The Dirty Dozen – Week 7
Major Reisman: “Seven”
Team: “Wladislaw throws the hook to heaven”
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. For the teams we’ve already played, I’ll look at how they performed with their remaining opponents in relation to their game against the Tigers.
There were a lot of close calls by the Dirty Dozen this week. But none were as close or exciting as the two in the state of Mississippi. Both went down to the last second. Elsewhere around the league there were some expected blowouts, and a surprise reordering of top teams in the SEC East. Auburn cracked the nation’s top 25 and contributed to an unprecedented eight SEC teams in the AP poll, doubling the amount of any other conference represented (ACC, PAC-12, Big-12). Incredibly, the Big 10 only has one representative, no more than the MAC and Mountain West. Each of those eight SEC teams has a legitimate shot at playing in Atlanta in December, including Auburn.
If Auburn reaches their full potential this year it will be a most impressive and unprecedented turnaround for any SEC team in history. I believe Gus Malzahn may have a Bear Bryant trophy on his desk by the end of the year. They might as well throw the Broyles trophy at Ellis Johnson while they’re at it. If our hopes are realized, I can’t imagine two more deserving coaches in all of college football.
Keep in mind the comments are for the OPPOSING team, and only serve as a vehicle for commenting on them, not necessarily our team.
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?
Escape from Ole Miss Edition
Western Carolina at Auburn (no line) Auburn 62 – WCU 3
RATING: !! – Just another record setting day at Jordan Hare Stadium
OFFENSE: Mostly ineffective, but it was nice to see a Sullivan playing quarterback in Jordan Hare again, even if he was out of uniform.
DEFENSE: Completely outgunned and overwhelmed by the Auburn run game, but the team never quit. There aren’t many moral victories in football, but there is something to be said about the Catamounts playing hard to the end.
KEY STAT: 0 punts for Auburn. The Tigers couldn’t help scoring, even with third stringers
COMMENTS: Good luck to the Catamounts. I hope they win another this year.
Oregon State at Washington State (1 point favorite) OSU 52 – WSU 24
RATING: ?? - The Cougars stunk it up late in the game.
OFFENSE: For three quarters, Connor Halliday played well running the WSU offense and keeping his team within a touchdown of a fast Beaver team. He then fumbled on a sack and threw three interceptions inside his own 30 yard line in the span of about four minutes.
DEFENSE: Still vulnerable to passes over the middle, but stopped Oregon State’s run game adequately, until it all blew up in the fourth quarter.
KEY STAT: Four turnovers in a span of just six WSU plays from scrimmage
COMMENTS: I bet it’s tough being a Cougar fan this year. Brilliantly stunning games are inevitably followed by impossible meltdowns. Rumor has it the favorite drink among fans in Pullman is a neat Crimson and Grey Bull Goose – straight 50/50 Red Bull and Grey Goose Vodka. You chug them as fast as you can until you either pass out or your heart explodes. Both are merciful alternatives than having to watch the highs and lows of this team from week to week.
Idaho at Arkansas State (24 point favorite) ASU 48 – Idaho 24
RATING: ! – A solid win
OFFENSE: Dominated early (first play was an 80 yard pass for a TD), and kept up a strong passing attack supplemented by enough of a run game to keep them honest. The game was never in doubt
DEFENSE: Still susceptible to the run, but contained the Vandal pass offense with good deep protection and a decent pass rush.
KEY STAT: 37% pass completion rate for Idaho quarterback Taylor Davis
COMMENTS: The last out of conference game for ASU. Next week the Red Wolves return to their race for a third straight Sun Belt title.
Bowling Green at Miss State (11 point favorite) MSU 21 – BG 20
RATING: !! – The Falcons made it interesting
OFFENSE: The two headed monster escapes again. Russell was near perfect when he was in, and Prescott averaged 9 yards on every run, passing just enough to keep the Falcon defense guessing. Perkins was effective in a limited role (15 carries, 83 yards), but MSU never seemed to string it all together consistently to put the Falcons away. Scored all 21 points in the first half
DEFENSE: Had a hard time getting off the field in the second half. Ball State kept the ball for an extraordinary amount of time but only scored once to pull within one. MSU finally stepped up to stop Ball State’s pass attack in the fourth.
KEY STAT: Zero punts in the fourth quarter. A missed field goal and the other four possessions (two for each team) ended on downs.
