Welcome back to your SEC midweek whip-around-madness-palooza! Last week we sincerely wondered after Les Miles' health, and this week we're talking Rocky Top, Texas A&M, Baton Rouge weather patterns and more. Now grab the closest Lucero album and blast that sucker to 11.
If you haven't heard by now, please unlock the door of your storm bunker, step into the waning summer sun, and take a gander at the latest AP Top 25 Poll, wherein you will find all seven SEC West football programs represented. That's right, the Rebs and Bama and TAMU and Auburn and the whole squad roll in lockstep currently, which, if we're being honest and without so much as glancing at a calculator, more or less proves that 2015's national champ will come from this division. That's just plain deduction.
Speaking of deduction, it's still very, very funny that Wisconsin lost their No. 20 rank over the weekend, though one wonders how close they would've had to keep pace with Alabama to hang in the top 25. One score? Hold Roll Tide to less than 20 points? The mind boggles at such counterfactuals.
Speaking of counterfactuals, what if the Vols were a legitimate threat in the SEC East? Rocky Top boosted slightly in the polls this week to No. 23, which would mean quite a bit more for the national conversation had they not let Bowling Green ring up 30 points. A 59-30 victory certainly appears well wrought on paper, before you recall that Bowling Green went 5-3 in the MAC last season. To be sure, the Vols hemorrhaged 433 passing yards to a quick-fire throwing attack that certainly had their number at times.
Still, Rocky Top's experience and depth asserted itself in right fashion on offense, especially while running the ball, as they amassed 399 yards on 64 carries for six rushing touchdowns. That sort of mileage rings of the late-90s and early-aughts Tennessee we came to despise under Phil Fulmer.
And yet, after getting gouged in the passing game, one gets the sense that Tennessee isn't quite there yet, and with Oklahoma coming to town this week, followed two weeks later by a trip to the notoriously-difficult-to-play-in Gainesville and thence to Bama in October, it's pretty far-fetched to imagine the Vols holding up in the rankings with any kind of consistency in 2015.
Perhaps to the surprise of many -- and not to the surprise of few -- the Aggies threw an ass-kicking party over the weekend for
No. 15 Arizona State. Insofar as all successful season campaigns begin with sound defense, Twitter was aglow with John Chavis praise, due in no small part to A&M's nine sacks on the day. Overall, just how spoiled was the Sun Devils' offensive milk? So glad you asked:
Under new DC John Chavis, Texas A&M held Arizona State to its fewest points & yards since start of 2013 season— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) September 6, 2015
9 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 14 tackles for loss AND Texas A&M held Arizona State's offense to 17 points. Good move to hire John Chavis.— Knox Bardeen (@knoxbardeen) September 6, 2015
The Mustachioed Mastermind appears to have instilled in his guys a defensive voracity on par with some of Kirby Smart's or Will Muschamp's more memorable platoons, and that may well spell death for the first half of the Aggies' schedule:
Kevin Sumlin's men could in all likelihood entertain Alabama while riding a 5-0 record by the time October 17 rolls around. After spring-boarding into the No. 16 spot in the most recent AP Top 25, that little scrap in College Station turns, shall we say, downright nasty should TAMU's opening bid not be fluke.
In any case, the Aggies still need to stabilize their quarterback situation; Kyle Allen, the nominal starter, split a surprising number of snaps with Kyler Murray, and Sumlin was ever-roundabout in his answers regarding who has won the job. Still though, following a strong defensive showing and a not-bad-but-see-what-happens offensive game, David Wunderlich opines that A&M could play up to just about anyone this season.
Many people, like these two doofuses at ESPN, drank the #GEAUX poison this offseason, and so it comes as
a wonderful bit of schadenfreude an actual letdown that we weren't treated to Les Miles' 2015 legion on Saturday. What's up with the quarterback situation? Just how good is that Imperial March of a secondary? Is Les Miles wearing a catheter? These questions are important, dammit.
But come the rains did on Saturday, and happen the game did not. At least not anywhere nearly in full, and thankfully a 12-minute affair doesn't qualify as "a football game" worthy of "stats" or "win-loss tabulation" or "an actual, historical event took place here today." Miles was "adamant" that he wanted to go, while league officials weren't keen on a Sunday dawn patrol party. (You can watch all 12 minutes of the abortive attempt here, by the way.)
As it is, though, it'll be interesting to see if and when the week one no-go comes back to bite the Tigers. From a who-beat-whom-and-when-and-where perspective, it's certainly too early to tell. Still, Miles' guys notably did not get an opportunity to knock around a JV squad from their base sets, a luxury coaches relish and without which the Rad Hatter's preparation this week -- and especially that of his coordinators -- becomes murkier than bayou sludge.
And oh yeah: the Tigers now start their season at CLANGA on Saturday. Nice, nice.