10 things I'm absolutely overreacting to after Week 8 in the SEC
Alabama is the best team in the country. But the Tide might not have been the best team in their own state Saturday. Auburn flat out went to work, and the Big Ten showed why it’ll always be the Big Ten. Here are 10 things I’m absolutely overreacting to after a wild Week 8 in and around the SEC.
1. War Damn Eagle: The Gus Bus added a turbo Saturday. Maybe two. Pick a number, it doesn’t matter. Auburn’s manhandling of Arkansas was historic. The Tigers registered their most lopsided victory over a ranked opponent and ran for 543 yards — the most Arkansas has ever allowed.
I didn’t see this coming. I know Bret Bielema didn’t see this coming. Saturday morning I wondered whether Auburn was legit. Question answered.
The Iron Bowl, always interesting, just got a lot more so.
2. Jalen Hurts is a spectacularly quiet stat-stuffer: If Hurts were less effective, critics no doubt would question his demeanor, his lack of emotion. He’s the anti-Tebow. There will be no promises, no fiery fist pumps. All Hurts does is win — and make winning plays.
It’s easy to find splashier players — Louisville’s Lamar Jackson seemingly has three Heisman moments a game — but you won’t find many with more poise under duress.
My favorite play Saturday? Hurts was over 100 yards rushing — a milestone, to be sure — but he knew he needed to stay in bounds and take a sack late to keep the clock going. Throwing it away would have helped his stat line — the loss pushed him under 100 — but he put the team’s needs first.
3. Jonathan Allen is unblockable: Need proof?
I think this is my favorite play of the year so far: https://t.co/q6VUJu5WX7
— Saturday Down South (@SDS) October 22, 2016
Because it’s Alabama, and Alabama spreads the defensive love like nobody else in the country, Allen tends to get overlooked. Tim Williams is the sack artist. Eddie Jackson is the pickoff artist. Reuben Foster destroys people. Allen? He entered the game with a quiet 5.0 sacks, which was .5 more than Williams, but nobody outside of Alabama’s coaching offices could have told you that.
He did it all Saturday, including adding a nifty and nimble scoop-and-score.
4. Leonard Fournette is going to hurt somebody: Fournette ran like caged Tiger on Saturday night. He reminded us — again — why so many compare him to Herschel Walker, including the legend himself.
This play is exactly why I’ve been screaming for the past 18 games to get the man involved in the screen game. There isn’t a DB in the land built to handle any of what Fournette is delivering.
— Belle Es You (@SouthernbeLLSU) October 23, 2016
5. The SEC West put on a show Saturday: If you watched the West’s six ranked teams play each other and even glanced occasionally at Ohio State’s loss or Wisconsin and Nebraska’s uninspiring victories and still think the Big Ten is the better league, seek help immediately.
Better yet, go watch soccer.
I was laughing so hard at the Buckeyes’ loss that I almost missed my deadline. Not that it will matter in the playoff race. Every game matters — except the unexplainable ones Ohio State loses. (See: Virginia Tech, 2014).
The closest thing to the SEC West is the ACC Atlantic. Louisville is no joke and a serious threat to join Clemson in the playoff.
6. Speaking of Wisconsin …: Are we done pretending the Badgers are a playoff contender?
Kirk Herbstreit and Joey Galloway both just said on ESPN that they think Wisconsin can/will get into the playoff if they win out.
— Badger Sports Talk (@BadgerSports1) October 19, 2016
Granted, that huge “if they win out” would include winning the Big Ten championship, but the chance of that happening is about as good as the odds of the East winning the SEC title in Atlanta.
The Badgers are offensively challenged even by modest Big Ten standards.
7. This was the greatest play-call of all time: Or not.
This is the worst fake punt of all time. End of discussion. pic.twitter.com/oa6exx8RBB
— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) October 21, 2016
In fairness, I’ve seen this play work. Generally, it’s been in the 8- and 9-year-old games on Saturday mornings, but there is precedent.
The decision was horrific, but the entertainment value was so high I watched the clip probably 30 times during the South Carolina-UMass game.
8. We need more targeting ejections, not fewer: This was ruled targeting.
Damien Harris got simultaneously stiff-armed *and* targeted at the end of that INT. pic.twitter.com/l7N8wioAM9
— Matt Hinton (@MattRHinton) October 22, 2016
This was not.
This is why Speedy Noil is no longer in the game. Geez. pic.twitter.com/JYSTyxen7e
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) October 22, 2016
You can debate all day whether one, both or neither should have been called. There is no debate that both hits were extremely dangerous.
If a runner ducks and is hit in the helmet, that’s one thing. But these defenders went in high. Both should have been ejected. We’re worrying too much about letter of the law and whether a player was defenseless. The rule exists for player safety, and any hit to the head jeopardizes player safety.
Mack Wilson, who crushed Speedy Noil, weighs 244 pounds. Noil is lucky he got up.
I’ve long since lobbied for a rule prohibiting anybody weighing more than 210 pounds from participating on either kickoff team. Kickoffs are too exciting to abandon, but they’re also the most dangerous play in the game. You just can’t let a guy with Wilson’s size and speed have a 40-yard running start at somebody.
9. SEC East! SEC East! Just when it looked like this wasn’t the East’s year (decade?), Austin MacGinnis split the uprights from 51 yards as time expired to give Kentucky a dramatic 40-38 victory over Mississippi State.
It was the East’s first victory over the West this season.
Let’s not completely overreact, however. The East has a couple more opportunities, though those looked a lot better before LSU and Auburn found their stride.
10. Rip off the interim tag, already! The whole point of having Leonard Fournette is realizing you don’t have to give it to him 40 times a game. When healthy, he’s not only the best running back in America, he’s one heck of a decoy, too.
LSU’s offense is noticeably more explosive in the three games under Ed Orgeron. It’s exactly what we thought it had the potential to become, back in July, when the Tigers were talking tweaks and some of us were penciling them in as an SEC West favorite.
I spent all day Saturday waiting for 3:30 p.m. to roll around. Now, I’d like to fast-forward to Nov. 5, when the Tigers and Tide tangle in Death Valley.
Chris Wright is Executive Editor at SaturdayDownSouth.com. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @FilmRoomEditor.