Well, folks, I'm not sure if anything would have cured the ills of the Bulldogs after losing to Alabama better than the 51-0 beat down of Vanderbilt Saturday night. The offense clicked, the defense looked good, and the fans really got into the game.
The Good: When you pick up a 51-0 win in SEC play, quite a few things are going to fall into the good category. How about starting with a tip o' the hat to the coaching staff. This team showed no signs of a letdown after losing to Alabama. In fact, there was a bit of confidence, dare I say swagger, to the team and Dan Mullen as they got ready to run out onto the field. That was good thing to see.
Defensively, one could write a book about all of the things the defense did well. In pass coverage, the defenders broke up passes and picked a few of them off. The Commodore quarterbacks ended up completing less than 50% of their passes on the night, and the front seven kept the heat in the kitchen turned up. The defense completely stymied the Commodores on the ground, holding them to just 1.9 yards per carry. That is solid against anyone.
Individually, I thought Turtle Holmes had a great game, and the strip and score was perfectly executed. Dak Prescott looked very sharp with his passes. Anyone and everyone who ran the ball for Mississippi State did a great job. However, the best individual performance has to go to Joe Morrow.
The Ocean Springs product had the big game everyone has wanted to see. His first touchdown was thing of beauty, catching the ball and breaking through the defense. He made great Gumby-like catches during the night as well. This was easily his best game as a Bulldog.
Off the field, great job by the fans keeping the place loud even when the game was no longer in doubt. Knowing I had a long drive ahead of me, I started considering leaving early (a shame, yes I know), but my son would have none of it. He wanted to stay for Don't Stop Believin', and I am glad I listened to him. That was amazingly done by the fans.
Also off the field, kudos to so many of the players who run down the line after game giving high-fives to the kids. Seeing those little faces light up is just the best, and the little kids love it too. Honestly, it is fun to see that the players don't act like it is chore to do that, but that they seem to enjoy the interaction. It means a ton to the kids, fellas.
Look, practically everyone had a good night. Even the punt/pass/kick kid split the uprights for free pizza.
The Bad: The punting game has to get cleaned up before traveling to Oxford. I'm not sure what is going on, but Devon Bell has gone from solid to shaky. The Bulldogs do not need to give the Rebels anything in the contest, and a shanked punt does not need to happen.
The Ugly: #SECRefFever I'm not one to harp on officials, but goodness, the guys in the Survivor Series main event had a better go of it this weekend. Phantom calls, late calls, calls made by guys in Ackerman, they all happened Saturday. Props to Dan Mullen for reaching a threshold and unleashing. It got the crowd and his team fired back up for a game that was already in hand at that point.
SEC Power Poll:
1. Alabama: The Crimson Tide went through a practice game before taking on Auburn Saturday. Yes, they do have a few weak spots, but this team is awfully good, and they could be just a few wins from a national championship.
2. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs did not appear to suffer any ill effects from losing to Alabama, and the dominant win over Vanderbilt keeps the Bulldogs looking extremely strong. A five-point loss to the No. 1 team in the country is their only blemish. Not too shabby, folks.
3. Georgia: The Bulldogs just keep moving along with no one talking about them. They dug an early hole, and should be kicking themselves for it. However, if they get some help in the form of a Missouri loss, they could backdoor themselves all the way into the playoffs.
4. Missouri: Does it bother anyone else that the team most likely to win the SEC East lost to Indiana?
5. Auburn: We have seen this year what happens when a team does not have a horseshoe completely wedged up their rear, but only part of the way. Auburn of 2014 is Auburn 2013 without getting all the breaks. This team has still had more than their fair share this year (Kansas State, Ole Miss), but they are not getting all of them this time.
6. Arkansas: Everyone that has already played the Razorbacks is glad they have, because this has been a team that has it figured out the last two weeks. As if the SEC West could not become more difficult....
7. Ole Miss: The Rebels suffered their third loss of the year in humiliating fashion in Fayetteville. This team looked like it had its heart ripped out when LaQuon Treadwell went down, and one could hardly blame them. They will have to get it back together Saturday if they want to win.
8. LSU: The Tigers looked like they were turning the corner, and then they didn't. 2014 is not the year to judge that team, wait until next year.
9. Texas A&M: The Aggies opened the season with so much promise, and now they are just sort of there. I just want them to play someone like Baylor in a bowl game. First to 100 wins.
10. South Carolina: This has been a painful year in Columbia, but the Gamecocks are bowl eligible yet again.
11. Florida: We all know that Will Muschamp is gone, a good but defeated man. This game with Florida State plays out like Gladiator. The hero is mortally wounded, but can still take down the evil emperor. Please let this happen Saturday.
12. Tennessee: What an ugly ending to a football game Saturday. #SECRefFever. Still, Butch Jones and company have Tennessee back in a bowl game with a win Saturday. That is huge for them and the program.
13. Kentucky: Everything seemed to be on track for the Wildcats to have that break out season early this year. Without a doubt, they are much improved, and if they beat Tennessee, it will have been a great year in Lexington.
14. Vanderbilt: If Cornelius cared about football, he might be asking for a refund.
Five Thoughts from the Weekend:
1. The SEC is going to have 12 bowl eligible teams. That is hard to believe. The SEC West is completely bowl eligible which has never happened before. When people scream SEC-Bias, just remind them of all of that.
2. I know not many wrestling fans swing by here, but how awesome was it to see Sting show up at Survivor Series Sunday night. Too bad it was ten years too late. Imagine a Sting-HBK feud....
3. While football got the lion's share of the attention this weekend, how about a round of applause for both basketball programs so far. The men got their biggest non-conference win under Rick Ray, and the ladies picked up the preseason WNIT title. Vic Schaefer looks like he is working on making a powerhouse team there.
4. We are coming up on what is one of the best weeks in college football. There is nothing quite like the rivalries that go on in the college ranks, and it will make for a fun weekend of football.
5. Should the Bulldogs take care of business Saturday afternoon, we will all be doing some scoreboard watching in the Iron Bowl. Just a thought, but how awesome would it be to have that on at Davis Wade Stadium and let the first 60,000 or so fans in to watch it there. I'm pretty sure concessions could be sold, and make a little money there.
6. Have a great Thanksgiving Week folks.