Clear Your Schedule – SEC 2014, Week 9

By Brian Wilmer -

So here we are, week 9 of the SEC season, and we’re still nowhere close to being settled.  We learned a lot about some of the teams looking to make the jump to the next level.  There are also still three SEC teams ranked in the top four, and Alabama’s win puts everything back into question.  We may not have a lot more answers after this week, but before we try to figure out any of that, let’s look at last week’s Three Big Things from SEC play.

  1. Bama’s back:  Remember when a certain network devoted the majority of its flagship programming to inserting Kenny Hill as the Heisman frontrunner, giving him nicknames and casually forgetting that a quarterback who wore number 2 ever played there? Good times, those.  Hill’s performance of late, though, has led to questions about whether or not he should be benched.  Friends, Alabama worked Texas A&M in a 59-0 butt-kicking, outdoing the Aggies in first downs by a staggering 30-8 margin.  The Tide outrushed the Aggies 298-31.  The final yardage tally:  602-172.  Sleep on Alabama at your own peril.
  2. Let’s slow our roll on Kentucky:  We were all fired up about Kentucky, and right as basketball practices began, UK became the latest victim of a nighttime boat race in Death Valley.  The Wildcats notched just 217 total yards in a 41-3 loss in Baton Rouge last week, and while Kentucky is just one victory from a return to a bowl game, this does tend to “reboot” their season a little bit.
  3. Muschamp a dead man walking?:  Will Muschamp is just 25-19 at Florida, and the 11-2 Sugar Bowl season of two years ago seems as though it were two decades ago.  Since that Sugar Bowl appearance, the Gators are just 7-11, and a disappointing 5-8 in the SEC.  Missouri throttled Florida in the Swamp last weekend, taking home a 42-13 victory after Georgia shut them out, 34-0.  Treon Harris was responsible for two late scores, but that still doesn’t take away the four fumbles (three lost) and three interceptions by the Gator offense against Mizzou.  Missouri passed for 20 yards, ran for 99, committed 11 penalties for 74 yards…and won by 29.

On to week nine action — but first, it’s trivia time!

SEC Trivia, Week 9:  What was the average price of gas the last day Tennessee defeated Alabama?

Keyword Search (all times Eastern and rankings AP)

UAB (4-3, 2-2 Conference USA) at Arkansas (3-4, 0-4 SEC) 
Noon | SEC Network

  • Breaking the seal:  Despite being in the same region, this is the first time Arkansas has ever played UAB.  The Razorbacks are unblemished in six all-time outings against Conference USA foes.  Arkansas has defeated Tulsa (twice), Memphis, East Carolina (2010 Liberty Bowl), UTEP and Southern Miss.
  • Leading the pack:  Arkansas’ Alex Collins and UAB’s Jordan Howard were numbers one and two among freshmen in rushing last season, tallying 1,026 and 881 yards, respectively.  Collins does not even lead his own team this year, as his 665 yards trail Jonathan Williams’ 677.  Howard has 752 rushing yards this season, good for third among C-USA rushers.
  • Maybe it’s the SEC:  Bret Bielema is attempting to go 7-0 against non-conference opponents since coming to Fayetteville.  Those wins have come against Louisiana, Samford, Southern Miss, Nicholls, Texas Tech and Northern Illinois.  Conversely, Bielema’s Hogs are 0-12 against conference foes.

Print that, tweet that, whatever:  Bill Clark has already done great things at UAB.  They’ll be competitive, but it’s tough to see them winning here.

#1 Mississippi State (6-0, 3-0 SEC) at Kentucky (5-2, 2-2 SEC) 
3:30pm | CBS

  • That’s the second-longest?:  Florida State — as most people likely know — has the longest active win streak, at 23.  Mississippi State owns the second-longest streak — at nine.  The Bulldogs lost three consecutive gamea to top-25 teams last year (at South Carolina, at Texas A&M and at home against Alabama) before launching this streak.
  • Dethroning the king:  Kentucky looks to make (somewhat recent) history by beating the top-ranked Bulldogs.  It’s been seven years since Kentucky took down number one, clipping LSU 43-37 in a three-overtime decision on October 13, 2007.
  • In good company:  Mississippi State’s sports information department compared quarterback Dak Prescott’s season to the seasons of recent Heisman-winning SEC quarterbacks.  Prescott has a greater passing yard total than Cam Newton (2010) or Tim Tebow (2007) at this point in their respective seasons.  He has more touchdowns than Newton or Tebow at this juncture, and is tied with Johnny Manziel’s 2012 Heisman pace.

Print that, tweet that, whatever:  Kentucky has been so good early on, but this is a tough stretch for the Wildcats.  This is an unfavorable matchup.

