Dig Baton Rouge

Down the Homestretch We Come

By Andrew Alexander

Amid another exciting weekend of college football action, the Southeastern Conference proved yet again why it is the pinnacle of the sport. With exciting upsets, mesmerizing performances and a 350-pound lineman throwing a touchdown pass, the SEC is akin to the wild, wild west, and only the strong survive.

With LSU off for the week, we have a rare chance to reflect on some things and look forward to some others. Here’s what stood out and what to look forward to in the Southeastern Conference.

 

1. LSU’s upset of Ole Miss shakes up the SEC

The first domino in a potential chaotic SEC postseason scenario fell in Baton Rouge Saturday night.

Behind freshman running back Leonard Fournette’s 154 all-purpose yard performance and a stifling performance by the LSU defense, the Tigers shocked the previously No. 3 Rebels in Death Valley. Bad Bo Wallace reared his ugly head at the worst possible moment, when the Ole Miss senior quarterback threw an interception on the Rebels’ last offensive play… with his team in position for a game-tying field goal. But give the Tigers and the Les Miles some credit.

The Mad Hatter is now 24-23 at LSU when trailing in the fourth quarter, the only FBS team with a record over .500 in that scenario since Miles’ first season donning the purple and gold in 2005.  The Bayou Bengals have somehow reentered the College Football Playoff conversation, and Miles knows a something about winning it all with two losses.

 

2. Amari Cooper could win the Heisman

Cooper took Alabama’s first play of the game against Tennessee 80 yards for a touchdown and put himself in serious contention to become the first wide receiver to hoist the Heisman Trophy since Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991.

After breaking Julio Jones’ previous program record of 221 receiving yards with 224 of his own against Tennessee, Alabama’s sensational junior wide receiver is on pace to shatter numerous other Crimson Tide receiving records. Cooper is just two yards away from breaking Jones’ single-season record of 1,133 yards. He’s three touchdowns away from breaking the program record of 11 that he set in 2012.

Plus, Cooper is just 19 receptions shy of breaking the all time career record of 194 receptions. Cooper will need some otherworldly performances against Mississippi State and Auburn.

SEC secondaries beware.

 

3.  Arkansas’ lineman moonlights as quarterback

Linemen around the country rejoiced this past Saturday as one of their own, 350-pound Sebastian Tretola threw a touchdown pass in the Razorbacks 45-17 over Alabama-Birmingham. Tretola, the heaviest player on the Arkansas roster, hit long snapper Alan D’Appollonio for a 6-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.  It was the first pass and reception for Arkansas’ newest offensive tandem. Tretola even celebrated by striking the Heisman pose. Now, if only the Razorbacks could get that coveted conference win…

 

4. The SEC could finish with two winless teams in conference play again

In 2013, both Arkansas and Kentucky finished 0-8 in conference play and a putrid 5-19 combined overall. After nine weeks this season, Arkansas, Tennessee and Vanderbilt find themselves winless in the SEC. Tennessee and Vanderbilt face off in the season finale, assuring at least one team in the state of Tennessee a conference win this season. Arkansas’ path to its first SEC victory under Bret Bielema is much bleaker.

The Razorbacks let victory slip through their hooves against Texas A&M and Alabama earlier this season and still have to face Mississippi State, LSU, Ole Miss and Missouri. Logic dictates that both Arkansas and Vanderbilt finish winless, but something tells me Bielema’s Hogs will notch at least one league win this season.

 

5. The fun is just beginning

You thought LSU-Ole Miss was exciting? Well SEC play is sure to entertain once again this weekend. The Magnolia State hosts two big SEC West showdowns as Mississippi State welcomes Arkansas to Starkvegas. Elsewhere in the state, Ole Miss hosts Auburn in a de-facto division race elimination game. And if that’s not enough, on the eastern side of the conference, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party featuring Georgia versus Florida has not lost any of its luster just because the Gators are a total dumpster fire.

When SEC football is involved, there’s never a dull moment. In the words of CBS Sports’ college football play-by-by announcer Verne Lundquist, “Oh, wow!”

 

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