Major Reisman: “Thirteen”
Team: “Franko goes up without being seen”
The Dirty Dozen looks at the games that Auburn’s opponents play throughout the season, highlighting points of interest, tendencies and potential issues for their upcoming game with Auburn.
The thirteenth week of football was a bye for Auburn, but proved to be a significant one due to the turmoil in the BCS standings. Both Oregon and previously unbeaten Baylor stumbled badly in important games, significantly raising Auburn’s BCS status and the stakes in the already all-important game against Alabama in the Iron Bowl. The Dirty Dozen reached some milestones as well, as one of the most intriguing seasons in both the SEC and the NCAA comes to a close.
Grading for the games remains as always
!!! – Best game of the week
!! – Surprisingly good
! – Average to good
? – Why am I watching this?
?? – Who would watch this?
??? – What the hell am I watching?
ER = Efficiency Rating (see Cafe Malzahn )
The SEC East – Always good for a laugh Edition
Auburn (10-1 ER:18) – Bye
KEY STAT: N/A
COMMENTS: A timely bye week to heal some bumps and bruises and to prepare for the ever important Iron Bowl
Utah (4-6) at Washington State (5-5) WSU 49 – Utah 37
RATING: ! ! – The Cougars become Bowl eligible in a shootout
OFFENSE: 488 yards passing would be exceptional for any quarterback, but it suffices for only the third best total for Connor Halliday in 2013. Since he didn’t throw an interception, however, it makes for his best day’s work all season. Marcus Mason added 86 yards on ten carries at key moments, but it was all Halliday in a shootout of a game.
DEFENSE: Surrendered nearly 500 yards, but with two early pick-six interceptions, it’s difficult to fault this defense too much as it gave the Cougars an incredible advantage that the Utes never overcame.
KEY STAT: 1059 yards of combined offense by both teams
COMMENTS: Halliday’s first game of the season without an interception. If the Cougars can manage a win over rival Washinton, they will be in a position for a fairly decent bowl game – either the Sun or Las Vegas.
Georgia State (0-10) at Arkansas State (6-4) ArSt 35 – GaSt 33
RATING: ?? – A poorly played win
OFFENSE: After an easy two play first possession touchdown, the Red Wolves managed only one other scoring drive from their own side of the field the entire game. Every other score was via a turnover by Georgia State. Adam Kennedy was efficient passing the ball, but except for a few big plays, Arkansas State never seemed to put anything together the entire game.
DEFENSE: Two touchdowns directly off of turnovers, and a third resulting in a first down inside the red zone. It would have been four scores, except for a mishandled interception ala Mark Ingram in the 2010 Iron Bowl (punched out from behind for a touchback). Otherwise, the Red Wolves surrendered nearly as many yards as they did to Auburn – but to a winless doormat of the Sun Belt conference rather than a BCS contender. Very shoddily played.
KEY STAT: 1-12 on third down conversions, and 1-3 on 4th downs.
COMMENTS: A win is a win, but that was one of the worst played games by the Red Wolves all season. If it weren’t for the turnovers gifted to them by Ga State, it would have been a very ugly late season upset.
Mississippi State (4-6 ER: 7) at Arkansas (3-7 ER: 1) MSU 24 – Ark 17
RATING: ! – A first time win in the state of Arkansas
OFFENSE: Had trouble early making headway against a tough playing Arkansas defense, and fell behind 10-0, but a late field goal and a picture perfect pass by Tyler Russell to LaDarius Perkins evened it at 10 by halftime. A missed field goal in regulation and a late injurty to Tyler Russell left MSU with their third string quarterback in OT, but a simple handoff netted the game winning touchdown on the first play.
DEFENSE: Played tough despite giving up over 200 yards of rushing, and pitched a shutout when it counted in overtime to preserve the win. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective.
KEY STAT: Arkansas was 0-2 on fourth down conversions, the last in overtime.
COMMENTS: Believe it or not, MSU still has a chance at a bowl game if they can win this week’s Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving Day. Not saying it will happen, but I wouldn’t count out the Bulldogs making it interesting.
Texas A&M (8-2 ER:15) at LSU (7-3 ER:14) LSU 34 – TAMU 10
RATING: !!! – A dominant win
OFFENSE: Played like the LSU team that I expected to win the SEC West this year. A brutally efficient run game supplemented by timely passing that ground out 500+ yards the hard way. If anything, penalties made this game even closer than it actually was. A Tiger runaway.
