While it almost turned out to be poisonous, the red and blue Kool-Aid I was so readily swilling ended up going down smooth. And I'm actually drinking a glass right now. I've got so much of the stuff around the house that I'm considering getting some sort of bottling operation going here. I plan on shattering last week's record of Kool-Aid consumption, so be prepared for some potential outlandish statements.
Arkansas 42, Mississippi State 21
I haven't received word if Arkansas defensive coordinator Willie Robinson is back in the hospital with another allergic reaction to his defense's performance as they gave up 327 yards on the ground. I think he was probably able to fight it off thanks to the quarterbacking buzzsaw that is Tyson Lee and Chris Relf, meaning he only had to watch one aspect of his defense suck rather than two. Those two quarterbacks combined to go 8-13, 49 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT (the zero picks is hard to believe). Granted, they didn't really need to throw when the running game was piling up yards, but when State went down 14 with 12:35 to go in the game, they really could have used a quarterback. In fact, from the 12:35 mark to the end of the game State would only have 54 yards of offense. That impressive showing included a three and out, a turnover on downs and a seven play series in which time ran out.
Fortunately for Arkansas, while their defense was getting pounded by the run, Ryan Mallett overcame a shaky start and gave the business to the Mississippi State defense. 313 yards, 5 TDs (2 INTs) and he even danced his way to seven yards on the ground. I mention that because he came into this game with -35 yards in rushing on the year. While the State defense certainly lived down to expectations, it should be noted that they did hold Arkansas four yards shy of 400 total yards, so there's a nice feather for their hat.
But to me, the most disturbing news to come out of this game was the news that Tyson Lee did not play in the second half. Instead, the Bulldogs chose to go with Chris Relf and his tendency to throw the ball to no one rather than the other team. This is a travesty for all of us at opposing schools who have enjoyed watching Tyson Lee's body of work this season. I can't even put into words how disappointed I'll be if I don't get at least one more chance to see him throw an interception or five. But from what little I have seen of Relf, I think he has a great chance to carry on the standard of failure set by Lee.
Alabama 45, Chattanooga 0
If Chattanooga quarterback B.J. Coleman played in the SEC, he would be a lock for this week's Eric Oliver. Coleman was a spectacular 7-25, 36 yards, 2 INTs. The good news for Chattanooga was that he was not a liability on the ground as he carried the ball zero times for zero yards.
Ole Miss 25, LSU 23
As exciting as it was to hold on to win this game (although it's hard to call something that most certainly took three years off my life "exciting"), it was a game plagued by and nearly ruined by coaching buffoonery. Obviously (and rightfully so), Les Miles is getting crucified for whatever the hell it was he did and/or didn't do in the last two minutes (I'm convinced he ran it down because he thought they'd just take one shot at the end zone, never expecting the Hail Mary to fall short), but Houston Nutt did his best Les Miles impersonation and isn't catching as much flak as he should since Ole Miss won (note: I am still on a huge emotional high and couldn't be happier, but the glaring mistake needs to be pointed out.).
His disastrous decision to go for two in only the second quarter down 17-15 nearly did Ole Miss in. There should be one rule and one rule only on when it's okay to go for two. And that rule is that if you do not go for two at that time, then you have no chance to win the game. That's it. No charts, no stupid scenarios, that's the rule. At that point in the game, Ole Miss' chance to win the game did not depend on that conversion. And LSU's defense was showing no signs on being able to stop the Ole Miss offense, so more points were certainly on the way later in the game. As soon as Ole Miss failed to convert on that stupid play, I knew it was going to come back to haunt them, like say being up two with LSU sitting in field goal range with one minute to go. Stuff like that always comes back and it's exponentially increased when Ole Miss is involved.
Despite Nutt using Les Miles' brain for a few minutes, Ole Miss was able to dominate this game (and yet almost let LSU steal it). 426 yards of total offense to 290 for LSU. 153 rushing yards to just 40 for LSU. In fact, until LSU's last two drives where Ole Miss did what it could to lose the game, the Tigers had only 172 yards of offense. As expected, LSU really struggled to run the ball. I thought Ole Miss' defense had a lot to do with that, but I also thought LSU gave up too early on the run, plus they rarely ran on first down (26 total plays on first down: 19 passes, 7 runs). And as expected, the Ole Miss defensive line really got a lot of pressure on Jordan Jefferson (4 sacks) and hit him on a good number of his passes.
Dexter McCluster earned the privilege of having first choice of bedrooms at our apartment we're getting in the spring. He was good, not Tennessee good, but without him there's no way Ole Miss wins. And Jevan Snead has truly become 2000 Trent Dilfer with the Baltimore Ravens. Don't screw anything up and occasionally make a good throw, which he did several times (I know, I'm still in shock). He still terrifies me each time he has to throw, but his attempts hovered around the 20 mark, which is right where it needs to be.
And finally, let's revisit Les Miles. I'm not really sure why anyone is shocked at what he did (or didn't) do. This lunatic has been doing this crap since he got to Baton Rouge. Remember the 2007 Florida game? He went for just about every fourth down they faced. Or how about the 2007 Auburn game? He threw into the end zone just for the hell of it when a field goal wins the game (receiver caught the ball with one second left and after the game he admitted he thought more time was left on the clock before they elected to throw). He has a history of making decisions that don't make any sense. It just so happened this time his luck ran out (and no one seems to be pointing out how fortunate LSU was to even have caught the Hail Mary) and the sports gods finally served him some sweet justice. And I say it's about damn time.
Florida 62, FIU 3
Since everyone cares about this game as much as Les Miles cares about rational thought, organization and clock management, I've got a little more on the scene in Oxford on Saturday. In case you missed it, Ole Miss made national news when the KKK announced they would be in Oxford on Saturday to protest the school's decision to stop playing From Dixie with Love at football games. Not getting into how the school totally mangled the process of getting rid of the song (which I was totally for), the administration told the band to quit playing the song because a large group of students and other morons in the stands would yell "The South will rise again" at the end of the song.
