In this edition of Around the SEC, we keep up with the continuing saga of Vandy Football 2008, and I give my truly, finally, last thoughts on the Auburn game.
Ole Miss 17
I stand by my statements that Ole Miss is a solid team. You just can't predict that a team will commit 6 turnovers, including a fumble while heading into the end zone for a late touchdown (see above). Of course, the same thing happened to South Carolina against Georgia last week, and when you're a team as good as Ole Miss (which is to say, "not really all that good") you can't recover from those kinds of mistakes.
Vandy again played unspectacular football, netting only 202 yards of offense while being outgained by 183 yards. Their leading rusher averaged a mere 4.2 yards per carry, and the two quarterbacks averaged less than 6 yards per pass attempt, while attempting only 12 passes. They needed a defensive touchdown just to keep this game close in the first half.
You can't really point to anything other than the turnovers. If you don't look at the turnovers, Ole Miss thoroughly outplayed Vandy in this one. Then again, that's why turnovers are so important. A team can dominate 112 of the 118 plays in a game, but if they give the ball away in the other 6, they're going to have a very hard time winning.
I'm not sure there aren't 25 teams in the NCAA that are better and more talented than Vandy, but at some point you have to stop looking at things like Total Offense and Passing Yards and start just looking at the fact that a team keeps finding a way to win. A win is a win, even if you look ugly and even incompetent winning it.
Incidentally, there is a new Vandy blog on SBNation. Check it out.
Next Week: Ole Miss @ Florida; Vandy is off.
South Carolina 23
Wofford actually took the lead in the second quarter, and South Carolina did not pull away in this game until they scored a touchdown with under 2 minutes to go. The team that gave Georgia a scare put up some yards (376, to be precise), but couldn't finish drives and couldn't hold onto the ball when it counted, committing 3 turnovers.
I think USC played the best game they can play against Georgia, and they're just not that good of a team. They look weak on offense, and no team can win consistently only with defense.
Next Week: UAB @ South Carolina.
OK, so those weren't really my last thoughts on this game. This is my chance to make some smaller points. First, Auburn's offense, for the first time, actually looked pretty good passing the ball. I don't think that was a fluke. The passing game actually was productive, and Chris Todd played pretty well.
Second, I want to call attention to Jai Eugene's play in this game. Can anyone single out a play in which Auburn was able to complete a pass with Eugene defending? I only saw one time where they even tried, and Eugene made the play to break it up. He must have been blanketing whoever he was covering because he was absolutely invisible in pass defense, which is a good thing for a corner to be.
Then, of course, he had the recovery of the onside kick. Too bad we didn't go anywhere with it, but we were able to use that to pin Auburn back for the next possession.
Great win. I think Kenny483 might be right that this could be the biggest win of the Les Miles era. There are some big ones competing with it for that distinction. The 2005 Peach Bowl over Miami. The 2006 road win over Tennessee. The 2007 wins over Auburn and Florida. The 2007 BCSNCG. But this one is right up there. Of course, if we don't finish out the season, this win will lose some shine, but for right now it's a great one.
Next Week: MSU @ LSU; Tennessee @ Auburn
Arizona State 10
The epic intersectional showdown that wasn't. This game was over at halftime. The triumvirate of Knowshon Moreno, Matthew Stafford, and freshman receiver A.J. Green was too much for the Sun Devils.
I never got around to saying that I thought Georgia might have problems with the heat in this game. I remember when LSU went to Tempe. We're used to hot, but this was a different kind of hot. It was a dry, baking hot. We're used to a wet, boiling hot. We had dehydration and cramping problems all game, and needed a miracle finish to pull the game out.
That was then; this is now. Georgia destroyed Arizona State. I didn't watch any of this one, so there's only so much I can say. It's not a conference game, so it's not even really that important. But Georgia served notice that they're still a national contender, despite their drop in the polls.
Next week: Bama @ Georgia