DEFENSE: Shut down the vaunted TAMU offense and contained Johnny Manziel the best of any team this season. Blanketed the field and kept tight coverage on the very talented TAMU recievers, intercepting Manziel twice and limited TAMU to a single touchdown. A remarkable performance.
KEY STAT: Manziel completed only 39% of his passes.
COMMENTS: Where was this team two weeks ago? John Chavis dialed up the perfect game plan to stop Johnny Manziel, and Cam Cameron had the offense rolling along so well, it’s hard to remember they played so badly against Alabama just 14 days prior. This team’s play is impossible to predict or figure out. Les Miles must be responsible for more Las Vegas suicides than anyone else in history.
Missouri (9-1 ER:17) at Ole Miss (7-3 ER:9) MIZZ 24 – Miss 10
RATING: ! – Another disappointing Ole Miss collapse to a rated team
OFFENSE: Played well in the first half, but a blocked kick, an interception and some questionable play calling left Ole Miss with only 3 points out of four first half possessions. In the second half, after a brilliant opening scoring drive, went three and out for their remaining possessions except for their last that went over on downs in the red zone trying for a touchdown.
DEFENSE: Could not stop the Mizzou zone read or option plays. James Franklin looked sharp and the Ole Miss defense looked out of position on nearly every play. While not the Rebel’s worst performance, when you give up five yards per carry, it will be a long day for any defense.
KEY STAT: 1/3 in the red zone, for three points
COMMENTS: With Ole Miss playing poorly, and MSU playing tough and hoping for the post season, the Egg Bowl will likely be as tight a rivalry game as any other. I expect a close game that could go either way.
Western Carolina (2-9) at Appalacian State (3-8) AppSt 48 – WCU 27
RATING: ?? – Another humbling loss.
OFFENSE: Eddie Sullivan passed for over 200 yards and completed 22 of 41 passes, but took a while to get started. By the time the Catamounts were able to score late in the second quarter, they were already five scores down.
DEFENSE: Couldn’t stop the Mountaineer running game, which gashed the Catamounts for 7.5 yards per carry. App State quarterback Kameron Bryant added two touchdowns through the air as they scored early and often in a blowout.
KEY STAT: 3 turnovers for a +2 margin for WCU
COMMENTS: The Catamounts end their season 2-10 at the bottom of the Southern Conference. Offensively, they’ve shown improvement on the ground and in the throwing arm of Eddie Sullivan. Defensively, they are in need of significant work and athletes in all positions.
Texas A&M (8-2 ER:15) at LSU (7-3 ER:14) LSU 34 – TAMU 10
RATING: !!! – Frustrated and flummoxed by the LSU defense.
OFFENSE: Manziel didn’t make mistakes or play badly, but his timing was off and none of his usual tricks worked on the LSU defense. He was harried and pursued all day in his worse production day in two seasons.
DEFENSE: Gave up a ton of yards up the middle to a relentless LSU run game. Could not stop or even slow Terrence Magee as he piled on the yards. Jarvis Landry caught only four passes, but two were for middle range touchdowns.
KEY STAT: Two interceptions
COMMENTS: A nightmare game for Johnny Football, that likely knocked him out of the Heisman race and squelched any chance for a second tier bowl game. If TAMU loses to Missouri, their only hope is the Gator Bowl. Since they were expected to be a BCS at large team a little more than a month ago, this has got to be viewed as a disappointment.
New Mexico State (1-9) at Florida Atlantic (4-6) FAU 55 – NMSU 10
RATING: ! – FAU is rolling under interim coach Brian Wright
OFFENSE: A dominating performance of nearly 600 yards of balanced offense. FAU was hitting on all cylinders of their offensive game as they ran over the New Mexico State Aggies.
DEFENSE: Held the Aggies scoreless until the last 31 seconds of the first half and allowed only 3 points in the second. Shut down nearly every aspect of the New Mexico offense.
KEY STAT: Did not punt in the second half, even with their second string in.
COMMENTS: This is a different team than the one that played for Pelini. The best indication is their run defense before and after Pelini left. Before, the defense allowed over 5 yards per play. In the last three games without him they’ve averaged less than half that (2.49). Coincidence? I’d call it player confidence in the ‘Wright Stuff.’
Mississippi State (4-6 ER:7 ) at Arkansas (3-7 ER:1 ) MSU 24 – Ark 17
RATING: ! – Plenty of excitement
OFFENSE: Still running that pro style vanilla offense that garners first downs, but not touchdowns. Arkansas has moved the ball between the 20s on some average to good defenses, but miscues and the red zone continue to be a problem.
DEFENSE: Defensively, Arkansas seemed tough enough against MSU to win the game, allowing only two scores for five MSU trips to the red zone, but letting a running back scoot for 25 yards in overtime will never win a game.
KEY STAT: 0 tackles in overtime
COMMENTS: Close but no cigar for the Hawgs. Bielima had more than enough chances to win this game, but came up short each time. Last place in the SEC West is assured, with only a meat grinder of a game in Baton Rouge to look forward to. Anyone for pork sausage the day after Thanksgiving? There looks to be plenty available.
Vanderbilt (6-4 ER:5) at Tennessee (4-6 ER:4) Van 14 – UT 10
RATING: ??? – A turnover and penalty filled farce
OFFENSE: 3 Volunteer passes went for 50 total yards. 8 other completions resulted in a net of 3 yards. I don’t think a single screen pass made positive yardage. 4 run plays netted 60 yards. The other 41 yielded less than 3 yards, with none over 9 yards.
DEFENSE: Seemed to be effective in stopping the Commodores, but with the turnovers, penalties and otherwise comical play by Vandy, it’s hard to tell if this was a well played defensive game or not (or if that even mattered).
KEY STAT: 21 possessions by both teams: 4 scores, 10 punts, 7 turnovers.
Kentucky (2-8 ER:1) at Georgia (6-4 ER:10) UGA 59 – UK 17
RATING: ? – A sad end to an otherwise brilliant college career
OFFENSE: Overwhelming, even with the second and third string players in the second half. Georgia ran and passed with abandon against a struggling Kentucky defense.
DEFENSE: Likewise dominant throughout. Georgia had one less scoring drive than Kentucky had first downs in the game. A commanding performance that means absolutely nothing for Georgia’s bowl standings or season.
KEY STAT: One punt by Georgia
COMMENTS: You hate to see any player hurt like this, but losing someone like Aaron Murray in a throw away blowout is somehow more difficult to watch than if he was hurt in a hard fought loss. Only the accepted protocol of allowing a starter to play an entire half kept him in on that play. Five minutes later in the game and he would be safely on the bench. While it’s no one’s fault, it just seems a bit unfair that it should end this way for one of the greatest quarterbacks in Georgia and SEC history. Here’s hoping he recovers and is fully mended by the time of the NFL Combine.
Chattanooga (8-3) at Alabama (10-0 ER:28) UA 49 – Chat 0
RATING: ?? – Little more than a paid scrimmage
OFFENSE: Not much to comment on, Alabama played their starters only until the first drive of the second half, then substituted liberally to play their entire bench.
DEFENSE: A shutout of an FCS team that is looking for an at-large bid for the FCS playoffs. It’s more than the Gators can claim, but that’s not saying this was in any way a challenge for this team.
KEY STAT: Know which senior didn’t play a single snap? Punter Cody Mandell. Never stepped on the field of play past the pregame warm-up. Alabama just went for it on their three fourth down plays (and made one of them).
COMMENTS: “Easy win” is easy to write, but Florida’s game illustrates what happens when a team loses faith and/or discipline against an inferior opponent. Saban runs his team under a firm grip and they are very disciplined and capable. It’s highly unlikely they’ll be complacent at Auburn next week. For both teams, the Iron Bowl will likely be the biggest challenge all season.
There were a few surprising changes in the Efficiency Ratings of the various SEC teams. South Carolina bumped up five points by virtue of crossing three category lines on third down conversions, yards per play and scoring in a 70-10 rout of an FCS team. Likewise, Missouri improved by three in their victory over Ole Miss, whose ER dropped by one. Every other rise or drop were by one.
If you’re surprised about Florida’s stability on the chart, don’t be. It simply means the Gators played as badly as they have all season, so their numbers didn’t change all that much, despite an embarrassing loss to an FCS team. If you want to see their numbers change, watch what happens this weekend as the Seminoles visit the Swamp.
That is of course, if you can concentrate on any other game but “the big one”. By the way, don’t bother calling or dropping by the Sullivan house between 2 and 6 PM this Saturday. The phone will be off the hook, and the dogs will be banished to the yard.
Additionally, the generator is already topped off, and the tablet and 4G network drop are also fully charged and waiting. We’re not going to miss this one to something as simple as a power outage.
War Eagle! Beat Bama!
Trivia Note: John Cassavetes was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of PVT. Victor R. Franko. He lost to fellow Dirty Dozen actor George Kennedy (Major Max Armbruster) for his portrayal of Dragline in Cool Hand Luke.
In addition to acting, Cassavetes was also a talented director, screenwriter and early proponent of independent films, many of which he self financed.
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