Every Monday, we’ll be looking at Saturday superlatives. We’ll recognize the teams and players who stood out before we officially turn the page to next Saturday…but we’ll also recognize the most disappointing units of the entire weekend.
Best game: Alabama at Texas A&M
The Game of the Year certainly lived up to the hype, and the fourth quarter ended with dramatic fashion. If there is another game in 2013 that lives up to this one, I’ll be very surprised. No only was the game so hyped, but it delivered on college football’s biggest stage. CBS had their highest ratings for a day game since 1990. Star players delivered with star performances. Calling it an incredible overall game may not do it justice.
Related: Watch the highlights
Most impressive team: Alabama
Alabama deviated from their ‘SEC mentality’ and went all Big 12 on the Aggies. The Tide won’t face another offense this explosive until, well, not in the SEC. Texas A&M did put up 628 yards of total offense, including 464 through the air, but it’s a credit to the best offense in the country. Nick Saban and Doug Nussmeier basically put the game in AJ McCarron’s hands, and he delivered with four TDs and no turnovers.
Best offense: Texas A&M
No question, Texas A&M’s offense tops the country. That moniker doesn’t live in Eugene, Oregon, anymore. With a wide-open offense led by the country’s most prolific player, it takes the No. 1 team to pull off the win. Six hundred and twenty eight yards of total offense and 42 points against a defense that has allowed 11.75 points the last five seasons is, uh, impressive. The Aggies total offensive mark set an Alabama all-time record.
Best defense: Arkansas
Arkansas QB Brandon Allen left the game in the second quarter, and Bret Bielema put the ball in the hands of his running game and defense. And they both delivered, including the defense that kept Southern Miss out of the end zone. Regardless of the opponent, any time any team keeps an opponent from scoring a TD, it should be celebrated.
Biggest immediate concern: Dan Mullen
Where does MSU go from here? The Bulldogs will only be favored in three games the rest of the way – Troy, Bowling Green and Kentucky. Does Mullen start to feel the pressure by the end of the season? Even if MSU wins those three games and wins a swing game against Arkansas, that’s only five wins, keeping them from bowling. Ole Miss and MSU are heading in completely different directions right now.
Biggest letdown: Tennessee
We knew the Vols would lose to Oregon, but we didn’t know it would be the worst loss in 108 years. The Ducks totaled 687 yards and 59 points. It’s not time to overreact, but it’s a crude example of the reality of where Tennessee’s program is.
Best offensive player(s): Johnny Manziel, AJ McCarron, Mike Evans
You can’t not list all three star players in the country’s biggest game. AJ McCarron played nearly flawlessly, passing for 334 yards and four TDs without turning it over once. Manziel combined for 562 yards and five TDs, and Mike Evans caught seven passes for 279 yards and one TD, averaging a ridiculous 39.9 yards per catch.
Best defensive player: Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas
Chris Smith is playing like we anticipated. He racked up three sacks Saturday against Southern Miss and helped answer the call after QB Brandon Allen got hurt. Smith is tied for the lead in the country averaging 1.5 sacks per game and third with 1.8 TFL per game.
Best freshman: Alex Collins, Arkansas
Arkansas’ prolific freshman, Alex Collins, became the conferece’s first true freshman running back to ever record three 100-yard games to start the season. Collins went for 115 yards and one TD Saturday, giving him an SEC-leading 418 yards. What a fantastic start for the electrifying freshman. Can he keep up his torrid pace?
Biggest non-conference win: Ole Miss at Texas
The SEC won with Ole Miss’ road thumping at Texas that delivered Mack Brown’s knockout. The Rebels had to take care of business, and they did just that. Chalk it up as an SEC win overall, and the Aggies had to be loving the Rebels Saturday night. Oh, and you suck Longhorn Network.
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