What we learned from the SEC in Week 4 - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

What we learned from the SEC in Week 4

(RNN) - It wasn't the best of weekends, but every football weekend in the SEC is a good one.

Below is the weekly list of what we learned from watching SEC games in Week 4.

1. As good as the conference is, it is not immune to bad weeks. What SEC game did you watch this week? What game were you entertained by?

The only acceptable answer to that last question is the Great Tiger Tussle in the Loveliest Little Village on the Plains. (Some people like to see the world burn, so for them we'll also accept Arkansas' continued plunge into a black hole). We'll get to that in a minute, but no other game was very inspiring this week. Florida cruised over Kentucky, South Carolina handled Missouri, Georgia had no trouble with Vanderbilt and all other teams either didn't play, weren't on TV or played teams that gave little resistance.

We hope the coming weeks will be a lot better, and further hope that not every game of some interest is played at the same time. Even the most devoted football fan would have had a tough time keeping up with the Tiger Tussle, Georgia/Vandy, Arkansas and Tennessee, all playing in primetime. That's if you don't include Clemson and Florida State's epic showdown, Notre Dame's battle with Michigan and any other game you might have been interested in (like, say, your alma mater remaining undefeated in a game only on TV three states away from where you live, but we digress).

It will be great when all the games are bad except one – like this week – but frustrating when all the games are good. Neither remote controls nor the ligaments in your thumb are built for that kind of stress.

2. Auburn must have been faking it to lure LSU into a false sense of security. Kiehl Frazier wasn't terrible, Auburn looked like it had a good game plan and the defense made tackles. Where has this been hiding?

Before you start declaring Auburn (1-3, 0-2) back to form, sit down, cool off and consider this: LSU rushed for as many yards as Auburn had total offense, the difference in the game was Tre Mason being tackled in the end zone and Frazier ended the game like he was expected to – with an interception as time expires.

Auburn was able to make up for offensive deficiencies because LSU was almost as bad (more on this in a minute). Give credit to Auburn's defense, though. It answered the challenge time and time again and proved that it can be a hard unit to move the ball on. It has to be because the offense continues to be dreadful.

Mason led the way on the ground with 54 yards and Frazier threw for 97 with two interceptions. Last week in this column we advocated Auburn never throwing the ball again, except in the case of a Hail Mary. We continue to stand behind that assessment.

3. Les Miles doesn't trust Zach Mettenberger, and after Miles was hit in the head by one of his passes in the fourth quarter, who could blame him? All kidding aside, though, that was one of the longest throws Mettenberger attempted all night, and just like LSU's receivers, Miles failed to make the catch.

LSU (4-0, 1-0) attempted 27 passes and Mettenberger completed 15 of them for 169 yards. That's not a good number. The play calling was the most conservative any team has done since LSU played Alabama. The two games involving those teams were wildly criticized for their lack of scoring and conservative, and at times, fearful play calling.

The Tiger Tussle could have easily been Part 3 of that series. When Mettenberger did throw, it was short and generally near the sideline. LSU only took a couple of chances deep, and one of those was an incompletion in the end zone.

Whether it was the loss of running back Alfred Blue, an unexpected scheme by the Auburn defense, bloated expectations due to weak scheduling, having to actually leave Baton Rouge or Les Miles not liking the taste of the Jordan-Hare Stadium grass, LSU got exposed. We'll have to wait two weeks to know for sure because with a game against Towson (Yes, Towson. Bonus points to anyone who knows Towson's mascot and location) that poor scheduling once again rears its ugly head.

4. Florida is in perfect position to pull an upset over LSU. While LSU plays Towson, Florida gets a tougher opponent – a bye week.

Florida (4-0, 3-0) doesn't have a lot of issues to work out. Its defense has been clicking on all cylinders, the offense has been running smooth behind Mike Gillislee and Jeff Driskel and Caleb Sturgis the SEC's best field goal kicker. On top of that, the Gators look better with every game they play.

Having the week off could be problematic, but it's more likely that Florida will rest up and correct any underlying issues the coaches are aware of and get ready to play LSU. After seeing how Auburn attacked LSU, Florida has got to be excited. The Gators have a better defense, an equivalent running game and a better quarterback, and like Auburn they're at home.

Everything is in the Gators' favor. Now, they just have to capitalize.

5. Missouri should be scouring its SEC contract looking for a way out. The Tigers have quickly learned there is no Iowa State, Kansas or Kansas State to beat up on here. A fourth-quarter meltdown against Georgia and a whistle-to-whistle struggle against South Carolina have left the Tigers (2-2, 0-2) looking for a little relief.

