Everbody Chill Out: Tennessee and Arkansas Raise Expectations and Other Week 6 Action

THOSE WHO CANNOT REMEMBER THE PAST ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT
Tennessee 45, Georgia 19 

Not even 24 hours after the Vols' amazing [win] ... and ESPN is giving credit not to Tennessee but saying it was [a Georgia] collapse. ...

Oh good grief, ESPN, can't we just enjoy a moment in the sun for ONE STINKIN' DAY before you idiots begin your usual "we hate all things Tennessee" campaign?!?

Oh, I'm sorry. I miscopied this. That's actually a post about the Tennessee defeat of LSU back in 2005. Remember what happened that year? I could launch into a full-blown defense of Kyle, but I think he's more than capable of doing so himself if he thought it was needed. But it is Tennessee fans who need to stop whining. (By the way, if you're going to run a blog, you should probably know the difference between a blog and a "chatboard," if that's even a term.) You defeated one SEC team that has been inconsistent and has played a far more difficult schedule up to this point than you have even dreamed of. No, the Vols proved nothing more Saturday than that they beat an SEC team. We're not even all that sure that Georgia is a particularly good team. They might be, but the sample size to suggest that is pretty small. Just calm down.

Now, as for the other fan base involved in this game ...

For whatever it's worth, I do think [Mark Richt] has earned a mulligan and ought to get a chance to repair all the damage done this year, but I would instantly reverse that statement if he were to once again insist on retaining [some assistants]. They have failed, repeatedly, and they've got to go. Period.

Dang. It happened again. This post isn't a defense of Mark Richt and why he's earned another chance to fix things in Athens. It's about Tommy Tuberville and how he should have gotten another opportunity to correct his mistakes in Auburn last year after an extraordinarily successful run as the Tigers' coach. It was written after the 2008 West Virginia game.

(By the way, the quote used in this subhead is what George Santayana actually said.)

My point in undertaking this exercise is not to say that Tennessee will go 5-7 again or that Georgia will fire Mark Richt (though, as a South Carolina fan, I'll help pay to set up firemarkricht.com). I'm saying that ruling either out at this point of the season is to ignore history. The situations weren't exactly analogous, but they prove the danger in assuming too much from one game or that the level-headed among us will make the decision.

Fan bases have a tendency to grow increasingly irrational as their frustration increases, and while I think the Mayor and some of the other Georgia bloggers are among the smartest and most level-headed fans for their team, I have to wonder how representative they'll be if there's another embarrassing loss or two somewhere on that schedule. If Georgia is defeated by Vanderbilt or Kentucky and the Dawgs end up 6-6 or so, I'm not sure if the rational fans will be able to save Richt.

Their counterparts in Auburn weren't able to save Tuberville.

ONE SEASON IS OVER AND ONE HAS BEGUN? NOT QUITE
Arkansas 44, Auburn 23

This game was clearly strength against weakness; the worst part of Auburn's team on either side of the ball is pass defense and the best part of Arkansas' team on either side of the ball is pass offense. So Auburn fans probably shouldn't be so concerned that the Hogs rung up 44 points Saturday.

What would give me slightly more pause is the Auburn score. Arkansas' defense is not very good, though at times they looked good this past weekend. Whether that means the Hogs have improved or they just looked good by comparison is an open question.

But Chris Todd was less than stellar. He barely completed half of his passes (15-of-28) and averaged just 4.8 yards an attempt. Ben Tate, though, was nothing short of spectacular, running for 184 yards and two scores on 22 carries. Auburn's season isn't lost Saturday any more than Arkansas' season was made.

That said, Arkansas has plenty of reasons to be encouraged. Saying "pass offense vs. pass defense" doesn't tell the entire story of the game. Michael Smith ran for 145 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown, his best performance of the year.

Auburn might not be as bad as they looked Saturday and Arkansas might not be as good as they appeared. But we found out that neither is quite what we thought they were Friday.

ABOUT AS CLOSE AS IT COULD BE
South Carolina 28, Kentucky 26

When you're playing against as many odds as the Gamecocks were -- going for the program's 10th straight win against UK and Steve Spurrier's 17th -- you can be forgiven for just about anything as long as you win. Nonetheless, South Carolina will have to play better against Alabama simply to keep the game from turning into a blowout.

The score isn't at all deceptive in relation to the stats. South Carolina outgained Kentucky by 1 yard and one first down. The Gamecocks had a better passing game thanks to another solid performance from Stephen Garcia (16-of-23, 233 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INTs) and the Wildcats did better on the run, with both Derrick Locke and Randall Cobb rushing for 89 yards and a TD.

But stars beyond Garcia also emerged for the South Carolina offense, a critical part of any effort to avoid yet another late-season collapse. Kenny Miles ran for 100 yards on 17 carries and Alshon Jeffery caught seven balls -- some in freakish fashion -- for 138 yards and 3 TDs.

Is this game encouraging for Kentucky, who fell one two-point conversion short after an inexplicable decision to not use Cobb at QB to try to get it? Maybe. But Mike Hartline is probably done for the rest of the season and Rich Brooks plans not to use Cobb under center any more than usual, meaning untested signal-callers will take the field against the weaker part of the schedule.

We'll see soon enough how that turns out.

YOU'LL WIN THESE GAMES ONE OF THESE DAYS
Houston 31, Mississippi State 24

Yes, State probably got ripped off on a call that ended what could have given the Western Division Bulldogs a 24-14 lead early in the second half. But even coming this close to a consensus Top-25 team is another sign that Dan Mullen is slowly building a team that will be able to compete in the SEC.

After all, Mississippi State went almost stride-for-stride with a team that is piling up yardage at a near-historic pace and added another 553 in this game to 490 for the Bulldogs. Tyson Lee is still uneven (15-of-23, 160 yards, 2 INTs), but Anthony Dixon 21 carries, 134 yards, 2 TDs) will keep Mississippi State in a lot of games.

The defense, though, could still use a little work. Houston might be a great Conference USA team, but they're a C-USA team when all is said and done.

THEY'RE BAAAAAAACK
Army 16, Vanderbilt 13

There's no reason to avoid saying it any longer: The old Vandy is back. The Commodores outgained Army but turned the ball over three times and lost in overtime after an inspiring rally to tie the game with less than a minute left.

Larry Smith is not now a great player, though I think it's way to early to say that he never will be. He was 11-of-24 for 144 yards and 2 INTs. Smith can run -- he had the long play from scrimmage for Vanderbilt with a 33-yard run. But an SEC-caliber passer he's not, unless of course 2008 is your measuring stick. The dream of a bowl game is gone; at this point, a third win is about the best that Vanderbilt fans can hope for.

WE WROTE ABOUT THESE ONCE
Alabama 22, Ole Miss 3
Florida 13, LSU 3

It's hard to find much more to say about these two games than was said Saturday evening. I might have focused a bit more on the losing team than the winning teams, but that should be seen as no slight to Alabama. Beyond the Tide's suspect red-zone game and the fact that Tim Tebow seemed a little bit off at the beginning of the game, Alabama and Florida both passed their biggest SEC tests so far with flying colors.

They're both still on pace to collide in Atlanta. What more need to be said?

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