10 Things We Learned About the SEC in Week 6
Separation Saturday in the SEC provided more separation than most anticipated.
South Carolina blew out Georgia 35-7, and Florida took down an SEC West giant in LSU at home. Meanwhile, Alabama kicked back and enjoyed its bye week.
So what does this all mean moving forward? Has the power shifted from the SEC West to the SEC East? Is South Carolina now the team worthy of challenging Alabama?
Here's what we learned from SEC action in Week 6.
South Carolina Is the Second Best Team in the SEC
Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks have arrived.
In recent years, Spurrier has had really good teams at South Carolina, but the team he has this season is undoubtedly the best he's ever had. He has just as much talent minus the headaches caused by Stephen Garcia.
And for the time being, this group has to be considered the second best team in the SEC. After beating the "Dawg" out of Georgia, the Gamecocks now are in the driver's seat in the SEC East, and with Florida knocking off LSU, it's the Gamecocks who are the SEC's second best team.
Right now they're perceived to be that good, but are they good enough to win at LSU then turn right around and beat Florida in The Swamp? Talk about a brutal stretch.
Johnny Manziel Is Clutch
Clutch? Eh, you can go ahead and check that one off too.
It's hard not to love what you see while watching Johnny Manziel "man" the quarterback position.
Though Manziel and this Texas A&M team had a sloppy performance, they rallied together and scored 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. But guess who stole the show during that period?
With less than two minutes to play in the game and the Aggies down by four, Manziel dropped back and threw a beauty to Ryan Swope for the lead and the eventual game-winning touchdown. Manziel sure is something special.
The Power Has Shifted
The SEC East is doing their best Rage Against the Machine impression this season because they took the power back.
The SEC West won the previous three national championships and went into the season with three of the Top 10 teams in the nation. That's some well-deserved respect, and no one really challenged the rankings.
Not until the SEC East challenged it on the field, so far proving that the SEC East is much deeper and, dare I say, stronger than the SEC West this season.
Florida's 14-6 victory against LSU was just the icing on the cake, and now the SEC East boasts two teams that very well could challenge the SEC West in the SEC Championship Game. But hey, let's not get ahead of ourselves. A certain team named Alabama is still in that division.
Don't Kick to Ace Sanders
You think most would have already learned this by now, right?
Well apparently not because Georgia chose to continuously kick to Ace Sanders, and boy, did he ever make them pay.
Most notably, Sanders stuck the dagger in the Bulldogs in the first quarter on a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown.
At that point, the Gamecocks were up 21-0 and the life was completely sucked out of Georgia's sideline. The choice to kick to Sanders is questionable to say the least. Really, it's baffling why one would choose to kick to this man after what he did to Missouri earlier this season.
Arkansas CAN Play a Little Defense After All
Well, would you look at that—Arkansas does know how to stop the other team from scoring a multitude of points.
Color me shocked. Then again, not to be a Debbie Downer or anything, the team Arkansas prevented from scoring those points was Auburn.
This isn't exactly Geno Smith and West Virginia's offense, but Arkansas' defense has been playing bad enough to make them look that way. Surprisingly, though, that wasn't the case.
In fact, Arkansas' defense looked dashing for the most point, allowing just 321 total yards, forcing five turnovers and holding the Tigers to seven points. Because Arkansas fans have been through the ringer this season, let's throw Auburn's offensive woes to the side and blindingly give credit to this defense for playing well on the road.
Florida Is for Real
They're not complaining down in Florida anymore.
No sir, Will Muschamp has his Florida Gators playing smash-mouth football, and this team ultimately played more physical than LSU, who is thought to be one of the most physical teams in the league.
Dominant defense and a trampling rushing attack will get you far in this conference, and it's given the Gators a 5-0 start.
Florida's win against LSU is a statement to the entire league saying, "Hey, just in case you doubted if we were back, I don't think you'll doubt us any longer." Believers, we are, Muschamp. Believers, we are.
Mississippi State Isn't Playing Around
Dan Mullen's crew isn't playing down to their opponents.
Mississippi State is a feisty bunch that goes for the throat, and though the Bulldogs had two turnovers against Kentucky, they didn't drop a game on the road in the SEC.
This game could have been considered a trap game, and though Kentucky played well and pulled off an onside kick, Tyler Russell and his teammates took control of the game. Anytime Kentucky gained momentum, the Bulldogs were quick to recapture it, and that's what great teams do.
Yeah, winning 27-14 against Kentucky isn't going to impress a lot of people, but a win is a win anytime you travel in the SEC.
Mettenberger Proved Doubters Right
All of LSU's offensive woes shouldn't solely fall on Zach Mettenberger's shoulders. Injuries on the offensive line and the running back position have taken a toll on this team.
But with that said, Mettenberger didn't exactly show moxie in the loss to Florida. In fact, he didn't show any promise, and he's proving all of his preseason doubters correct.
Perhaps Mettenberger was all hype. His lack of awareness in the pocket, lack of mobility and inaccurate throws are too glaring to overlook. Because he's so unaware of his surroundings, it's almost like watching a really, really slow Jordan Jefferson drop back to throw.
It seems as if the Tigers will have to call plays to protect their weakness at quarterback for the remainder of the season. At least the fanbase is used to this by now, right?
Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall Are Human
Turns out Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley are human after all.
Going into the huge SEC East showdown against South Carolina, both backs combined for eight average yards per carry. Combined, I said! That's ludicrous when you really think about it.
But those average yards per carry were short-lived. South Carolina put a stamp on that stat in a big way. Gurley rushed 13 times for just 39 yards, while his partner in crime, Marshall, rushed 12 times for 37 yards. Both average out to about three yards per carry.
Now, both backs are combined for seven yards per carry on the season. It's astounding that the poor stats against South Carolina had such a small effect on their season averages.
Gene Chizik's Seat Is Officially HOT
Is it getting hot in here?
First of all, the believability of Gene Chizik being on the hot seat after losing to three ranked teams is a lot like justifying conspiracy theories involving UFOs. Come on, that's a tough sell for a guy who won a national championship two years ago.
Well, that was until Auburn played Arkansas last Saturday. How in the world does a team that allows an average of 500 plus yardage per game hold your team to 321 total yards? Better yet, how do they force five turnovers?
More importantly, how does a team as dysfunctional as Arkansas beat your team at home? Long gone are the days of Nick Fairley and Cam Newton, ay?