The week 10 wrap up edition of Three & Out focuses on the replay debacle in Tuscaloosa, the turnaround in Knoxville and a team to watch in November.
THE SEC CONSPIRACY GROWS
The story line in the LSU vs. Alabama game was supposed to be the battle for SEC West supremacy. It was supposed to be about two tough teams, fighting through injuries and stellar defenses, to give the fans an instant classic. Instead, it turned into another chapter in the growing conspiracy theory that's been brewing this season in the SEC.
Down six with 5:54 to play, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson stepped in front of a Greg McElroy pass and clearly got one (if not two) feet down with possession of the football. The play was ruled as an incomplete pass, but there was more than enough video evidence to prove that Peterson caught the ball and had possession with at least one foot in bounds. After several minutes of review, it was determined that the ruling on the field stood. No interception. What everyone with a functioning television set thought they saw, didn't actually happen.
SEC conspiracy theorists unite.
To be clear – the call didn't cost LSU the game. If the interception had counted, the Tigers would still have had to march down the field and find the end zone with Jarrett Lee taking the snaps against one of the nation's best defenses. But Peterson earned them that shot. Gerald Hodges, listed as the the replay official of the game, robbed them of that shot.
A growing theory in SEC-land is that the league's desire is to have undefeated Alabama and undefeated Florida square off in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, Ga. I don't buy into the theory. I've argued against the theory. But when the final stat line in the LSU vs. Alabama game says that the visitors have twice as many penalties for more than double the amount of penalty yards and a huge non-call on an blatantly obvious interception, it makes my argument pretty difficult. Florida and Alabama have both been on the good end of incorrect and obvious calls at critical times in close games this season.
If Les Miles doesn't get fined this week for criticizing officials, I will be very disappointed. He has every right to criticize after his team was robbed of the opportunity to win the SEC West by the SEC replay official. Something tells me that if he does earn himself a fine, he won't be coming out of pocket to pay it. A simple passing of the hat among LSU fans would more than cover the expense.
For the better part of his career with Tennessee, Jonathan Crompton has been a lightning rod for criticism. The senior came to Knoxville as a highly touted recruit from Waynesville, N.C., and was supposed to step right in for Eric Ainge in 2008. That didn't happen.
Crompton suffered through a tumultuous 2008 that saw him compete just over half of his passes and throw more interceptions (5) than touchdowns (4). It didn't get much better in September of 2009, as Crompton threw eight interceptions in four games to start the Lane Kiffin era.
Then came October. Since the Vols squared off with Auburn the first week of October, Crompton has thrown 16 touchdowns and only two interceptions, including five touchdowns in Saturday's 56-28 romp over hapless Memphis. Crompton now ranks second in the SEC behind Arkansas' Ryan Mallett, averaging 216 passing yards per game.
Part of the reason that Lane Kiffin was brought into Knoxville was to breathe new life into a Vols offense that had grown stagnant under the Phil Fulmer regime. If Crompton's mid-season turnaround is any indication, Kiffin's mission is well on its way to being completed.
QUIETLY MAKING NOISE
If you look at the record, you probably wouldn't be too impressed with Arkansas this season. The Razorbacks sit at 5-4 overall and 2-4 in SEC play this season. But, don't let the record fool you, Arkansas is a good football team that has been victimized by a brutal in-conference schedule. Two of the Razorbacks four losses are on the road against No. 1 Florida and No. 3 Alabama.
The vaunted Arkansas offense was at it again on Saturday, torching a very good South Carolina defense, with the help of 329 passing yards from quarterback Ryan Mallett, en route to a 33-16 win over the Gamecocks in Fayetteville. The win moves the Razorbacks to within one game of bowl eligibility in head coach Bobby Petrino's second season with the Hogs.
Arkansas entered the season with a ton of returning talent, which had several pundits saying that they'd be a sleeper team in the SEC this season. With what their offense is capable of putting up on any given day, they aren't a sleeper anymore. With games against Troy and Mississippi State on the docket in the coming weeks, the Razorbacks should get to at least seven wins. With the way they've played against LSU in recent years, don't be surprised to see them spring an upset in Baton Rouge the last week of the season and get to eight. That would be a huge accomplishment for Bobby Petrino's squad considering the schedule.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at
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