COMMENTS: Way too close for comfort. Only a missed field goal and some questionable fourth down tries kept this from being an embarrassing upset of an SEC team by a mid-tier MAC opponent.
Florida at LSU (8 point favorite) LSU 17 – UF 6
RATING: !! – A textbook game against a ranked opponent.
OFFENSE: While Mettenberger proved to be human after all and struggled, Hill was his usual dominant self as he rumbled through the SEC’s # 1 rush defense for 121 yards on 19 carries. Time and again, LSU made first downs on the strength of their run game and extended critical drives.
DEFENSE: Harried and hurried Tyler Murphy all day, keeping the Gators out of the endzone and well below his usual completion rate. The Florida run game was hammered at the line of scrimmage and stuffed for only 111 yards all game. Florida managed to get to the red zone four times, but were limited to just two field goals. Outstanding effort.
KEY STAT: 4 sacks, 8 tackles for a loss
COMMENTS: Used a dominant defense and a well established run game supplemented by a opportunistic passing attack to secure a two score win over a quality top ten ranked team. You can’t ask for a better verification than that for the Division’s best team. LSU is still the team to beat in the SEC West.
Texas A&M at Ole Miss (7 point underdog) TAMU 41 – Ole Miss 38 – Ole Miss comments
RATING: !!! – Best game of the week
OFFENSE: Surprisingly not as effective as I thought they would be. The Ole Miss run game was curiously not a factor. Half of the carries came from Brunetti on keepers and Wallace on broken plays or scrambling for yardage after being flushed. It’s like Hugh Freeze was determined to beat Texas A&M through the air, which kind of limited the mystery of what each quarterback would do – Wallace would pass, Brunetti would hand off or run a zone read. It didn’t seem sensible to broadcast intentions so broadly like that. A curious lack of deception for such a critical game.
DEFENSE: Two things to note: 1) The initial Rebel pass rush on Manziel and coverage blanket were superb. There was a distinct disruption of the normal TAMU offensive plays. 2) Containment of Manziel within the pocket was terrible. Time and again he ran free for big yards and first downs after being flushed, or simply ran around in the backfield until someone got open and then threw completions to them. Frustrating and exhausting to the Rebel defense, that became a critical factor late in the game.
KEY STAT: 6 plays, 56 yards on the last drive by TAMU to set up the winning field goal against a gassed Ole Miss defense. You must be in top condition to run down Johnny Football late in the game.
COMMENTS: Oh so close! Ole Miss had TAMU down for the count and let the game slip through their fingers on those last two scoring drives. Otherwise, they didn’t do half bad in controlling the game and the scoreboard until the last possible moment for Manziel to slither through and win. Stupendous man, indeed.
Texas A&M at Ole Miss (7 point favorite) TAMU 41 – Ole Miss 38 – TAMU comments
RATING: !!! – Impossible to look away
OFFENSE: Really struggled until the mid third to fourth quarters. Manziel was on target but the run game suffered until relatively late in the game. Ole Miss had generally good coverage early on plays, but the combination of Manziel’s scrambling and some excellent catches by his receivers allowed TAMU to still post big numbers.
DEFENSE: Probably the best game by the TAMU defense so far. Was able to stuff the run game better than they have all year, but they were still a sieve over the middle. TAMU ran a lot of zone defense and Wallace was able to hit his receivers repeatedly in the seams.
KEY STAT: First game of the year with no TAMU passing touchdowns.
COMMENTS: Manziel is still the key to this offense. Without him, TAMU is just another spread team with a poor defense. With him loose out of the pocket they win games. It is as simple (hypothetically, at least) as that. Contain Stupendous Man, and the game is winnable.
Marshall at Florida Atlantic (13 point underdog) Marshall 24 – FAU 23
RATING: !! – A hard fought game, given away at the end
OFFENSE: FAU actually had difficulty putting together drives early on, but started to get first downs in the second half behind a stout run game and pulled ahead by two scores early in the fourth quarter. However, with the game on the line, they faded just out of field goal range and had to punt, leaving a six point game in the hands of their defense.
DEFENSE: Decent until they were needed and then opened up the field for two long scoring drives late in the game. Not sure who was calling defensive sets for the Owls. Helen Keller, apparently.