Vanderbilt (2-5, 0-4 SEC) at Missouri (5-2, 2-1 SEC) 
4:00pm | SEC Network

  • Sensing a Patton:  Vanderbilt quarterback Patton Robinette is expected back this week.  Robinette is 23-for-32 on the season for 240 yards and two scores.  Freshman Johnny McCrary has been the man under center of late, with fellow youngster Wade Freebeck and LSU transfer Stephen Rivers proving largely ineffective.
  • The century mark:  Missouri beat Vanderbilt 51-28 last season.  This was the first win for the Tigers in a seemingly unbelievable 113 years.  That 26-6 Mizzou win came on November 7, 1896.  The Tigers are 3-2-1 against Vandy all-time.
  • You need to be more offensive:  Vanderbilt ranks last or next-to-last in the SEC in every major offensive category.  The Commodores have scored an average of just 15.3 points per game against SEC foes.  If that’s not bad enough, the Vandy D is surrendering 37.5 points per game in conference.

Print that, tweet that, whatever:  Vandy will not only have troubles winning this game; they may not win another this year.

#3 Ole Miss (7-0, 4-0 SEC) at #24 LSU (6-2, 2-2 SEC) 
7:15pm | ESPN

  • The Ocho:  Ole Miss finds themselves with a 7-0 record to start the season.  They’ve only started 8-0 once in program history.  That one time was in 1962, when they were 10-0 and partial national champions.
  • A number that’s not just a classic Pearl Jam record:  LSU’s sports information department points out that the Tigers have defeated a top-ten opponent in Death Valley in each of the last four years.  LSU has just this game and their next game against Alabama to extend their streak of beating top-tens.
  • Stifling:  The Rebels have allowed just 10.8 points per game against SEC opponents.  They are first in the nation in scoring defense altogether, allowing just 10.6 points per game this season.  Ole Miss opponents have scored five touchdowns in four SEC conference games.

Print that, tweet that, whatever:  This is a night(ish) game in Death Valley, but Ole Miss is across the field.  Little bit different game than Kentucky.

South Carolina (4-3, 2-3 SEC) at #5 Auburn (5-1, 2-1 SEC) 
7:30pm | SEC Network

  • The losingest little village on the Plains:  South Carolina has never defeated Auburn in Auburn.  Auburn has victories in each of the teams’ three meetings in Jordan-Hare.  The only time South Carolina has beaten the Tigers outside of the Palmetto State came in Birmingham in 1933.
  • Righting the ship:  South Carolina looks to avoid losing three consecutive SEC games for the first time in five years.  Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida last did the trick, consecutively clipping the Gamecocks in 2009.
  • Twenty is the key number:  Only Florida State, Ohio State and Marshall can claim the same distinction as Auburn.  Each of these four teams have scored 20 or greater points in each game this season.  South Carolina is next-to-last in scoring defense in the SEC, averaging 31.4 points per game.  The Gamecocks have surrendered 21 or greater points to each of the FBS opponents they have played this season.

Print that, tweet that, whatever:  An already-ugly season for the HBC and the Gamecocks looks as though it’s about to get even worse.

#4 Alabama (6-1, 3-1 SEC) at Tennessee (3-4, 0-3 SEC) 
7:30pm | ESPN2

  • A series of runs:  We mentioned earlier on in this piece that it had been a while since Alabama had lost to Tennessee.  Strangely enough, this entire series has been based on long runs by either team.  Alabama won ten straight between 1971-81, then lost four in a row, followed by a nine-game unbeaten streak and a seven-game losing streak.
  • We’re not Worley:  Numerous outlets are reporting that Nathan Peterman will be the starting quarterback for Tennessee this week, as starter Justin Worley battles injury.  Peterman has played in four games this season, completing 8-of-15 passes for 39 yards.  The redshirt sophomore passer was 10-for-23 last season for 45 yards, throwing two rips.
  • Trouble with ranked opponents:  Tennessee has not beaten a top-five or top-ten opponent since 2005 and 2006, respectively.  The Volunteers beat then-fourth-ranked LSU in Baton Rouge in late September of 2005, and have then proceeded to lose their next 18 games against such teams.  The Vols’ last victory against a top-ten opponent came against tenth-ranked Georgia in 2006, after having whiffed against their previous 22 top-ten foes.

Trivia answer:  The average price of gas was $1.91 per gallon on the last day Tennessee defeated Alabama, October 21, 2006.  (link)

Comments (4)

I loved the Three Big Things at the beginning of the article.Your entertaining and graphic description of upcoming games is good stuff.I have said before that this conference is the best in football,and having three of the top 4 teams in the country definitely bears that out.
The game that everyone will be looking at as a possible ‘trip up’ game is in Death Valley tonight.That game will do a lot to promote Ole Miss as legitimate.Great job,as always.

Once again big games for Mississippi schools, don’t underestimate Kentucky. Miss St may win big in the end but Wildcats should keep it close. Nice job Stoops has done there.

Couldn’t agree more about Kentucky. Turning around a down program that quickly in the SEC is absolutely to be commended. I’m pretty high on that program going forward.

“Death Valley is where teams dreams come to die. Dreams are dying and shall continue to die before a crowd of 102, 000 people.