The Good: Anyone who thought Arkansas would be a pushover really did not understand the Razorbacks. The team plays solid defense and has a solid running game, so they are always a threat to spring an upset. They nearly knocked off Texas A&M and Alabama this year. You can add Mississippi State to that list.
The Bulldogs got punched in the mouth Saturday. They tasted their own blood, and much like Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania VII, they responded. The Razorbacks drew first blood, and they held the lead at the half. The Bulldogs cleaned up their act in the second half and made just enough plays to pull out a victory.
Mississippi State will get tested again in two weeks in Tuscaloosa. Here's hoping this win goes a long way in helping them know they can answer the bell yet again.
I've got to tip the hat a bit to Fred Ross. He has absolutely stepped up his play the last few weeks, and it seems like if a ball is anywhere near where he can get a hand on it, he makes it happen. How about another tip of the hat to Josh Robinson? Arkansas slowed him down on the ground, so he made them pay as a receiver. He finished the night with 25 touches and 174 yards. That is not shabby.
Dak Prescott did not have his best game, but his 331 yards marked the first time Dan Mullen had a quarterback go over 300 yards at Mississippi State. The two picks were not pretty, but escaping the clutches of a defender and finding Ross was nice.
There is not enough to say about the defense. They were put in tough spots in the first half, and really mitigated the damage Arkansas could have caused. They might let teams move a bit down the field, but once they get inside the 20, they look amazing.
The Bad: I have a hard time believing the injury that had Dak Prescott in a precautionary boot after the Kentucky game is not impacting his play. There were times he looked unable to step completely into his passes, and his two interceptions were just bowling shoe ugly. If that injury is more serious than previously let on, here's hoping he is allowed to heal up and rest, even if it comes at the expense of Heisman-numbers against UT-Martin. I have no doubt he plays against the Skyhawks. I hope it is only for a half tops.
The Ugly: The Mississippi State special teams made some good plays (looking at you Evan Sobiesk), but Jamoral Graham's muffed punt was almost disastrous. I get having Graham back there because of his freakish abilities, but he has proven to be a liability on punt returns. I would wager a serious guess that his confidence is completely shot in that role right now.
I was glad to see Fred Ross end up back there and handle the duties well.
SEC Award Time: Full disclosure... I was on the road most of the day, and saw very little action...
Offensive Player of the Week: Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn: Marshall led the Tigers to a tough road victory against Ole Miss by picking up over 300 total yards and scoring four touchdowns
Defensive Player of the Week: Shane Ray, Missouri: The junior picked up two sacks, including a game ender to set the single season record (12) for the Tigers.
SEC Power Poll:
1. Mississippi State (1): The Bulldogs still stand as the only unbeaten team in the SEC. Their next real test will come in Tuscaloosa on November 15.
2. Alabama (2): The Crimson Tide enjoyed a bye week before they head to Baton Rouge next weekend. Mississippi State and Auburn fans will all watch this one as it could really have a huge impact on the SEC West race.
3. Auburn (4): The Tigers found another way to pick up a win when they seemed completely out of it. Anyone who is ready to count this team out of the SEC hut does so at their own risk.
4. Ole Miss (3): First off, all thoughts and prayers with Laquon Treadwell as he recovers from that gruesome injury. It is awful watching a kid suffer something like that. The Rebels pretty much saw their hopes of being a participant in the national playoffs dashed last night, but they can still wreck some seasons.
5. LSU (6): The Tigers almost went up to the No. 4 spot in this poll. They will have a chance to really move up this list a bit with a win Saturday.
6. Arkansas (9): One has to feel for this team and their fans. They have been so close in so many games this year, but have not been able to pick up a win. One is coming, and they will not look back once they get it.
7. Georgia (5): The Bulldogs managed to pick up their inexplicable loss of the year Saturday by not being able to handle Florida. It is hard to believe how often something like this happens to them.
8. Missouri (7): This is where it feels like throwing darts. The Tigers got the win at home against Kentucky, and now control their destiny in the SEC East.
9. Kentucky (8): The Wildcats could not make it happen on the road, but they are still among the top teams in the SEC East.
10. Florida (11): The Gators did a great job running the football early and often against the Bulldogs, and who knows, if they can pull of a similar upset the last weekend of the season, Muschamp might get to stick around.
11. Tennessee (13): Saturday was a huge day for the Volunteers and Butch Jones. They avoided going winless in the SEC.
12. Texas A&M (10): The Aggies look quite young and inexperienced. Their quarterback managed to get suspended. They don't play defense. They are just not a super good team this year, and they are not very consistent.
13. South Carolina (12): Saturday showed just how much the season has gone of the rails for this team. They are rebuilding, and it sounds like the OBC is ready to hit the links somewhere.
14. Vanderbilt: (14) They picked up the win Saturday....of course, they should have.
Thoughts on the Weekend:
1. It will be interesting to see how fluid the playoff committee is in its rankings Tuesday. Will the Bulldogs and Florida State swap spots? Who will take Ole Miss's spot in the polls? This will give us another opportunity to learn a bit about their process.
2. Another great effort from the Mississippi State fans at the game Saturday night. It was cold, the team was not playing well, but the fans brought it. Now, if everyone could just remain calm about the traffic. There is no quick fix as the infrastructure is not set quickly remove that many people. It's ok, just listen to the Bulldog Sports Radio post game while waiting.
3. I really enjoyed seeing Shorty McWilliams go into the Ring of Honor. It is great to see someone from the past get the recognition, and given his status as a veteran, it was even more fitting yesterday as the school recognized so many who have served. MSU did a wonderful job with everything in that area yesterday, especially the National Anthem. Hearing that many people sing it absolutely sent chills down my spine.
4. In a similar vein, is there anything at Davis Wade marking Mississippi State's SEC championship and SEC West championship? If there is not, there really should be.