Impact Of Weekend's SEC Headliners
Saturday's slate of SEC games brought excitement to fans even before they started. After all, you had a Top-10 matchup between LSU and Georgia, and a Top-25 matchup between Alabama and Ole Miss.
In the end, one game was every bit as advertised (and then some), while the other was disappointing for a number of reasons.
Georgia came back to beat LSU in the final minutes, 44-41, as a defensive stop (as predicted) is what it took for one team to finally come out on top in the offensive shootout. Ole Miss' game with Alabama, however, was disappointing in the sense that the Rebels failed to score even one point.
Regardless, both games gave us an idea of how the rest of the conference season will take shape in the SEC.
Georgia's Schedule Opens Up
With the kind of offense the Bulldogs have, their schedule really opens up the rest of the way. Up next for the Bulldogs are games against Tennessee, Missouri and Vanderbilt before a date with Florida.
The only team that should give the Bulldogs concern is Florida. But it's not the offense the Bulldogs need to worry about. It's the Gators' defense that could give Georgia fits.
Florida is allowing 12.8 points per game, but that's also been against the likes of Tennessee, Kentucky and Toledo. They did lose to Miami (FL), but that was due in large part to the five turnovers the Gators had. Without those, they likely would have won a close game.
But the one thing to also consider is the fact that Georgia has scored 40-plus points against some of the top defenses in the country. Florida's defense is one of the best, but isn't head-and-shoulders above the likes of Clemson, South Carolina and LSU.
If Georgia gets through unscathed over the next four, an SEC title game appearance is all but a guarantee with Auburn and Kentucky left on the schedule.
LSU's Season Not Finished
Despite what some fans think, the Tigers still have a legitimate shot at making the SEC Championship Game, where a rematch with Georgia is likely.
The schedule isn't going to make it easy. Left for the Tigers are Florida (Oct. 12), Ole Miss (Oct. 19), Alabama (Nov. 9) and Texas A&M (Nov. 23). With the offense the Tigers showed against Georgia, they should have no problem beating the first two.
Alabama and Texas A&M are a bit tricky, however, as we saw in their 49-42 game earlier this year. Both teams have been able to show they can put up a lot of points, although the Aggies have been more consistent with that this year (49.2 points per game). But the Tigers proved they can put up a lot of points as well as they have the skill players to compete with both teams.
If the Tigers can beat those two, then we'll have a rematch in the SEC title game.
Alabama's Offense Still A Concern
The Crimson Tide looked good on defense, but there's still some concern over the Tide finishing drives. It's the same concerns that were voiced after the game with Virginia Tech.
While it's true that Alabama came out on top against Ole Miss, the fact remains they had to resort to three field goals to finish off drives. That didn't happen against Texas A&M or else the Aggies would have come out on top. And, if Alabama has to do that against LSU, expect the Tigers to take advantage.
Alabama is driving down the field and getting a lot of yards on the ground, but they have to do a better job at getting into the end zone. Whether it's play-action passes on first down or throwing a wrinkle into the scheme, there are a lot of options the Tide have. Nick Saban just has to be willing to explore them.
Ole Miss Not There Yet
The was a lot of hype surrounding the Rebels and the best recruiting class in its history. However, Alabama showed them it takes more than a top recruiting class to beat the No. 1 team in the nation.
Ole Miss will get there, but they have to put together another solid recruiting class and continue to get better on offense. Bo Wallace and Jeff Scott are great players, but the Rebels need a bruiser to bust through the middle. Until they get a tailback who can do that, they'll struggle against some of the better defenses in the conference.
Regardless, you can't count out the Rebels. And don't be surprised if they're playing in a New Year's Day bowl game.