Outside of Alabama and Missouri, there’s uncertainty about how much of the conference shapes up. Some of that should change, based on these four games:
- Tennessee – Florida
- LSU – Mississippi State
- Kentucky – South Carolina
- Kansas State – Vanderbilt
Florida’s gotten an unexpected bye week to prepare for the Vols, and based on what we saw against Michigan, the Gators needed it. One question there is whether the suspensions continue. [UPDATE: They will, apparently.]
Mississippi State has played weak opposition, but Bill Connelly notes that the Bulldogs have still managed to punch considerably above their S&P+ weight. They’re at home and getting almost seven points against an LSU team that’s looked better than I thought.
Here’s what Matt Melton has to say about the third game:
Is South Carolina the most statistically unimpressive 2-0 FBS team? No way. Take a look at the overall numbers for Illinois or Old Dominion. However, the Gamecocks are the probably the most statistically unimpressive 2-0 team with a pair of legitimate wins. The Gamecocks have beaten a pair of Power Five opponents away from home despite being outgained by over 300 total yards and despite averaging nearly half a yard fewer per snap than their opponents. How have they done this? They have pretty much run the board in ‘The Little Things Bingo’. The Gamecocks have returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, have a turnover margin of +4, and have stopped their opponents three on fourth down. While it is possible to walk this tight rope for a full season (hell my alma mater did it in 2006), expecting it to continue is a good way to be disappointed. Teams will eventually stop kicking to Deebo Samuel and for a few games here and there, the turnover margin will probably swing the other way. This team feels like a lite version of Muschamp’s second Florida team. The defense is not nearly as good, but the passing game is better. That Florida team was able to skate by all season on middling per play numbers, but then 2013 happened. The bill usually comes due. Anyway, while that Florida team was able to keep winning all year, they were not very good against the number as a favorite, posting a 3-5 ATS mark in the role with two outright losses. Kentucky has flown under the radar in the early going with less than impressive wins against Southern Miss and Eastern Kentucky. However, Kentucky has actually won the last three games in this series despite being an underdog twice and the Gamecocks have only covered once against the Wildcats since 2009 (the first game after Stephen Garcia was dismissed in 2011). Look for more of the same this week. South Carolina may move to 3-0, but the Wildcats will put up a fight.
That’s a good point about the resemblance to Boom’s 2012 Gator team, except that team actually beat some really tough opposition. In that regard, the jury is still out on South Carolina. That being said, I’ve seen nothing out of Kentucky so far that impresses me.
As far as Kansas State and Vandy go, that’s an interesting cross-conference meeting. I’ve made a note about Shurmur’s hot start, but Matt notes that Ralph Webb’s start hasn’t been nearly so impressive, particularly when you consider the opposition. He’s not kidding; right now, Webb’s 2.78 ypc ranks 37th in the SEC. Is Shurmur thriving because defenses are keying on Webb?
What are y’all’s thoughts?