By Andrew Kahn
This is the CBS Local SEC Football Report. Every Tuesday, this space will recap the results and top performances from the Southeastern Conference and look ahead to key matchups the following week.
Don’t get mad at me, LSU fans, but let’s not pretend the Tigers just won a playoff game. They won a game, against an SEC opponent, on the road. That’s not insignificant, but they still scored just 17 points versus a Florida team that was very fortunate to have its 3-1 record. But LSU did show some signs of improvement compared to listless performances against Troy (last week) and Mississippi State. And they got a much-needed win, 17-16.
It came after a week of self-reflection for the LSU program—players-only meetings and one that involved the AD, head coach, and two coordinators. The smart money believed in Ed Orgeron’s squad, as the Tigers went from a small underdog to a small favorite by kickoff. LSU led 17-3 in the fourth quarter, and it was a missed extra point that prevented Florida from tying it in the final minutes.
Tide tops Texas A&M
Alabama stinks! They only won by eight! That’s what Nick Saban would want me to write, but I won’t give in. He compared positive media coverage to “rat poison” for his players after a 27-19 victory at Texas A&M, the opposite of Butch Jones recently criticizing Tennessee’s media for being negative. Alabama did trail in this game for the first time since early in the second quarter of their season-opener, but needed just one play from scrimmage to take the lead.
The Tide leaned on their No. 1-ranked run defense to earn their 70th straight win over an unranked team (the third-longest streak in the AP Poll era). Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond was able to make some positive plays, including an incredible scramble and throw that featured a remarkable catch from Christian Kirk on the other end:
Alabama had a punt blocked out of the end zone for a safety and turned the ball over for the first time in 37 quarters, so there will be plenty for Saban to correct in practice this week.
Other notable performances:
Auburn’s offense keeps building more momentum, hanging 44 points and 561 yards on Mississippi on Saturday. After a three-score game, running back Kerryon Johnson has the most rushing touchdowns in the country at 12. He’s done it in just four games and has 11 in his last three games alone. Jarrett Stidham is not the running threat that Gus Malzahn has often worked with but the Tigers are finding other ways to move the ball, which starts with protecting him much better than earlier in the year.
Another week, another great performance from Georgia’s rushing attack and defense. In what’s becoming a theme, Jake Fromm wasn’t asked to do much through the air (he was 7/11 for 102 yards) as the Bulldogs went on the road and crushed Vanderbilt 45-14.
South Carolina’s defense scored three times in the second half of a 48-22 home win over Arkansas. The Razorbacks did little offensively until garbage time.
A wild night in Lexington ended with a 40-34 Kentucky victory over Missouri. The Tigers hit some long passes but ran out of time on their final drive. They probably should have had one more shot at the end zone, but a slow spot before what ended up as the final play—which appeared to involve a Kentucky player knocking the ball out of a Missouri player’s hands as he was headed towards the ref—didn’t help.
Tennessee and Mississippi State were off.
Biggest game: Auburn at LSU
A win here would signify serious progress for LSU. They aren’t winning any shootouts, so they’ll have to contain Auburn’s Johnson. They’ll also need more from quarterback Danny Etling than they’ve gotten recently; he hasn’t cracked 200 yards since Week 2 against Chattanooga. Last year, Auburn won without scoring a touchdown, kicking six field goals and holding on when LSU’s touchdown on the final play was overturned after officials realized the clock had expired before the snap.
Keep an eye on: Texas A&M at Florida; South Carolina at Tennessee; Arkansas at Alabama
The Florida Gators are trying to look like their mascot in Saturday’s tilt against Texas A&M. The “swamp green jersey covered in a tonal gator print” is one way to do that, but I would have preferred actual gator skin or maybe 11 guys out there in the actual Albert Gator mascot outfit. Any missed tackles by the Aggies can be blamed on the camouflage effect. Tennessee will try to avoid an 0-3 start in the SEC. Arkansas will have a harder time doing that, and they get Auburn next.
For the diehards: BYU at Mississippi State; Vanderbilt at Mississippi; Missouri at Georgia; Kentucky (off)
Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local. He writes about college football and other sports at andrewjkahn.com and you can find his Scoop and Score podcast on iTunes. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn