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 the Saban Bowl, South Carolina stumbling down the stretch and how Heisman front-runner Cam Newton handled himself under the microscope.
MAD HATTER AT IT AGAIN
With everyone overlooking LSU and assuming that Alabama would cruise into the Iron Bowl with one-loss and in contention for a spot in the BCS National Championship Game, LSU head coach Les Miles pulled another rabbit out of his rather large hat.
Down one on Alabama's 26-yard line with 9:51 to play, LSU called timeout to draw up a play on fourth-and-1 that could decide the outcome of the game. Everyone on the planet had the sense that something dramatic was about to happen, and Miles didn't disappoint.
Deangelo Peterson took a reverse pitch from running back Stevan Ridley 23-yards to convert the first down, setting up Ridley's 1-yard touchdown run that would give the Tigers a lead that they would never relinquish. It's just another bullet on Miles' resume that contains more gutsy calls than there are rabbits in that hat.
While Miles' fourth down call will be the play that everybody talks about, the game was really won by – wait for it – the LSU offense. The Tiger offense has been a major sore spot this season, but on Saturday, they steamrolled Alabama to the tune of 433 total yards. Jordan Jefferson – you know, LSU's non-throwing quarterback – completed 10-of-13 passes for 141 yards and one touchdown.
Les Miles takes a lot of heat from all over the country, including from yours truly. But they guy finds ways to win football games, even though he sometimes takes a circuitous route to get there. His team is still alive and kicking in the SEC and National Championship race, but will need a lot of help to get to either.
THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE
Remember about a month ago, when the criticism of South Carolina was, "yeah, they look strong now, but they'll falter again down the stretch?" Don't look now, but it may be happening again.
The Gamecocks were thoroughly whipped at home Saturday night by the Greg Childs-less Arkansas Razorbacks, 41-20, in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated.
What does it mean for South Carolina? Well, technically nothing. With Florida's win earlier in the day, all the Gamecocks have to do is beat the Gators in the Swamp next weekend to clinch a spot in the SEC Championship Game. But you can't coach confidence, and the Gamecocks have to be lacking in that department after Saturday's debacle.
Since upsetting then-No. 1 Alabama on October 9, the Gamecocks have lost to Kentucky, looked less-than-average in a win over Vanderbilt, had to battle against lowly Tennessee and been blown out at home by Arkansas. Amazingly, they still control their own destiny in the SEC East, but it's going to take a lot for this team to go on the road and beat Florida with everything on the line.
Last Thursday, a story (which was full of holes) surfaced that a man claiming that he represented Auburn quarterback Cam Newton said that it would take $180,000 to get Newton to sign with Mississippi State last November. Auburn has known about this situation since July, and considering Newton has remained eligible throughout the entire process, the school seems comfortable with its position.
So how did Newton handle himself now that the story is out there? Not so bad really.
Final line in Auburn's 62-24 win over Chattanooga: 15-of-21, 317 passing yards, 24 rushing yards, four passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown – in one half.
Yeah, it was against Chattanooga, so he was bound to have solid numbers. But considering he's become the subject of rampant and often presumptuous scrutiny over the last few days, it was interesting to see how he handled himself on Saturday. After the game, Newton appeared to be the same guy that he's been all season long.
"When God be blessin', the devil be messin'," said Newton.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at email@example.com, 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