KEY STAT: Gave up 77 yards on just six plays on the last drive.
COMMENTS: Had the game in the bag late in the fourth quarter, nursing a six point lead. Marshall was pinned inside their own 10 ten yard line with only two minutes on the clock and no time outs. So of course FAU proceeded to stop the clock twice by committing a costly penalty and then call their own time out (!!) due to substitution delays. They then gave up two huge plays to put Marshall within range of a last second field goal. I’m surprised they didn’t lay down on the last play in an effort to allow the kicker a clear shot or attach a bow to the game ball.
South Carolina at Arkansas (6 point underdog) USC 52 – Arkansas 7
RATING: ? – Humiliating Bret Bielema is fast becoming a favorite hobby for SEC coaches
OFFENSE: Arkansas looked confident and competent on their first drive for a score, and afterwards earned only a single first down on their own until the fourth quarter, when they got only two more. When they didn’t punt, they turned the ball over. A full and complete collapse of the Hawg offense.
DEFENSE: Surrendered over 277 yards rushing and 260 yards passing. Simply could not stop the South Carolina offense except for a single punt in the second quarter. A pitiful display of ineptitude by an SEC West team.
KEY STAT: 30 yards passing on only 4 receptions for the Hawgs.
COMMENTS: It doesn’t get any easier for Bielema. There are three more ranked teams on the SEC West schedule, and two of them are on the road. They are in a three way race to the basement of the division with the two Mississippis. That just might be the only thing the Hawgs win the rest of the year.
Tennessee – BYE
KEY STAT: N/A
COMMENTS: Preparing for their nightmare stretch – Battling a surging South Carolina in a suddenly close race in the SEC East, followed by trips to Tuscaloosa and Missouri before hosting the Tigers in Knoxville. Butch Jones will have his hands full for the next month.
Missouri at Georgia (9 point favorite) Missouri 41 – UGA 26
RATING: ? – A dyslexic Viking Ragnarok – Twilight of the Dogs
OFFENSE: Aaron Murray’s worst game of the year, and it was bad. A 55% completion rate, a fumble scooped up for a touchdown and two costly interceptions late in the game. Georgia couldn’t seem to get out of their own way early and had to come from two touchdowns down to within two points in the fourth before disintegrating. Except for one big run of 57 yards by Freshman JJ Green, the Georgia run game hasn’t been the same since Gurley was hurt. With the Dawgs unable to run the ball, Missouri simply rushed three or four and dropped seven or eight into an airtight zone.
DEFENSE: Could not stop a mobile Franklin from running up the score with his arm or his legs. Even with him out of the game, the UGA defense still gave up a surprising amount of yardage late in the game.
KEY STAT: 4 turnovers by Georgia, costing them 14 points in addition to ending their last drive of the game.
COMMENTS: A lot is being made of the Dawgs not making the BCS title game, but with their remaining SEC schedule against Florida, Auburn and Vandy, Georgia might slide entirely out of the top 25 and struggle to play a New Year’s Day bowl game. Shreveport is not the place you want to visit after dreaming about Pasadena, but that might be as far west as Georgia goes in the bowl season.
Alabama at Kentucky (28 point favorite) Alabama 48 – UK 7
RATING: ?? – I hear Kentucky has a basketball team,…
OFFENSE: Overpowering. Ran and passed as if they were playing a real football team with uniforms and everything. Kentucky has some quality players on defense, and had they played in the game we certainly would have noticed.
DEFENSE: Crushingly good. Stuffed and smothered the Kentucky offense to under 170 yards for the entire game, Kentucky’s second worst total for the year (Florida was slightly better at stopping the Wildcats).
KEY STAT: 1 punt by Alabama
COMMENTS: Looking at the score, it’s hard to remember that Alabama’s first four drives ended in a punt, two fumbles and a field goal. Every other possession but one was a touchdown. None of the problems that plagued this team early in the season seemed evident after the first quarter, but Kentucky has a gift of making teams look fantastic.
But we’ve got another team to worry about this week. Take heart, Auburn fans. Don’t sweat the Tigers dealing with Stupendous Man this coming week. I’m pretty sure Gus and Ellis are planning something special for him when he gets home.
Trivia Note: Sorry guys, no trivia from the movie this week. Once I remembered these two Bill Watterson clips from his hilarious comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, there was no way I could avoid using them.