Because of you assholes and your unbelievable stupidity in your choice to yell that line, my freaking school makes national news with a story in which the KKK is involved. Of course, everyone knew the school was not in favor of the KKK being there, but the very fact that they were there is all your damn fault. Since whatever part of your brain that functions couldn't understand that yelling something like "The South will rise again" is horrible for Ole Miss' image (and it's not a damn tradition so don't give me that shit), the Ku Klux freaking Klan came to Ole Miss' campus. An organization associated with murder, violence and the stupidest assholes alive arrived on the biggest football game weekend of the year. So let me extend a hearty BURN IN A FIRE to all of you assholes who chose to yell "The South will rise again" when you were told what would happen if you didn't stop.
And to make matters even worse (if that's possible at this point), Houston Nutt said in his Sunday press conference that eight recruits chose not visit this weekend because of the KKK's appearance in Oxford, and that teams were most certainly using this against us. So let me go ahead and double down on that BURN IN A FIRE. Stop being a great reason why Ole Miss has the worst fanbase in America. Stop being so damn stupid. And if you could stop breathing, that would be great too. Ole Miss has too many problems outside of ourselves to continuously make us our own worst enemy.
Tennessee 31, Vanderbilt 13
And there it is, our first two-time member of the 0-8 Club. Well done, Bobby Johnson, well done. And well done Vanderbilt for having completed five 0-8 seasons in the SEC since 1992. Also, look out for a late charge from Jonathan Crompton in the Awww-Shit Trophy competition. He's sitting at a distant 11 now, but I'd keep an eye on him next week.
Kentucky 34, Georgia 27
Thanks to Joe Cox's strong showing, we now have a tie atop the Awww-Shit Trophy leaderboard. Jevan Snead and Joe Cox are tied at 14 interceptions each with Tyson Lee lurking at 13 and Crompton at 11. Given Snead's new Trent Dilfer role, my money is on Cox to take home the trophy, especially if Lee remains on the bench. Georgia doesn't run as well as State or Ole Miss so the burden of the offense will fall on the passing game and the mediocre arm of the Ginger Ninja.
And congratulations to Rich Brooks for making me look smart when I claimed I thought he was a really good coach. It's not often you win games when you're outgained 487 to 260. This makes four straight years he's gotten the Wildcats to a bowl game.
GAME I DIDN'T PICK BUT DESERVES MENTION HERE
Connecticut 33, Notre Dame 30
For a team that's had one bowl win in 15 years (over Hawaii mind you), Notre Dame sure does get a lot of attention. They are without a doubt one of the most irrelevant teams in college football. And watching them fade into obscurity will be nice when everyone STOPS GIVING A SHIT ABOUT THEM. Why does anyone care whether or not they fire that fat pear? They're a 6-5 team! The last time they stepped onto a national stage they were brutalized by LSU in the Sugar Bowl. They suck and will continue to suck because Notre Dame hasn't meant anything since before black people started playing college football. Please, at the very least give me two days where I don't run across a story that has anything to do with a Notre Dame coach.
DEUCE MCALLISTER OF THE WEEK
(Given to the player who dominated with or without the help of his teammates and coaches.)
Dexter McCluster, RB, Ole Miss
24 carries, 148 yards
3 receptions, 18 yards
1-1, 27 yards, 1 TD
At the rate he's going, the number 22 at Ole Miss could belong to him instead of Deuce McAllister (and this award). In his last four SEC games he has 739 yards rushing. SEVEN HUNDRED AND THIRTY NINE. He's 97 yards away from 1,000 on the season and only 88 yards away from 500 yards receiving on the year. I already miss him so damn much.
ERIC OLIVER OF THE WEEK
(Given to the player who caused his team’s fans the highest degree of wailing and gnashing of teeth due to blown assignments and generally piss poor play.)
Joe Cox, QB, Georgia
12-30, 291 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT
Normally such a performance would not land you here, but this week didn't have many options. His second interception (to a defensive lineman) was a huge boost to Kentucky's comeback effort and whatever happened on the fumble on the two yard line are the main reasons Cox is this week's winner.
JOHN VAUGHT OF THE WEEK
(Given to the coach who dominated whatever task was in front of him.)
Rich Brooks, Kentucky
Goes into Athens and somehow pulls off a win despite being dominated in the stats. Brooks is now one bad Jonathan Crompton game away from having an eight win season.
2009 Awww-Shit Trophy Leaderboard
The trophy, which gets its name from the reaction of fans when their team’s quarterback throws an interception (“Awww-shit!!!"), will be awarded at the end of the year to the quarterback in the SEC who throws the most interceptions. A more prestigious award I cannot recall.
1. Jevan Snead 14
1. Joe Cox 14
3. Tyson Lee 13
4. Jonathan Crompton 11
WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO THIS WEEK
Alabama at Auburn
The last step before the Armageddon game in Atlanta. I look for Chris Todd to be spectacularly bad.
Ole Miss at Mississippi State
Two schools that hate each other bitterly, but no one else really cares. Hell, I think both schools are happy if national media types just get our names right. The Ole Miss Bulldogs is close, but not quite there. I expect this game to be cold, wet and full of spite.
Florida State at Florida
The other last step before the game of games in Atlanta. Note from CBS to Urban Meyer: Don't screw this up.
Arkansas at LSU
If Les Miles manages to lose this one, is that it? I would think not, but is there such a thing as a rational LSU person right now? For the record, if I were an LSU fan, I would be driving the bandwagon to fire him. Like, literally in the driver's seat.