams: Alabama, Auburn, and Texas A&M.
6) LSU (7): The Tigers had a bye week this week, so they benefit from an uninspired South Carolina performance. They can prove they deserve this spot with a big win over Texas A&M Saturday.
7) South Carolina (5): Every time I want to believe in the Gamecocks, they go and lose to Tennessee or look pretty bad against Florida. This team has struggled to get going like a new driver trying to work a stickshift.
8) Vanderbilt (8): Y'all do realize the Commodores might sneak into a Jan. 1 bowl game.....
9) Georgia (9): What a fourth quarter rally by the Bulldogs, and what a disheartening loss. This season has been plagued by injuries for them, but one has to wonder when the 2005 SEC title no longer counts for Mark Richt.
10) Tennessee (11): The Volunteers are quietly going through their season, and they still have a shot at making a bowl game. Is it all that everyone wanted under Butch Jones? Nope, but it is better than it was.
11) Mississippi State (12): The Mississippi State Bulldogs have looked like a much improved team during the last two games, even if they were both losses. Now, everyone will see how they do with the pressure of having to win out to go bowling.
12) Florida (10): It is time to face facts with Florida. This team is not that great. They cannot score. They will win next week, but not against Florida State. They also are going to miss a bowl game.
13) Arkansas (13): The Razorbacks are just playing out the string this season.
14) Kentucky (14): Big Blue football has a way to go.
Five Weekend Thoughts
1) Great weekend for me to choose to sit Ben Roethlisberger. Story of my fantasy football life, but pretty pumped to see the Steelers win a game again.
2) There really is not much that separates the top teams in the SEC from the second tier, but it is one of the toughest lines to break.
3) Seriously ESPN...you start the game on ESPN News because of a minor league race? Really? Also, how do you miss the national anthem before the game. You failed world wide leader.
4) I'm sure glad the Bulldogs got Chris Jones...bet you are too.
5) Supposedly Saturday will be the last Arkansas game in Little Rock. Anyone have fond memories of the place?