10 things I'm absolutely overreacting to after Week 4 in the SEC
Welp, don’t tell Aggies fans, but that’s probably going to hurt Texas A&M’s Playoff chances.
Shot fired? Not exactly. I said in the preseason Texas A&M was the most overrated team in the top 10 and have repeated that since.
Saturday was just confirmation day for everybody else.
It was confirmation day for a few other things, too.
Those are just a few of the 10 things I’m absolutely overreacting to after Week 4 in and around the SEC.
10. Bo knows … it’s TJ Finley’s time now
Bo Nix was the 3rd-best QB in a game against Georgia … State.
It’s time. It’s past time, actually.
Almost every week, Nix has repeated the errors of the previous week. The most frustrating part of his story is that when Nix decides to set his feet, he delivers a nice, accurate ball. But for whatever reason, he’s hellbent on making half of his throws on the run. That leads to incompletions, stalled drives, punts or field goals. And those are the positive results.
I wondered all offseason how long Bryan Harsin would wait before pulling the plug and turning to TJ Finley.
He made a bold switch at halftime. (Bold only in the sense that Nix is a legacy QB, not a legendary QB.)
Finley wasn’t great, but he was plenty good enough. More important, his team immediately rallied around him, just as the crowd did.
It was ironic that he won Saturday’s game with a scramble throw that screamed Nix. Well, except Finley completed it.
Some will label this a QB controversy. It absolutely is not. There is no controversy. Nix has been given every single opportunity to show he’s the guy. More often than not, he just reaffirmed he was not.
The Bo Nix era ended Saturday. Or at least it should have.
It’s time to turn this over to Finley, give him the keys, the reps, the responsibility.
Just in time to face the team that didn’t quite believe in him enough: LSU.
9. RIP to the Air Raid offense
Mike Leach’s system might work wonders in a lot of leagues. It’s not working in the SEC — and it’s not going to, either.
SEC defenses are filled with NFL prospects, at all 3 levels. Schemes exploit mismatches, but SEC defenses have seen the scheme. Now, the athletes are winning.
Don’t think so?
Leach has coached 11 SEC games. His offense has been held to 2 or fewer TDs in 5 of those games — and almost a 6th time in Saturday’s loss against the team he destroyed in his SEC debut.
The SEC already has adjusted. If Leach doesn’t adjust and rely more on his run game, which helped the Bulldogs get back in the game Saturday against LSU, his tenure won’t last long.
8. RIP to Texas A&M’s Playoff hopes, too
I never thought the top-10, Playoff talk was realistic, but plenty of other people did.
This isn’t solely a QB issue, either. Haynes King clearly is better than Zach Calzada — that’s why he won the starting job — but the Aggies have issues far beyond the health of their QB.
The o-line continues to struggle with execution and health. Those are probably inversely related, but it doesn’t change the fact that this offense hasn’t had time or the holes to be as explosive as we were told it was going to be.
7. 7 quirky questions that popped into my head Saturday
- Does Penn State still think its narrow escape at home against Auburn counts as an impressive victory?
- Does Bryan Harsin have Will Muschamp’s number? I’m assuming Boom still has an Auburn area code … fond memories and all.
- Does Tim Corbin have any arms in the bullpen that Clark Lea can borrow for a few months?
- Who is the all-time QB in the Tagovailoa family backyard games? Taulia showed again Saturday why he is the best QB in the B1G.
- If Jimbo Fisher is worth $90 million, what in the world is Sam Pittman worth?
- Hey, Finley’s game-winning TD throw on 4th down truly was a spectacular/clutch play. But isn’t it a little weird for Auburn fans to be that excited about rallying to beat Georgia State?
- Is it even weirder that a Power 5 fan base would rush the field after beating Mizzou?
6. Vanderbilt needs to copy Notre Dame and go independent in football
Saturday was merely the latest embarrassment. We all know the academic/history/facilities obstacles, and we all know that there’s no way Vandy can overcome those obstacles and legitimately compete for an SEC East title.
Their ceiling is 4th place in the East. Even the back-to-back years that Vandy won a program-record 9 games in 2012 and 2013, the ‘Dores went 5-3 and 4-4 in the SEC.
That’s as good as it gets, and it’s almost never anywhere close to that good.
It’s wholly unlikely and costly and probably a million other “why it won’t happen” things, but Vanderbilt would be much better served copying Notre Dame’s relationship with the ACC and being in the SEC in every sport except football.
5. 5 recent Playoff teams that have lost to an unranked team
In honor of upset-proof Alabama winning its 100th consecutive game against unranked teams, a nice reminder about reality for the rest of college football’s elite. The following teams all made the Playoff at least once in the past 4 years — and all have lost at least 1 game to an unranked team since then.
1. Clemson: Lost to NC State in Week 4 in 2021.
2. Oklahoma: In 2020, the Sooners lost 2 games to unranked teams.
3. Ohio State: In 2018, a shocking loss to Purdue ultimately knocked the Buckeyes out of the Playoff race.
4. Georgia: In 2019, the Dawgs were 5-0, ranked No. 3 and lost to South Carolina.
5. LSU: Forget 2020: The Tigers opened 2021 with a loss to then-unranked UCLA.
4. The 4 Playoff teams are …
1. Alabama, 2. Georgia, 3. Oregon, 4. Cincinnati
Penn State is the best team in the B1G. Unless Ohio State is. Unless this finally is the year that Michigan can beat Ohio State. One of these B1G East teams ultimately will make the Playoff — probably at Cincinnati’s expense.
3. Ranking the 3 best QBs among the top-10 teams
First, the caveats:
A. There isn’t a single QB in 2021 who is better than any of the title-winning QBs in the past 5 years (Deshaun Watson, Jalen Hurts, Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow, Mac Jones).
B. We’re using the term “best” loosely. Just finding 3 QBs capable of actually winning a national title game in 2021 is a challenge. Honestly, I’d rather have Ole Miss’ Matt Corral than any of the 3 I’m about to pick.
C. This is based on last week’s top 10, not the rearranged one we’ll get later Sunday (which will include Florida and maybe Ole Miss). As for the list:
- 1. JT Daniels: He’s the one QB who might actually be able to win a game with his arm.
- 2. Bryce Young: Put Young on just about any other team and the results aren’t nearly as pretty. Jameson Williams (oh, my!) is Alabama’s best player.
- 3. Spencer Rattler: Regardless of what you’ve read about Rattler, he’s the 4th-best QB Lincoln Riley has had in the past 5 years.
2. A startling stat about LSU’s running game …
We are 4 games into the season, and the Tigers still don’t have a single 30-yard run.
It’s not a fluke. The o-line has been dinged up, yes, but the running game lacks a home-run hitter. That’s the biggest reason they’re being held to about 3 yards per carry.
1. Over/under on Alabama-Ole Miss?
Whatever it is, I’m taking the over.
And praying to the football Gods that they give us a respite from the throwback, 20-17 snoozefests we’ve had to endure far too often in 2021.
Nobody misses 2020 — but I miss point totals that chase 100 and quarterbacks who can only be stopped by the clock.
Let’s hope Alabama and Ole Miss can turn back the clock next week.
Heck, let’s hope Jameson Williams has another game like Saturday, and then we can start talking about Alabama wide receivers/returners winning back-to-back Heismans.