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 Auburn's dominant performance, Georgia's turnaround and something that I never thought that I'd say in October.
Auburn came into Saturday's matchup looking to make a statement against LSU – the SEC's No. 1 defense. Auburn dominated the game from the opening kickoff to the final gun, despite the 24-17 final score.
But don't be fooled by detractors saying that Auburn is a one-man show behind Heisman front-runner Cameron Newton, because the Tigers are anything but. Sure, Newton's record-setting, 217-yard rushing performance against LSU was mighty impressive; but he had plenty of help Saturday afternoon as No. 4 Auburn ran over, around and through No. 6 LSU.
Freshman running back Mike Dyer had 100 yards, changeup tailback Onterio McCalebb had the game-winning 70-yard touchdown run with 5:05 to play and defensive tackle Nick Fairley – who is making a big case for SEC Defensive Player of the Year – had 2.5 sacks and terrorized LSU quarterbacks Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee all game long. All three of those guys played a major role in Auburn's win over the Bengal Tigers.
Don't get me wrong, Newton is the straw that stirs the drink on The Plains, but the Tigers have a lot of guys on the roster that contribute as well. Without Newton, would Auburn be undefeated? Probably not. But the same can be said if you take guys like Dyer, McCalebb, Fairley and Josh Bynes off the roster too.
BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN
Remember a month ago when Georgia was left for dead following an embarrassing loss on the road to the hapless Colorado Buffaloes? My, how things have changed.
Some Georgia fans were the declaring the Bulldogs "back" after dominating wins over Tennessee and Vanderbilt the last two weeks. While that talk was a bit premature, the Bulldogs' thorough beat-down of Kentucky on the road Saturday night should solidify them as "back" – at least by SEC East standards.
With running back Caleb King serving the final game of his two-game suspension, Washaun Ealey, who had been stricken with a case of fumbilitis for the first half of the season, got things cooking in Lexington, running for 157 yards and a school-record five touchdowns in the 44-31 win. Just like in the Auburn/LSU game, don't be fooled by the relatively close final score. Georgia dominated this game from the outset – building a 28-3 lead on the Wildcats mid-way through the second quarter before putting it on cruise-control.
Is Georgia back in the SEC race? Yes. Sure, the Bulldogs will have to upend Florida and Auburn and get some help to even have a chance. But after Saturday's thrashing of Kentucky on the road, there's no doubt that the Bulldogs are playing the best football in the SEC East right now.
It's amazing how much of a difference having A.J. Green on the field makes.
In mid-August, if you would have told me that I was about to write the next sentence at this point of the season, I would have told you to check in to the nut house. Mississippi State is bowl eligible a week before Halloween.
The Bulldogs certainly didn't look pretty in securing their sixth win of the season, barely scraping by the UAB Blazers Saturday night 29-24; but it's not the score that's important – it's the direction that head coach Dan Mullen has this program going. A New Years Day (by traditional measures) bowl game for this program would be a huge step in the right direction and would solidify the program as a legitimate contender in the tough SEC West. Keep in mind, Mullen is having success this season with a roster that is only half-full of players that were recruited for his system. Once he gets a roster full of his guys, Mississippi State is going to be a very good team.
With Auburn squarely in the National Championship race, it's going to be hard for anyone to compete with Gene Chizik in the SEC Coach of the Year debate. But Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen is certainly doing his best to make a debate out of it.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at
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