The Vanderbilt Commodores got an unexpected BYE week this week with both Missouri and Vanderbilt struggling with outbreaks of COVID-19. It was the first SEC game of the year to be postponed (followed shortly after by Florida vs. LSU). Vanderbilt was said to not have the minimum 53 scholarship athletes available to play the game and thus the SEC made the decision to postpone. That is unfortunate for Vanderbilt as they had their best opportunity to date to notch their first (and maybe only) win of the season. They have two games back-to-back that are winnable, although they need some luck.
After another BYE week next week they get both teams from Mississippi back-to-back. Ole Miss’s high-powered offense is coming to town on Halloween followed by the suddenly inept Mississippi State Bulldogs. Ole Miss won’t be easy but the lack of defense by the Rebels gives Vandy a puncher’s chance. Mississippi State suddenly looks like a very winnable game (much to the chagrin of the LSU Tigers) and may be Vandy’s best chance to win a game. After Miss St. the schedule turns ugly. The next four are Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia. I don’t see Vandy being competitive in any of those four. They do close out the season with the Missouri Tigers which is another winnable game, but after being beat up by four very physical teams in a row, I don’t see Vanderbilt posting a win in 2020.
What in the heck has happened to the Mississippi State Bulldogs? They marched into Tiger Stadium on September 26 and looked like world-beaters. They broke SEC passing records while dropping 44 points on the defending national champs and embarrass them on their own field. KJ Costello looked like a Heisman contender and the Bulldogs were maybe the best contenders to Alabama football in the SEC West. We can safely say now, that game was an absolute fluke. The most exciting thing that has happened for the Mississippi State offense is probably the two protestors that interrupted the Texas A&M game (pictured above). Don’t fact check this, but I heard that Mike Leach has recruited to two young ladies to play RB and WR for the Dawgs as they managed to gain more yards in that game than the rest of the Mississippi State offense combined.
All joking aside, in the three games since that 44 points, 600+ yard passing game, the Bulldogs have managed a TOTAL of 30 points. That includes last week when they couldn’t even manage an offensive score of any kind against Kentucky. KJ Costello has looked less than pedestrian in those three games. Against LSU he was 36-60 for 623 yards 5 TDs and 2 INTs. Since then, he is 94-136 for 644 yards 1 TD and 8 INTs. He has been yanked in favor of Freshman QB Will Rogers in the last two games who hasn’t fared any better. Rogers has a mediocre stat line of 24-33 163 yards 1 TD and 2 INTs. Not exactly stellar QB play for the Dawgs.
Things are looking bleak in Starkville after another disappointing loss to Texas A&M this week where they were just not competitive. They get a BYE week next week before heading to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama football. The good news for the Bulldogs is, the Alabama football defense has been vulnerable in 2020. Do they have a QB that can throw the ball to their own receivers and not defenders though? Time will tell, but it could be a long season for Mississippi State.
Whoo boy! The Tigers got a stroke of luck this week in the form of a postponement of their showdown with the Florida Gators in The Swamp. Myles Brennan was injured and doubtful to play in the game before an outbreak of COVID-19 through Florida’s program forced the SEC’s hand. LSU was already struggling in 2020, especially on defense, and the fast-paced highly talented Florida offense was not going to make things any better for the defending champs. Although Florida’s defense has been suspect, the Tigers would have likely been starting a true freshman at QB on the road in their first ever game action at the collegiate level. That is a recipe for absolute disaster.
Brennan has been about the only bright spot for an otherwise busted season for LSU, and had he not been able to play… It could have gotten ugly in Gainesville. They get a winnable game at home next week against South Carolina before a game with Auburn on Halloween that might be dubbed “The Disappointment Bowl”. LSU and Auburn will be vying for the title of “Most Disappointing Team with a Tiger for a Mascot”. That game being on Halloween is perfect, because the losing coach might wish they were wearing a costume, and the respective school administrations might grant that wish.
Fans were appeased somewhat last season when Gus Malzahn pulled off the upset over Alabama football in the Iron Bowl, but the groans are picking up again. Tigers fans are getting restless and a coaching change might be coming sooner rather than later. The Tigers laid an egg on Saturday against South Carolina. That makes three weeks in a row that the Tigers have not played up to expectations and arguably four weeks in a row. It took a missed call by the officials against Arkansas to save Auburn from being 1-3 right now.
Bo Nix looks more and more frustrated every week. Some are beginning to question if he is talented enough to play in the SEC. His SEC passing ranks are 9th in yards, 14th in completion percentage, 13th in yards per attempt, 8th in TDs, T-11th in INTs, and 13th in QBR. It could be argued they have played good defenses, but eventually, if every team’s defense you play is holding you to lackluster numbers, it might mean you have a bad offense.
Not trying to give Auburn any help whatsoever, but why is Tank Bigsby only averaging 15 touches per game? He is the only thing going for the Tigers on offense and should be getting the ball at least 25 times per game if not 30. He is averaging over six yards-per-carry and 7.6 yards per reception. Give the man the ball! Auburn gets Ole Miss next week in what should be a very good game before the aforementioned “Disappointment Bowl” with LSU. The second half of the year is a murderer’s row and Auburn might be lucky to end the season at 4-6. That won’t be good enough to save Malzahn’s job. Although, the odd situation with the shortened season and his hefty buyout might buy him one more season.