The Mayor and I had a discussion earlier this week about whether Ole Miss-LSU was really an upset if the Rebels could manage to win. Many nonpartisan SEC observers, after all, chose Ole Miss to win the game, and the 31-13 waxing in the Bayou on Saturday was not a fluke in any way.
LSU's line play, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, was disappointing; Tiger backs almost always found themselves running into a swarm of red jerseys, and non-quarterbacks ran for 21 yards. Meanwhile, Jevan Snead made the Bengals' secondary resemble a California forest on a cable-news show, completing 16 of 25 passes for 274 yards and 2 TDs. Ole Miss WR Mike Wallace fell just short of his fourth 100-yard game, grabbing five passes for 99 yards and a pair of scores.
The most exciting play of the game, by far, was Houston Nutt at his finest: A fake punt that LSU saw coming, but with a twist the Bengals weren't ready for, namely fullback Jason Cook passing to safety Kendrick Lewis for a 33-yard gain that set up the Rebels' second score. A few minutes later, Ole Miss lead 21-3, and the game was practically over.
Jarrett Lee was Jarrett Lee, though neither he nor Jordan Jefferson got much help from LSU's receiving corps. Jefferson came in after Lee actually completed a risky pass instead of having it returned for a pick-six; the interception machine was hit while throwing off his back foot, which is not an ideal position to be in when a very large defender tackles you.
The remainder of the game appeared to give LSU a quarterback of the future.
|vs Mississippi / 11.22.08||Passing||Rushing|
Jefferson also threw an interception, as did Lee, but the backup also threw several impressive passes, showed some accuracy and looks to have more mobility than the starter. If LSU's line doesn't improve, scrambilng ability could become a key factor in choosing who should play.
The loss makes the Bengals' showdown with Arkansas a must-win game; after all, a loss against the Hogs would leave LSU 7-5, a record more worthy of a Music City or Liberty Bowl contestant than an Outback or Peach Bowl visitor. The Cotton Bowl is out; upset or not, Mississippi won the right Saturday to play in Dallas.
It's hard to know which game had more Tennessee Volunteer fans watching it -- this one or Texas Tech-Oklahoma, which featured a man some Rocky Top supporters hope will be the next coach of the Vols. Don't let the score deceive you; if they watched the Sooners demolish the Red Raiders, they watched the better football game.
The Vols-Dores contest, on the other hand, featured a combined six turnovers, 11 penalties and 456 yards of offense -- only 21 of those from Tennessee's passing, ahem, "attack." No one in this game played good football, and hardly anyone played football at all. (Eric Berry gave the game ball back to Fulmer and D.J. Moore wasn't much of a factor.)
Tennessee's offense was anemic, but Dave Clawson finally seems to have figured out that the best chance for the Vols is to run the ball, the run the ball and then run the ball. One could argue he discovered this about 10 games too late. Tennessee attemped nine passes, including four completions, and otherwise left things in the hands of Lennon Creer and Arian Foster, who combined for 153 of the Vols' 222 rushing yards.
For Vandy, the QB play was as mediocre as ever. Mackenzi Adams completed half his passes, and Chris Nickson's only completion of his five attempts netted -4 yards.
Of course, the Commodores will be going to a bowl game next month, and the Vols will stay home. But, for a day at least, Tennessee could still feel a bit better about itself than Vanderbilt.
MISSISSIPPI STATE? OFFENSE?!? WHO KNEW?
Mississippi State 31, Arkansas 28
Want to know how bad Arkansas' defense is? Just take a look at Tyson Lee's numbers from Saturday: 23-of-40, 219 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs. Sure, you might have figured that Anthony Dixon had a 179-yard rushing performance in him -- but Tyson Lee?!? Really?
Not that the Bulldogs really shut down Arkansas' passing attack; Nathan Dick (brother of Casey) passed for 333 yards, completing 25 of his 43 attempts for three scores and a pick.
What sticks out about this game is the near-equality in most of the major stat categories: Mississippi State had 22 first downs to Arkansas' 20; the Bulldogs rung up 445 yards in total offense while Arkansas piled up 442; the time-of-possession edge for Mississippi State was a mere 70 seconds. Which is really what you would expect from a game between two bad teams playing out the string.
Florida 70, The Citadel 19 :: Alligator Army recap (Florida)
This game officially became absurd when Chris Rainey hit 126 yards rushing with his fourth carry; he would end up with 142 on seven rushing attempts. Tim Tebow's nine completions gave him 201 yards passing, the most since the Oct. 11 demolition of LSU. When it was over, the Gators had 705 yards of total offense and their first 70-point effort since Steve Spurrier walked the sidelines.