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 match-ups the following week.
LSU stunned at home
Troy is not a bad team. The Trojans won 10 games last season. They nearly beat LSU in 2004 and 2008, when they blew a 28-point lead in the second half. Still, this was Troy, and this was LSU. The Tigers had the longest non-conference home win streak this millennium, at 49 games. They were ranked in both major polls and a three-touchdown favorite on Saturday night. Troy led 17-0 and held on for a 24-21 stunner.
LSU running back Derrius Guice was hurt and did not play, and after the game head coach Ed Orgeron expressed incredulity over the first play of the game, a hand-off to the third-string back that resulted in a fumble. The first half didn’t end well for LSU either, as a bad call against Troy ended up helping the Trojans. Officials originally ruled time ran out after a big Troy completion, but a review determined there were two seconds left. Troy was out of timeouts, but the review allowed them to set up their field goal operation without a rush, and the successful kick—which bounced off the cross bar—made it 10-0 at half.
A Troy fumble gave LSU a chance at the end, but Danny Etling was intercepted with 11 seconds left; both he and back-up quarterback Myles Brennan threw picks. It was a devastating Homecoming loss, and LSU paid Troy $985,000 for their visit.
Top teams win big
There were three blowouts in the SEC on Saturday, involving teams that have established themselves as the league’s elite. Alabama was expected to crush Mississippi, but 66-3 was impressive even for Nick Saban’s standards. Alabama seemed to break the Rebels’ will early in Tuscaloosa, as an Ole Miss receiver didn’t bother to react after a pass intended for him was intercepted—and eventually returned for a score—early in the first to make it 14-0.
Auburn has bounced back from a loss to Clemson—a defeat that only looks more understandable with each passing week—to post consecutive runaway wins to start conference play. On Saturday, Auburn welcomed Mississippi State to Jordan-Hare and sent them home on the wrong side of a 49-10 beating. Auburn’s offensive line is improving, and the unit gave quarterback Jarrett Stidham and company plenty of time to hit several big plays.
Right now the biggest potential challenger to Alabama is in the East. Georgia moved up to No. 5 in the AP poll after becoming the first team to shutout Tennessee since 1994, doing so at Neyland Stadium no less. The Bulldogs rolled up 41 points of their own, once again relying on their ground game—Nick Chubb went over 100 yards for the 20th time in his career—to make sure this game wasn’t as close as recent meetings between the rivals.
Tennessee coach Butch Jones, who used the phrase “fake news” while attacking the team’s media coverage earlier in the week, has backed himself into a corner. The Vols are on a bye this week, but their problems likely can’t be fixed with some extra practice opportunities.
Other notable performances:
The Texas A&M defense recorded seven sacks and scored the game’s final 17 points to beat South Carolina 24-17 at Kyle Field. The Gamecocks’ inability to run the ball—they managed just 68 rush yards, not counting sacks—allowed the Aggies to get after the quarterback.
Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio was named the starter early last week. For the second year in a row, his season was cut short by a major injury. He broke his collarbone in the second quarter of Florida’s 38-24 home win over Vanderbilt on Saturday. Feleipe Franks was given freedom to make plays in his place, and the Gators were successful running the ball. The play of the game was undoubtedly this improbable connection between Franks and Freddie Swain:
A fourth quarter in which Kentucky blocked a punt and Eastern Michigan missed an extra point helped the Wildcats escape with a 24-20 home victory. This is not the Eastern Michigan program of old; the Eagles went a bowl game last year and look even better this season. The Wildcats will gladly take their 4-1 record and their favorable upcoming stretch of games.
The other SEC result (home team first): Arkansas 42, New Mexico State 24; Missouri (off)
Biggest game: LSU at Florida
Certainly LSU’s loss this past week drained some hype from this match-up. But unlike many of the other Week 6 SEC tilts, this one figures to be competitive. Florida is 3-0 since its season-opening loss to Michigan and, for better or worse, has certainty at quarterback. Beating LSU will only intensify the chatter that Orgeron is not the man for the job in Baton Rouge. Don’t expect too many points.
Keep an eye on: Georgia at Vanderbilt; Mississippi at Auburn; Alabama at Texas A&M
The schools that comprise the aforementioned elite trio are all big favorites this Saturday. Delivering on those expectations would only cement that status. Vanderbilt won in Athens last season, a result that Georgia coach Kirby Smart called “embarrassing” and “sickening.” Auburn’s offense will continue to try to catch up to its defense. Texas A&M and freshman quarterback Kellen Mond have bounced back nicely from the season-opening collapse against UCLA, but Alabama presents a challenge unlike any other.
For the diehards: Missouri at Kentucky; Arkansas at South Carolina; Mississippi State, Tennessee (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 email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn