SEC's 5 biggest surprises in Week 3
Eight SEC teams played conference foes in Week 3, and results and statistics from three of those games dominate this week’s surprises. Saturday’s results raise some questions about coaching reputations and fan behavior, while one new SEC quarterback might have flown under the radar.
5. Auburn knew what was coming, and was still manhandled by LSU: Auburn learned the hard way that money doesn’t solve all problems. LSU made it known against Mississippi State that its offense will consist of running the ball as much as possible (47 of 61 plays against the Bulldogs). AU’s new $1.6 million defensive coordinator Will Muschamp had a week to come up with a game plan to contain the run, and his team still allowed more than 400 rushing yards. Paying for a good defensive coordinator doesn’t guarantee a good defense.
4. Greyson Lambert is an NCAA record holder: The transfer of QB Greyson Lambert from Virginia to Georgia for his final year of collegiate eligibility was met with relatively little fanfare or media attention outside of Athens, Ga. Against South Carolina on Saturday, Lambert set the NCAA single-game accuracy record (20 attempted passes minimum) by going 24-for-25, throwing for a career-high 330 yards and three touchdowns. The Bulldogs were expected to rely on the running game this season, but Lambert’s accuracy could help open up the playbook for offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
3. Spurrier is no longer an X factor: A popular secondary narrative leading up to the USC-UGA game was that coaching against the Bulldogs would bring out the best in Spurrier, and lead to the Gamecocks keeping it closer than the 16.5-point spread – if not an outright upset. It turns out the oddsmakers were indeed wrong, but not in South Carolina’s favor, as UGA cruised to a 52-20 win. It’s starting to look like the days of Spurrier being able to do more with less talent are winding down.
2. Alabama defense got worked at home again: In the last two SEC games at Bryant-Denny Stadium (Auburn on Nov. 29, 2014, Ole Miss on Saturday), the Alabama defense has allowed 1,063 yards of offense and 87 points. Some of that can be blamed on the offense’s eight turnovers, but considering that head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart are regarded as two of the best defensive minds in college football, the numbers still stand out.
1. Crimson Tide fans bailed: Even when the defense struggles, it’s still surprising to see Alabama fans lose faith in the offense. When Ole Miss extended its lead to 43-24 with 10:02 remaining in the fourth quarter, ESPN showed Alabama fans heading for the exits. If there’s one thing offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has proven at Alabama, it’s quick-strike capability. The Crimson Tide’s two scores in a span of 5:29 showed that fans gave up a little too soon. Ole Miss did not seal its 43-37 victory until taking over possession with 22 seconds left.