Alabama 49, Texas A&M 42: Looks like Alabama’s offensive woes were just temporary, as the Crimson Tide blitzed the Aggies with 35 straight points midway through the game, and had 568 yards of total offense. Lesson learned: A&M’s defense will probably prevent it from being a national title contender. On the other hand — wow! — A&M gained 628 yards on the Crimson Tide, the most Alabama has given up in its football history. Johnny Manziel had 562 yards of his own, but also showed his downside: a couple of critical errors in judgment, one of which led to an interception in the end zone, and the other which resulted in a pick-6. ‘Bama retains that top spot in the polls, but look out, Oregon is breathing down its neck at No. 2.
Oregon 59, Tennessee 14: Speaking of the Ducks, and speaking of historically-bad performances, OU’s spanking of the Vols was the worst beating that UT’s taken since 1910. Oregon started slowly, but once the Quack Attack got rolling, the Vols couldn’t do much but sit and watch a 59-point avalanche — all consecutive — smother them. Oregon is definitely an elite team, but Saturday’s game also showed how much the Vols lack in speed and athleticism compared to the top teas.
South Carolina 35, Vanderbilt 25: The off-field distractions may have caught up with Vandy, which looked unprepared to play for roughy 25 minutes. Then, Steven Clarke’s interception that brought the ball back to the Carolina 1 started a slow build that got Vandy back in the game. Credit the Commodores for their grit in coming back — an interception in the end zone thwarted a drive that could have brought VU within 3 with a half-quarter to play — but the ‘Dores are springing major leaks defensively that have to be fixed. Vandy has a couple of easy games ahead which give it a chance to fix that, but so far the Commodores are clearly a step or two behind the top half of the league both offensively and defensively.
Ole Miss 44, Texas 23: Over the weekend, I picked the Rebels by nine, and said it might be worse. Well, it was: after trailing 23-17 late in the second quarter, the Rebels got all the points the rest of the way. Coach Hugh Freeze’s team is officially legit, and Texas coach Mack Brown is unofficially toast. The best news: that Rebel defense (320 yards) continues to get better as the younger players grow up.
Arkansas 24, Southern Miss 3: Another nice win for the rebuilding Razorbacks, even if it came against a team riding a 15-game losing streak, since UA did it mostly without starting quarterback Brandon Allen. Arkansas needs to get him back soon, because it’s hard to beat most teams throwing just 11 times, which is what happened Saturday.
Auburn 24, Mississippi State 20: The Tigers snapped a 10-game SEC losing streak, but the better news was that Nick Marshall (23-of-34, 339 yards, two TDs) finally showed he had big-play potential. That included the game-winning scoring strike with 10 seconds left. (Of course, he also had two interceptions.) The Tigers probably ought to be concerned with a defense that gave up 415 yards to a team playing without its starting quarterback, but hey, Auburn’s looking a lot better and its three wins matches the total achieved all last year. Next weekend’s trip to LSU will be the real test of progress.
Louisville 27, Kentucky 13: A 339-yard second-half outburst powered Louisville past out-manned UK, but for the Wildcats, it was another step in the right direction. The biggest problem for Kentucky is that neither quarterback Maxwell Smith or Jalen Whitlow was sharp, but ‘Cat fans will need to exercise some patience as the talent gap is still well behind even the league’s bottom-half teams.
LSU 45, Kent State 13: Quarterback Zach Mettenberger’s efficiency continues to be incredible — on Saturday, he hit 13-of-18 throws for 264 yards and three scores. Okay, it was just Kent State, but the Tigers just keep looking impressive on both sides of the ball.