On a related side note, to all my loyal readers, I apologize for not getting this article up here sooner. I walked into a, ahem, *stuff*show when I came into work this morning and didn’t have the opportunity to sit down to my computer here in the office until right now.
But enough about my troubles, on with Week 3!
My sub-headline for this write-up is, in my opinion, on the nose. Out of the whole list of games on the schedule, half of them are an SEC opponent against a “puppy-dog” team. Not just an underdog, but yes, a “puppy” of a dog team. I know what I typed. Now, I know what you, the loyal reader, are thinking, “What about last week with Appalachian State and Texas A&M?” And I’m with you on that one. However, I’m sure everyone outside of Boone, North Carolina expected the Aggies to win that game. Either way, the SEC is going to feast on some cupcakes with teams like Youngstown State, Abilene Christian and Akron all on the slate of games this week.
And speaking of those Texas A&M Aggies, let’s start with their primetime matchup where the number 24 ranked Aggies host the number 13 ranked Miami Hurricanes. This would have possibly been the site of ESPN College Football Gameday if the Aggies hadn’t fallen flat against Appalachian State. Either way, this is the only matchup of two ranked teams in the entire list of SEC games. The Hurricanes, led by first year head coach (and former player at The “U”) Mario Cristobal, are hoping to continue their strong start and improve to 3 and 0 for the new season. The Aggies will attempt to bounce back and get back on their winning ways. Miami’s high-powered offense is led by sophomores quarterback Tyler Van Dyke and running back Henry Parrish, Jr. Van Dyke, which some have listed as a potential first round draft pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, has completed 73.3 percent of his passes for 454 yards and three touchdowns. Parrish has 217 yards on the ground to go with four touchdowns. The Aggies will have to shut down both Van Dyke and Parrish if they hope to win this game. The Aggies will have the home field advantage in this one, but honestly, I don’t think that’s enough. Texas A&M’s offense was held in check last week against App State. And Miami ain’t App State. I think the Hurricanes will handle business in College Station this evening and the seat Jimbo Fisher is sitting on might get a tad bit toasty…
With that, let’s go from Aggieland to the Plains of Auburn, where the number 22 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions take on the Auburn Tigers. Penn State is a three and a half point favorite, even with the game in Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Nittany Lions are attempting to get their second win on the road over a Power Five team after winning their season opener against Purdue. The Tigers are looking to continue their winning ways after dropping five straight to end last season. A win over Penn State might help convince the skeptics that Auburn has actually improved from last year. Statistically, this is an odd matchup as Auburn has one of the worst passing offenses in the NCAA and Penn State has difficulty stopping the pass. The Tigers have been alternating at the quarterback position between LSU transfer T.J. Finley and Robby Ashford. Unfortunately, they are just averaging 190 yards through the air, ranking them 103rd nationally. The Nittany Lions rank 100th in the nation in stopping the pass, giving up an average of 264.5 yards per game through the air. However, the one bright spot to watch in this matchup is Penn State’s freshman running back Nicholas Singleton. Singleton had the best debut of all running backs in Beaver Stadium last week, rushing for 179 yards on ten carries with two touchdowns (including on of seventy yards!). When you think of all the great running backs that have come out of Penn State like Franco Harris, John Cappelletti and even Saquon Barkley, Singleton’s debut was the best. That’s saying something. I think Singleton and the “Nifty” Lions get it done today…
Last but not least, let’s swing into Death Valley where the LSU Tigers are hosting the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Random trivia, the first LSU game I went to as kid was LSU versus Mississippi State … back in 1992. Yes, the Curly Hallman era. Who here remembers these dark days? Funnily enough, LSU beat the 18th ranked Bulldogs, 24-3, that night. Which was one of LSU’s two wins ALL SEASON. *shudder* Anywho, let’s talk about tonight’s game. It’s the SEC opener for both teams. Mississippi State is hoping for a big win in Tiger Stadium tonight to climb into the AP Top 25 and get some revenge for LSU’s 27-24 victory in Starkville last year. The Bulldogs’ gun-slinging signal caller Will Rogers will be throwing the ball all over the place with Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense, as he has completed nearly 79 percent of his passes for 763 yards and nine touchdowns. The Tigers will have to get some sort of pass rush going with defensive ends B.J. Ojulari and Ali Gaye to hopefully slow down the State passing attack. Offensively, LSU has to hope that quarterback Jayden Daniels continues to be the playmaker he has been for the last two games. Daniels has completed 35 of 45 passes for 346 yards and five touchdowns along with 132 yards rushing and an additional score. The Tigers will need Daniels and the whole offense to be on point if they hope to have a chance to keep up with the Bulldogs. If LSU can keep the game close, they have a chance to win. Will they? As a fan of the Purple and Gold, I want to say yes, but my Magic 8 Ball says, “Don’t count on it”. We’ll see…
Looking at the other games around the SEC for Week 3:
#1 Georgia @ South Carolina
Youngstown State @ #9 Kentucky
Abilene Christian @ Missouri
#20 Ole Miss @ Georgia Tech
Vanderbilt @ Northern Illinois
UL Monroe @ #2 Alabama
Missouri State @ #10 Arkansas
Akron @ #15 Tennessee
South Florida @ #18 Florida
Again, hopefully the Tigers can keep up with the Mississippi State passing attack. Because if they can’t, it’ll be a long night under the lights of Death Valley tonight.