First, a great big Happy Labor Day to all of you! Hope you have a fun one and a safe one.
Second, we’ll be providing a quickie/bullet-pointed wrap of SEC game action each Monday during the season. The first edition of our Weekend Wrap starts… now.
1. South Carolina 27, North Carolina 10 (Thursday)
Is there anyone who hasn’t taken a shot at Jadeveon Clowney and his conditioning yet? The bar was set too high for a player who can change a game with one or two plays. There was no chance of him winning the Heisman Trophy because there’s not a defensive end in the country to doesn’t lose more battles than he wins. So keeping a camera on Clowney for every play was bound to show that, yes, he can be blocked. But even with Clowney out of shape for the UNC game, the Gamecocks still held what was a very good offense last year to 10 stinking points. That’s USC’s D with Clowney in bad shape? What happens when he plays himself into shape? His coaches have spoken of his tendency to take plays off, but this writer puts him in the Nick Fairley category. Auburn’s old defensive tackle would go series without making an impact. Then at crunch time he’d make a game-changing play. Clowney’s the same kind of player. Criticize him for not being in shape, but don’t suggest he’s not as good as the hype. Here’s guessing Georgia’s will be double-teaming his out-of-shape rump on Saturday.
2. Ole Miss 39, Vanderbilt 35 (Thursday)
Let’s get this out of the way: There was nary a defense to be seen in Nashville last Thursday. But those offenses looked pretty good. If Bo Wallace can take care of the football this year, Ole Miss can be a fly in someone’s West Division ointment. And while he might have lost the game, Vanderbilt seems to have found an honest-to-goodness QB in Austyn Carta-Samuels. It was one game, but the VU passing attack (even without Chris Boyd) seems to have gotten an upgrade.
3. Florida 24, Toledo 6
Jeff Driskel was efficient. The defense was stifling. The running game cranked out more than 250 yards on the ground. Different season, same script for the Gators. After years of watching Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer offenses, however, one wonders if Florida fans will be happy with winning “ugly.” The empty seats at The Swamp were blamed on the heat and the opponent this weekend, but let’s see what attendance looks like in October and November. Here’s hoping UF fans aren’t so spoiled that they can’t appreciate a punch-you-in-the-mouth style victory.
4. Texas A&M 52, Rice 31
Backup quarterback Matt Joeckel put up some good numbers against Rice (14-of-19 for 190 with a touchdown and no picks), but it’s clear that A&M is one team with Johnny Football and another without him. First half score without Johnny Manziel: Aggies 28, Owls 21. Second half score with Manziel: Aggies 24, Owls 10. Texas A&M fans need to pray their hotshot signal-caller stays healthy (and eligible).
5. Oklahoma State 21, Mississippi State 3
If you’re keeping track, MSU has now lost six of its last seven contests and Dan Mullen’s record against ranked opponents is 2-17. Bulldog fans barked a year ago when we suggested State had plateaued under Mullen. Judging by the messageboards, a few marooners are starting to see things the same way. Sure the season’s young and State lost to a good OSU team. But it’s Mike Gundy’s offense that’s good, not (usually) his defense. The Cowboys allowed 420+ yards per game last season and ranked 82nd in the nation in total defense (64th in scoring defense at 28 points allowed per game). Mullen’s squad managed a field goal. It’s Year Five and State has a senior/veteran QB. If Mullen hasn’t built MSU’s offense yet…
6. Arkansas 34, UL-Lafayette 14
This one probably isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Bret Bielema’s debut win came against a bowl team from a year ago. Both Bielema and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney had reason to smile. Bielema saw two running backs (Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins) break the 100-yard barrier. And the pass happy Chaney saw new quarterback Brandon Allen complete 15 of 22 passes for 230 yards, three scores and no interceptions. It wasn’t a win over LSU, but this was a very solid — and a tad surprising — curtain-raiser for the Hogs.
7. Alabama 35, Virginia Tech 10
Christion Jones 18, Virginia Tech 0. While Alabama’s offense struggled — just 110 passing yards and just 96 rushing yards — the junior receiver/returner saved the day. He returned a punt for a score (72 yards), a kickoff for another (94 yards), and he caught AJ McCarron’s lone TD pass of the evening (from 38 yards out). Kudos to Jones, but Bama’s offense — especially that rebuilt offensive line — needs some work if the Tide are to win their third BCS title in a row and back-to-back SEC crowns.
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