Week four in the SEC – and college football in general – was fairly unimpressive and filled with heavily favored teams winning games. The Tennessee/Florida and Auburn/LSU games did give the SEC a bit of competitive action, but it was a boring week for the most part.
Surprise of the week: When Florida starting quarterback Jeff Driskel went down in the first quarter of the game against Tennessee, there wasn’t an abundant amount of hope for the Gators. But backup Tyler Murphy proved to be more than adequate. He was eight of 14 for 134 yards and a touchdown passing, and he ran for 84 yards on 10 carries.
Disappointment of the week: Alabama only converted two of 10 times on third down against Colorado State and seemed to struggle at every turn. This comes after the Crimson Tide offense put up unbelievable numbers against Texas A&M.
Performance of the week: LSU running back Jeremy Hill scored three touchdowns in the Tigers’ 35-21 win over Auburn. He gained 183 yards on 25 carries.
Alabama 31 Colorado State 6
After an epic win over Texas A&M in College Station, Alabama looked preoccupied with something (maybe it was Ole Miss) during its win over Colorado State. There’s nothing wrong with a 25-point win, but the game was still very competitive at the end of the third quarter. The Tide were also missing several key starters on both sides of the ball. Regardless, the win over the Rams is now in the books. Hugh Freeze’s Rebels are coming to Tuscaloosa looking to make themselves the talk of the nation.
Rutgers 28 Arkansas 24
The SEC has not gotten off to a fantastic start in several lower-profile but key non-conference matchups. This is one of those. I thought the Razorbacks would be able to travel to Piscataway and get out with a win. I was very wrong, and it looks like it may take Bret Bielema a little longer to get the Hogs legitimately competitive. Arkansas only put up 283 total yards against the Scarlet Knights. That’s not going to cut it.
Florida 31 Tennessee 17
This game was one of the worst football games I have seen in a while. The two teams combined for nine turnovers, six of which were committed by Tennessee. There was a point late in the first half when the Vols seemingly could not do anything on offense but turn the ball over. Tennessee is once again off to a rotten start; not much has changed in Knoxville. And with Florida losing starting quarterback Jeff Driskel in the first quarter with a leg injury, the Gators’ chances to win the SEC East took a major hit.
Georgia 45 North Texas 21
Georgia got off to a sluggish start in this one. North Texas had the game tied at 21 late in the first half. However, the Bulldogs were able to ultimately pull away. Given that LSU is coming to town next week, it was logical that Mark Richt’s squad would not be completely focused. With all attention now paid to the major contest between the hedges, expect Georgia to have its best game ready to go.
LSU 35 Auburn 21
This game actually turned out to be a positive for both teams. LSU won the game and seemingly had control the entire way, but Auburn hung around and made the Bengal Tigers a bit uncomfortable late. Still, we knew it would be a journey for Auburn and the first quarter proved that there is still some of it to travel before they are an elite team. LSU can now turn its full focus to the tilt this weekend at Sanford Stadium against Georgia, where BCS championship implications will be on the line for both teams.
Mississippi State 62 Troy 7
As far as games in which SEC teams throttle Sun Belt teams go, this one was impressive by Mississippi State. Troy is a competitive team and has been so over the past few years. And with the start that Mississippi State has had, there was some concern on my part about the Bulldogs struggling in this one. Dan Mullen has found a solid starting quarterback in Dak Prescott, who threw for 233 yards and a touchdown in State’s win over the Trojans.
Missouri 45 Indiana 28
Kevin Wilson is slowly building Indiana back into a contending football program. This trip to Bloomington was a gut-check for Missouri. The Tigers were able to pass the test in convincing fashion. I don’t care what your preconceptions about the Hoosiers were, this was a big win for Gary Pinkel’s team and a big win for the SEC. The Tigers will now play a throw-away game against Arkansas State before beginning SEC play in full.
Texas A&M 42 SMU 13
Who cares about the final score in this one? Everyone just wants to know what Johnny Manziel’s stat line is. Mr. Football was 14 of 21 for 244 yards with one touchdown. But he also threw an interception. It’s another routine thrashing of a non-conference foe by the Aggies. They will look to even their SEC record this week with a trip to Fayetteville.
Vanderbilt 24 UMass 7
In years past, this was just the kind of game Vanderbilt might lose. But since James Franklin arrived in Nashville, the winning percentage over inferior teams has been much greater. The Commodores now have two wins and two losses on the year, and they have an opportunity to give themselves a winning record at home against UAB this weekend.