Three & Out: SEC Week 8 Preview

Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton

CFN SEC columnist Barrett Sallee shares three thoughts, comments or observations on what's going on this fall in the SEC.

Reach me via e-mail at or on Twitter @BarrettSallee

Three & Out appears every Sunday and Wednesday in 2010 to give you three SEC thoughts, news and notes. In today's edition, we take a look at Superman vs. the LSU defense, the Third (fourth) Saturday in October and the showdown for SEC East supremacy.

Do you hear that? That sound you hear is Cameron Newton all over the airwaves. The junior quarterback is on a full-fledged Heisman blitz following Saturday's electric performance in Auburn's shootout win over Arkansas. A repeat performance on Saturday vs. LSU will further entrench him as the front-runner in the Heisman Trophy race, and give his team a leg up in the round-robin battle for the SEC West Title.

That won't be easy though. LSU will bring the nation's third-best defense (242 ypg) into Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday afternoon with one mission in mind – stopping Newton.

"He puts anybody in a bind," LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard said in The Times Picayune. "I watch ESPN and see the highlights and he's on them every Sunday. It's going to be a very good showdown. Everybody's ready for this one."

Considering the NFL-talent littering LSU's defense, including Sheppard, cornerback Patrick Peterson and defensive lineman Drake Nevis, it's unlikely that Newton will be able to match his previous output. But for Auburn to win, he might just have to pop three or four big plays to get Auburn into a position to score. Even with its newfound passing game behind quarterback Jarrett Lee, LSU's not exactly an offensive juggernaut. If Auburn can get to 24 or 25 points, that might be all that's needed to emerge victorious Saturday afternoon.

That is, of course, assuming Auburn can find a pass defense – which is a whole other story line entirely.

Just one year ago, the Alabama/Tennessee game provided college football with a classic rivalry game, a fantastic finish and a signature moment in Alabama's run to a national title. Deemed the "Third Saturday In October" (even though it's now played on the fourth Saturday in the month), this matchup usually has divisional, conference and often national title implications for both teams.

This year...not so much.

Let's be honest, Alabama hasn't looked great lately. The Crimson Tide got "out-Alabama'd" by South Carolina and the offense has been mediocre for two straight weeks. With that said, this week's matchup vs. Tennessee should be the potion to cure what ails ya.

The Vols rank last in the SEC in total defense (381 ypg), 10th in scoring defense (27.5 ppg), ninth in pass defense (227 ypg) and ninth in rush defense (154 ypg). To put it simply, if the Crimson Tide can't right the ship this week, something's seriously wrong.

Yes, this is a rivalry game and you never know what will happen when two rivals get together. But this isn't the rivalry of year's past. It's not even the rivalry of last year. Alabama has developed a huge talent gap on the Vols at this point in time, and the Tide is a bit desperate. That doesn't bode well for the folks on Rocky Top.

If Vanderbilt tops South Carolina this weekend, the Commodores will be alone atop the SEC East standings.

Quit laughing. I'm serious.

The winner of Saturday night's matchup between the Commodores and Gamecocks will hold at least a one-game lead in the loss column over every other team in the SEC East. That's right, Vanderbilt – the same team that just got shutout 43-0 by a very average Georgia team – could have the inside track to Atlanta as we head into the final week of October.

Now that I've pointed that fact out, there's no way that the Gamecocks suffer let downs on consecutive weeks and erase any advantage that they gained in the SEC East race.

South Carolina will likely be without star running back Marcus Lattimore. The true freshman has racked up 538 rushing yards, 214 receiving yards and 12 total touchdowns (10 rush, 2 receiving) in his inaugural campaign in the SEC. His absence made a huge impact on the overall outcome of the game last week in South Carolina's 31-28 loss at Kentucky. But this is not like last week. The Gamecocks' coaching staff has a full week to prepare a game plan without him, so there's no chance that the "Chicken Curse" rears its ugly head two weeks in a row – especially against Vanderbilt.

But then again, it's South Carolina, so you just never know.

Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for He can be reached at, or on Twitter at @BarrettSallee

Don't forget to check out "Y'all Play Nice" from CFN's Russ Mitchell and Brian Harbach every Thursday during the season.

2010 Three & Out Archive
Three & Out – October 20, 2010
Three & Out – October 17, 2010
Three & Out – October 13, 2010
Three & Out – October 10, 2010
Three & Out – October 6, 2010
Three & Out – October 3, 2010
Three & Out – September 29, 2010
Three & Out – September 26, 2010
Three & Out – September 22, 2010
Three & Out – September 19, 2010
Three & Out – September 15, 2010
Three & Out – September 12, 2010
Three & Out – September 8, 2010
Three & Out – September 5, 2010
Three & Out – September 1, 2010
Three & Out – August 25, 2010
Three & Out – August 18, 2010
Three & Out – August 11, 2010
Three & Out – August 4, 2010
Three & Out – July 28, 2010
Three & Out – July 21, 2010
Three & Out – July 14, 2010
Three & Out – July 7, 2010
Three & Out – June 30, 2010
Three & Out – April 21, 2010
Three & Out – April 14, 2010
Three & Out – April 11, 2010
Three & Out – April 8, 2010
Three & Out – April 5, 2010
Three & Out – March 31, 2010
Three & Out – March 28, 2010
Three & Out – March 24, 2010
Three & Out – March 21, 2010
Three & Out – March 18, 2010
Three & Out – March 15, 2010
Three & Out – March 11, 2010
Three & Out – March 5, 2010
Three & Out – March 2, 2010

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