Missouri hung with Georgia for three quarters and hung with South Carolina (4-0, 2-0) for one, but in the end didn't have enough on offense or defense. Neither of Missouri's first two conference opponents were at full strength. Georgia was missing four defensive players due to suspension and South Carolina was missing safety D.J. Swearinger after a suspension for an illegal hit.

Both should have made it easier for pass-heavy Missouri, but it still wasn't enough. After a glance at their schedule, Kentucky and Vanderbilt appear to be the only SEC teams Missouri can match up with, and Vanderbilt played South Carolina to a much closer game. The Tigers may have to win both to be bowl eligible.

One saving grace, though, is Missouri ends the season against Texas A&M, which it beat each of the last two years.

6. Tyler Wilson can't fix all of Arkansas' problems. Maybe this was already known, but Arkansas didn't start to struggle until Wilson was injured. Now he's back and the Hogs look almost as bad as they did without him.

As good as Wilson is, he doesn't play defense, and that's where Arkansas is most vulnerable. He threw for 419 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. All three touchdowns went to Cobi Hamilton, who had 303 receiving yards.

Arkansas threw that much for two reasons. First, its running game continues to be virtually nonexistent, and second, the Hogs' defense allowed Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova to throw for 397 yards and five touchdowns.

It's really hard to win when the defense allows that kind of a day to a quarterback, unless the other quarterback matches it. Wilson came close, but his two interceptions proved to be the difference. Arkansas (1-3, 0-1) faces Texas A&M and Auburn the next two weeks and may not get a win until hosting Kentucky on Oct. 13.

7. South Carolina's quarterback job is in good hands. Connor Shaw completed 20 consecutive passes, threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns and hit nine receivers in a 31-10 win over Missouri. It was exactly what he needed to do: Win convincingly in a conference game and look good doing it.

Shaw had been suffering from a shoulder injury, but didn't show any ill effects as he was flawless against a Missouri secondary that at times looked like three men trying to cover seven. Shaw also dealt with a minimal pass rush and was able to exploit every weakness and soft spot in the coverage the Tigers showed him.

Entering games against Kentucky, LSU, Georgia and Florida, Shaw showed he is ready for the gauntlet and could lead the Gamecocks to an upset – or two – in that stretch, all while not worrying if Dylan Thompson will steal his job.

8. Derek Dooley's seat is getting hotter. Pretty soon it will be so hot his pants will be on fire, which is not good because they're already such a bright orange it will be hard to know when that happens.

Tennessee pulled out a win 47-26 over Akron with a strong fourth quarter, but that isn't all Vols fans will see. The game was tied at halftime, and early in the fourth quarter, Tennessee (3-1, 0-1) held a four-point lead. For a team that just a couple of weeks ago was entertaining thoughts of shaking up the SEC East, this was a cold shock back to reality.

Tennessee grabbed three interceptions, which proved to be the difference in the game, but the next four games on the Vols' slate are Georgia, Mississippi State, Alabama and South Carolina. An 0-4 stretch through those games and we won't need to look at Dooley's pants to know if they're burning.

9. You should smile, if for no other reason than the press conference entertainment coaches have provided this year.

The SEC's coaches are doing much better with their weekly comments than former SEC coach Lane Kiffin, who is prone to stopping interviews by saying "I gotta go," and running away. Nick Saban had some fun making everyone who covers Alabama nervous by chiding them for saying Western Kentucky isn't very good, and Gary Pinkel said people who aren't familiar with his Missouri team are in a coma.

But Arkansas' John L. Smith takes the awards for best press conference opening, most absurd request ever made to the media and creepiest man on the planet when he demanded the Arkansas press corps "SMILE!" or he wasn't going to talk.

Maybe that's what USC's media contingent should do. Smile a little, and maybe Kiffin will be more inclined to talk.

10. No one is happier right now than Alabama. While the world spins in chaos and bombs go off all around them, the Crimson Tide stride confidently through the mess and come out clean on the other side.

The Tide (4-0, 1-0) have been so dominant that the most intriguing story line of their game with Florida Atlantic this week was if they would get a third consecutive shutout. They didn't, and that's about the worst thing that's happened in Tuscaloosa this year.

With what look like easy games against Ole Miss, Missouri and Tennessee upcoming, it could be a while before Alabama looks less than pristine. It may only take an evil stare from Saban to gets wins in those games. If that happened, it would probably look kind of like this.

BONUS POINTS: The Towson Tigers are from Towson, MD, which is north of Baltimore. Their home stadium is Johnny Unitas Stadium. Unitas did not attend Towson and does not currently play for the team, rendering their chances for an upset of LSU as those of a snowball in … a place that's really hot.

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