10 things I'm absolutely overreacting to after Week 10
I appreciate defense, big hits and demonically designed corner blitzes as much as anybody.
But that was boring.
You know what else it was? Dangerous. Dangerous to the SEC’s seat at the College Football Playoff table. Boring football is still better than bad football, but Alabama’s victory over LSU is one of 10 things I’m absolutely overreacting to after Week 10 in and around the SEC.
1. SEC can forget about a second playoff team — and might need to worry about one team: Alabama won, but even Nick Saban said it was ugly. If Ole Miss, with lesser and fewer athletes, can score 40 on Alabama in back-to-back years, why can’t LSU score … at all?
I don’t think any other defense in America can do what LSU’s did last night because no other defense in America features as many NFL players as the Tigers’. But people compare. Wisconsin scored more on LSU than Alabama did. So did Jacksonville State.
I’m a huge, huge believer in motivation explaining almost everything (in sports, in life), and LSU might not ever be as motivated as it was Saturday night.
Still, these 10-0 slugfests are not a good look for the SEC. I’d still have Alabama No. 1 in the CFP rankings, but Saturday night gave the Anybody But Alabama crowd some ammunition to bump them down.
Alabama-Auburn will settle everything, but if Alabama loses that, and Auburn somehow loses the SEC title game? Emergency meetings in Birmingham.
2. Speaking of motivation and bad looks for the SEC …: What was that, Kevin Sumlin?
I hate 11:00 a.m. local kickoffs almost as much as the players, but that was an absolute disaster.
Forget (if you can) the impact on Texas A&M. The Aggies’ playoff hopes are done.
The real issue is nobody will view Mississippi State’s upset as a sign of the West’s top-to-bottom strength. That’s how the Big Ten sells and spins its close games and upsets. Everybody’s great! It’s how they fooled you into thinking that undefeated Nebraska was a legitimate playoff threat a couple of weeks ago, just like they fooled you into thinking Iowa was last year.
No, the only narrative here is the Aggies were exposed as a fraud, which then calls into question how quick the committee will be to rank a second SEC team so highly.
In the first two years, two SEC teams that opened in the top 4 in the first rankings fell seven spots in the second ranking. No other league did that. Texas A&M should fall into the mid-teens on Tuesday.
That was unquestionably the worst loss in the Sumlin era.
3. If you don’t think Louisville is one of the four best teams in the country, you are out of your mind: Remember, the same committee that thought A&M deserved to be at No. 4 somehow put the Cardinals three spots lower at No. 7. Put the metrics away, people. Watch the games.
There isn’t a defense on earth built to handle what Lamar Jackson is doing. If you’re an SEC fan, hope you never have to find out, either. Jackson is somehow better than Deshaun Watson, and we all saw what Watson did to the Tide last season.
One more completed pass, and I’d be ready to argue that Louisville is the best team in the country.
4. Jim McElwain, your free pass has expired: I gave him one last year. The Gators were rolling under Will Grier — and still probably would be, mind you. Treon Harris was a slow receiver masquerading as a quarterback. That was never going to work. So most of us looked the other way at the predictable and explainable second-half offensive collapse.
No more. Baylor put a receiver at quarterback and hung 49 points against North Carolina in a bowl game last season. Auburn, LSU have gotten by pretty well without an above average quarterback. Florida? It needed its defense to score its lone touchdown against an Arkansas team that had given up 38 points or more four times this season.
Change the system. Adapt to what you have and find a way. The East has never been more winnable, and the Gators are in serious danger of losing it.
5. Predicting the SEC title game final score: Without crossing your fingers, can you make a logical case that any East team would come with 28 points of Alabama? Is Auburn’s record 39-point blowout of South Carolina in jeopardy? Is any SEC East fan looking forward to watching that game?
I have more questions than the East will have points in Atlanta. That’s why only one East team appeared in the top 7 of the Week 11 SEC Power Rankings.
6. How can a high school senior be one of the 10 best quarterbacks in the SEC? Jake Bentley is listed in the program as a freshman, but that’s only because he skipped his senior year of high school and graduated early. He should be preparing for a state playoff run right now, not leading the Gamecocks to upset wins and toward bowl eligibility.
Bentley is the biggest out-of-nowhere story in the SEC this season.
7. How can a different true freshman be the SEC’s MVP? I wrote Saturday morning that if Jalen Hurts were going to have a freshman moment, it was going to be Saturday night at Death Valley.
What did he do?
You probably don’t remember this, but back in the 2003 World Series, Roger Clemens knocked 20-year-old Miguel Cabrera on his butt with a purposeful high and tight mid-90s fastball. Cabrera got up, dug in and blasted a home run.
That’s what Hurts did Saturday night to the Tigers. The youngest of the many eventual NFL stars who were on the field made the game-winning plays. As boring as that game was, he’s still just as much fun to watch.
8. So Coach O is out? That was the source-driven narrative leading up to the game, that if LSU beat Alabama, Ed Orgeron would get to remove the interim tag. The Tigers gave a spirited effort but lost for the sixth consecutive time to the Tide, so now the search continues.
If so, what a foolish way to make a monumental decision. That’s how LSU got into this situation, by allowing emotions and a single game’s outcome to dictate Les Miles’ fate last season.
It’s as nonsensical as deciding to marry somebody based on whether they like/dislike your signature dish: shrimp and grits.
9. Did Zach Cunningham really do what we just saw him do? There are certain plays that make you jump off the couch. The Clowney hit. Jonathan Allen’s Superman sack. Myles Garrett’s tip-drill interception last year. I’m sure it’s happened, but I can’t remember a better example of a linebacker leaping over a line to block a field goal than the one Cunningham provided against Auburn.
— Grayson Davis (@graycdav) November 5, 2016
He made an impossible play look effortless. The announcer made an astute point as well. That wasn’t merely athleticism. Cunningham figured out the snap count and timed his attack perfectly. Those Vandy guys, man. Brains and brawn.
10. Dang it, Kentucky: One of my hobbies is poking fun at the Big Ten in general, but Indiana in particular. I have so many Hoosier friends, and they’re always quick to point out their NCAA basketball success against North Carolina, the team of my youth.
So I was particularly looking forward to Kentucky — finally — winning that fifth SEC game Saturday and posting its first winning record in conference play since 1977.
Two reasons: One, great for Kentucky and everybody associated with the program. Very, very good people. But secondly, the Power 5 team that would then have the longest consecutive stretch without posting a winning conference record?
Yep. Indiana, which hasn’t been above .500 in the Big Ten since 1993.
Last year when Kentucky was chasing five SEC wins, I mentioned that stat to Andre Ware. I’m not sure who laughed harder or longer at the prospect of hanging that dubious distinction on the Hoosiers.
Fortunately, if the Wildcats can’t upset Tennessee on Saturday, there’s always next year.
The Hoosiers are 3-3, but I’m not overly concerned. I’ve seen this movie, too. They face Penn State and Michigan and before closing with their annual Battle of the Beatens against Purdue.
Chris Wright is Executive Editor at SaturdayDownSouth.com. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @FilmRoomEditor.