Even though there were only four games in Week 9 in the Alliance Killer known as the SEC this week, there were four reality checks dished out and must be cashed in Lexington, Gainesville, Nashville, and Oxford as it was a variable House of Horrors for those programs on Halloween weekend.
Let’s sort through the candy (and in some cases the gore) and discuss the small but critical week in the conference.
Week 8 Wrap-up
Mississippi State 31, Kentucky 17
Why Should I Care: The Cats were riding high going into Stark Vegas with New Year’s Six bowl aspirations and an 11 win season in their sights. Instead, the Cats leave there with dashed dreams at the hands of the pirate known as Mike Leach. The UK offense was putrid outside of WanDale Robinson and the defense could not hold the Air Raid out of the end zone to save the day. Quarterback Will Levis had his toughest game as a Wildcat, and the running game was stifled by the MSU defense. MSU signal-caller Will Rogers III was darn near perfect against the Cats defense too. If the Kentucky Wildcats have a Kryptonite in the conference, it has to be Mississippi State.
The Dawgs (5-3) are all but assured a bowl berth now and simply outperformed the Wildcats. They deserved the victory outright. And I still hate cowbells.
For the Cats (6-2), it’s time to come back to earth and go back to work. They’ve had two weeks hearing how awesome they are nationally and took the Nick Saban “rat poison.” They’ve got to flush it out of their system in a hurry as archival Tennessee comes to town off a bye week. The Vols will come for blood after getting humiliated 34-7 last season in Knoxville. The UK season isn’t over, though. Plenty of teams lay eggs one week and salvage things the next week. The Cats can too. But the Cats have to purge this game and get refocused or another total meltdown awaits.
Auburn 31, Ole Miss 20
Why Should I Care: I owe the Tigers (6-2) an apology. I’ve kind of explained away their success as either a miracle or just overpowering inferior talent. I’m sorry. Auburn is for real. Bryan Harsin should be SEC Coach of the Year, taking a rudderless program and giving it a new identity of toughness and execution. After beating the Rebels (6-2), they are right even with Texas A&M as the second-best squad in the SEC West. Their game will be a huge matchup.
You could say Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral had a tough night, but I tend to believe that the Heisman contender is finally showing some signs of wear after putting Herculean performances up for the Rebs. Ole Miss also has some injuries to key people and their hyperkinetic offense doesn’t have that flash it had earlier. Are they still good? Absolutely. If they can get healthy again, they are a serious problem for any team.
Georgia 34, Florida 7
Why Should I Care: The beat goes on for the Bulldogs (8-0). They once again showed with no doubt who is the best team in America. Consider that at the end of the second quarter, the Dawgs were only leading 3-0 and Florida had hope. Then in a matter of four minutes, UGA hung 21 points and salted the game away. That was super impressive. Georgia might be at least 14 points better than anyone else in America. America. They also clinched another SEC East title after Kentucky’s loss later in the day.
For the Gators (4-4), it seems the cracks are getting wider and wider in Dan Mullen’s program. The offense is unsettled at quarterback and very sporadic, the defense is hemorrhaging yards and points, and both Mullen and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham are being grilled in the public arena like Gator Tail at a tailgate. If the Gators take another loss, the calls for a change in Gainesville will become deafening.
Missouri 37, Vanderbilt 28
Why Should I Care: The Tigers (4-4) got a much-needed victory in Nashville Saturday by scoring enough against the Commodores to let their much-maligned defense hang on for a victory. It wasn’t an impressive win, but alas it was a win. Star back Tyler Badie had a whopping 254 yards on the ground for Mizzou.
Vandy (2-7) is fighting with everything in them. Coach Clark Lea will not let the Dores quit regardless of the score. I respect that so much. They’re just not equipped to win tough games in the SEC physically and in their depth chart. But give Lea time. He will turn the ship, literally.
Week 10 Predictions
Last week, the Backwoods Swami went 9-2. For the season, I am 81-12 (.870).
Let’s forecast Week 10 in the SEC, along with the Sun Belt (aka Fun Belt) and Texas and Oklahoma.
- Missouri at Georgia
- LSU at Alabama
- Auburn at Texas A&M
- Liberty at Ole Miss
- Tennessee at Kentucky
- Mississippi State at Arkansas
- Florida at South Carolina
- Georgia State at Louisiana
- Appalachian State at Arkansas State
- UL Monroe at Texas State
- South Alabama at Troy
- Coastal Carolina at Georgia Southern
- Texas at Iowa State
- Oklahoma- OPEN
Week Nine Rankings
- Texas A&M
- Ole Miss
- Mississippi State
- South Carolina
Shane Shackleford is a regional sportswriter from Speedwell, TN. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the United States Basketball Writers of America. Shane is also a football color analyst for WRIL-FM 106.3 Sports in Pineville, KY, and is a member of the 13th Region Sports Media Network. He has written and published his first book “Bounce: A Basketball Love Story” which can be found on Amazon currently. You can find Shane on KySportsStyle.com, A Sea of Blue, The London Sentinel-Echo, The Corbin Times-Tribune, The Mountain Advocate, Harlan County Sports, and The Mountain Eagle. Contact Shane by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.