The nation’s eyes will be on the SEC this weekend. There are only three matchups between Top 25 teams,  and they’re all in the West.

First up Saturday, No. 1 Alabama plays host to No. 6 Texas A&M. Next, No. 17 Arkansas visits No. 21 Auburn. And then in the nightcap, No. 23 Ole Miss travels to No. 25 LSU. Six ranked teams from the same division face each other.

As a result, most of the conversation in the comments section this week revolved around the West — and rightfully so. Tennessee just got thrashed by the Crimson Tide at Neyland Stadium, so the East is now 0-7 this season in crossover play. It appears that the chasm between the conference’s two divisions is as wide as ever.

With Florida and Georgia both enjoying a bye ahead of next weekend’s Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, there’s even less to talk about in the East this week. Only so many column inches can be assigned to Vanderbilt.

Here are some of the my favorite comments from this past week. It might be time to start asking for urine samples on Rocky Top.


Sorry, but Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs is not a third- or fourth-stringer. I’m pretty sure he was 100 percent, too.

Absolutely, the Volunteers have been snake-bitten when it comes to injuries this season. It’s not just how many injuries they’ve endured, but an awful lot of their best players have been affected. Few teams can recover from that.

Nevertheless, if you’ve convinced yourself that the only difference between UT and Alabama is the length of the injury report, then you need to take off the orange-tinted glasses. Offense, defense, special teams — the Crimson Tide are superior in every phase of the game. In case you forgot, the Vols lost by 39 … at home.

Even if Tennessee was healthy in the linebacking corps, ‘Bama quarterback Jalen Hurts still would have run circles around them. A less broken-down offensive line wouldn’t have held that pass rush at bay, either.

You’re right about one thing: If these two meet again, it will be a different outcome. Maybe the Tide win by 28.


The difference is that Alabama is also having success offensively. Florida continues to have problems scoring points conventionally.

When the Crimson Tide are returning interceptions, fumbles and points for touchdowns, they’re simply augmenting Hurts and Co. ‘Bama has the No. 2 offense in the SEC despite playing a difficult schedule to this point.

The Gators, on the other hand, are seventh in the conference in total offense. Their strength of schedule so far has been a joke, too. Throw out Tennessee, and UF’s opponents are a combined 12-20 — not one is anywhere near the AP Poll. Be it Luke Del Rio or Austin Appleby, quarterback continues to be a problem.

Before those two defensive TDs, the orange and blue were locked in a 6-0 taffy pull with a bad Mizzou team close to halftime.


Orgeron has certainly been a breath of fresh air. As a native of the Pelican State, he understands LSU’s unique culture more than most.

Nevertheless, I don’t give him much of a chance to take the word “interim” off his business card. Some guys are meant to be sergeants, not generals — that’s what I think of Orgeron. I’d have him on my team in a second, especially with his ability to recruit, but there’s a big difference between a short-term jolt and a long-term solution.

This is a Top 10 job in America. Of course, retaining Orgeron and making him part of the new staff would be a wise move.


I have a lot of love for Austin Allen. He’s second in my SEC quarterback rankings. He’s not a Heisman contender, though.

Arkansas is a somewhat surprising 5-2 at this juncture, with its only losses coming to Texas A&M and Alabama. But remember, said losses were by 21 and 19 points, respectively. They weren’t exactly last-second heartbreakers.

If a QB is going to win the Heisman without being in the hunt for a national championship, then he must have mind-blowing numbers. Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel threw for 26 touchdowns and ran for 21 more in 2012. Florida’s Tim Tebow totaled a ridiculous 55 total TDs in 2007. Voters simply couldn’t ignore them.

J.T. Barrett is a dual-threat monster for an undefeated Ohio State team. Ask Allen if he’d rather have more yards or more wins.


I tend to agree that Evan Engram is really a receiver. Tight ends put their hand in the dirt next to a tackle at least some of the time.

Ole Miss has no need for a traditional tight end. Coach Hugh Freeze’s philosophy revolves around spreading defenses out and going at a frantic pace. Even in short-yardage and goal-line situations, the Rebels are in shotgun formation.

Because Engram is such a matchup problem — too fast for linebackers, too big for safeties — he’s become Chad Kelly’s new No. 1 target with Laquon Treadwell now in the NFL. Not only does he lead Mississippi in catches, yards receiving and touchdown catches, but his 16 yards per catch are also tops on the team.

Why is he listed as a tight end? Because the Rebs list him as a tight end. Everything about his game suggests that he’s really a receiver. Be it physically or how they’re used, Engram shares little in common with, say, Alabama’s O.J. Howard.

You can’t deny him the Mackey, though. Do you disqualify a linebacker from the Butkus just because he rushes the passer like a D-end?

John Crist is the senior writer for Saturday Down South, a member of the FWAA and a voter for the Heisman Trophy. Send him an e-mail, like him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.