In what is turning into a sluggish week at And The Valley Shook, we look at the back half of last week's SEC schedule, once again overlooking the LSU game, about which we have said enough.
Ole Miss 23
Hey, did anyone notice that these teams played? I sure didn't, until I looked at the box score just now. Sure, I noticed that Ole Miss was 4-4, and I noticed that Arkansas was 3-5, but I really did not know how they got there.
This was, by the boxscore, a rather evenly played game. Ole Miss led in 1st downs 21-17, trailed in yards 386-369, and had an equal number of both touchdown passes (2), interceptions (1), and total turnovers (1).
The Ole Miss running attack of Cordera Eason and Dexter McCluster had a nice night, combining for 133 yards on 30 carries. Arkansas's Michael Smith was better, getting 129 yards on 19 carries, but when Arkansas fell behind late, they had to pass a lot more. Taking the ball out of the hands of Michael Smith is rarely a good thing for Arkansas, and it wasn't here. Casey Dick had a nice 7.4 yards-per-attempt average, but it wasn't enough. Arkansas mounted a comeback from 20-7 down, but fell just a little short.
An early missed field goal from about 35 yards may have been the difference. Now, Arkansas faces the difficult task of having to win 3 of its last 4 to qualify for a bowl game. Opponents are Tulsa, South Carolina, Mississippi State, and LSU. It's hard to count two wins out of that group.
Ole Miss has a real shot at bowl eligibility. They have a gimme game against UL-Monroe, and they get Auburn, LSU, and Mississippi State to try to squeeze out one more. They'll be favored in two of those three games. Not only might they be bowl-eligible, but they could easily get to the Peach Bowl (I ain't calling it the Chick-Fil-A Bowl unless they pay me to).
Mississippi State 31
Middle Tennessee State 22
Quick! Rank the college football teams in the state of Tennessee. Not easy to do is it?
But anyway, Mississippi State gets a much needed win, or rather avoids a much-feared loss. MTSU was, in fact, winning this game briefly in the second half, 16-14. Mississippi State reeled off the next 17 points to take a commanding lead, and MTSU added a late touchdown to make the final score more respectable. Yardage-wise, the game was very close. MSU outgained MTSU 366-348.
MSU stuck with Tyson Lee at QB the whole game, and one wonders if we've seen the last of Wesley Carroll as a starter. You should hope so if you're a Bulldogs fan Lee had a nice game, throwing for almost 8 yards per attempt, without an interception. No touchdowns either, but he protected the ball.
The supposedly good Bulldog running game finally did some things as well, as Anthony Dixon rushed for 127 yards and 3 touchdowns.
MSU now sits at 3-5, and it's not inconceivable that they could win 3 of their final 4 to get to a bowl game. "Not inconceivable" is one of those phrases you use when something is rather unlikely. They get Kentucky, Bama, Arkansas, and Ole Miss to end the season. I wouldn't go so far as to predict it, but we're starting to see a trend with all these teams that are sitting with 3 to 5 losses (Vandy, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas): they all seem to play each other down the stretch. Someone has to win those games.
I watched very little of this game, actually, as I was trying to get the baby to go to sleep for most of it. As such, most of you can probably give more intelligent commentary than I could about it. Heck, I should just turn over the blog to Mrs. ATVS as she watched the whole thing. Suffice it to say that I think Tennessee may well have been LSU's best hope at getting some help winning the SEC West. Now, we have to hope that Mississippi State or Auburn can take a chunk out of the Crimson Tide.
Plus, you know, we have to beat them ourselves.