(RNN) – Attention people who say SEC football is boring, you are now free to shut up.
Below is the weekly list of what we learned from watching SEC games in Week 10.
1. Alabama can be out-Alabama'd, but it still isn't enough to beat them.
LSU used a punishing running game, efficient and nagging passing game and a stout defense to hold Alabama to its worst production of the season. The Tigers (7-2, 3-2) outgained Alabama by more than 100 yards, held the Tide to 1-of-9 on third downs, Jeremy Hill became the first SEC running back to go over 100 yards on Alabama since Tennessee's Tauren Poole in 2010, won the turnover battle 2-0 and nearly doubled Alabama's time of possession.
So why did LSU still lose 21-17? Because even with that, Alabama was able to be Alabama. The Tide (9-0, 6-0) committed one penalty to LSU's seven, gained more yards on the ground than LSU and the Tigers missed two field goals. Additionally, LSU receivers had problems catching the ball in the first half, the defense couldn't take advantage of AJ McCarron's early miscues and failed twice on fourth downs in two questionable coaching decisions.
LSU converted on half of its third downs, but were in a third-down situation 20 times, which means the Tigers were dreadful on first and second down. In order to beat Alabama, you have to be flawless and allow them to make some mistakes.
Alabama made some mistakes, but LSU was far from flawless. Alabama's nationally top-ranked defense is no longer top-ranked, except in scoring. The Tide's passing defense fell to eighth, while its rushing and total defense both fell to second (each had been first) and AJ McCarron dropped from first to third nationally in passing efficiency.
If this whole coaching thing takes a turn for the worse, Les Miles could have a second career as a miner.
2. Georgia actually looked like a quality football team, except for a few seconds when every play in the game resulted in a turnover. Four turnovers happened in 1 minute. That was exciting (and by exciting we mean a complete indictment of what the game of football should be).
Georgia (8-1, 6-1) almost fumbled on a flea-flicker that was what we have no trouble calling the most poorly executed attempt at that basic trick play in the history of football. That's really not even a trick play anymore. It's such a common play now that it shouldn't be any harder to execute than a typical play-action pass.
Enough mocking. We're supposed to be talking about how good Georgia is. Aaron Murray came through with the type of game Bulldog fans expect from Murray every week. He threw for 384 yards and four touchdowns and spread the ball to 11 receivers, while Todd Gurley ran for 117 yards.
Georgia hasn't shown it can keep that up from week to week, so we're going to reserve further judgment until later. However, they could give Alabama a lot of problems should they meet for the SEC championship.
3. James Franklin (coach) should get an extension. Welcome to 1968. The last time Vanderbilt (5-4, 3-3) shut out an SEC team, Franklin, the current Commodores' coach, wasn't even born. It was in 1968, and he was born in 1972.
We're not sure if that makes Franklin a candidate for a lifetime contract, but by Vandy standards it's got to be getting pretty close. If you are unaware (and we're sure most of you are because Vanderbilt played Kentucky, and we didn't watch, either) the 'Dores beat Kentucky 40-0 and are on the verge of going to a bowl for the second straight year.
Yes, that score is correct. We double-checked. Kentucky was the '68 victim as well, losing 6-0. ***PAUSE FOR UPROARIOUS LAUGHTER*** You can't script this stuff.
For a few minutes, it was fun to be transported back to a world that heard Led Zeppelin (then called The New Yardbirds) for the first time, appreciated the quiet genius of The Beverly Hillbillies and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., revered John Wayne and Steve McQueen and had football teams that knew what a running game was. Sadly, that year's national champion was from the Big Ten (back when that name was appropriate).
Alas, though, we must return to our reality of reality shows, Twilight, Carly Rae Jepsen and the now-confusing Big Ten with 12 teams and Big XII with 10 teams (SWITCH YOUR NAMES, ALREADY!!).
At least the SEC wins championships now, but can we go back?
4. James Franklin (player) should be benched. Franklin looked like a deer in the headlights, and just like a deer, didn't do anything to get out of the way and at the last second ran into the middle of the street. (We know this not from the Discovery Channel, but because we have driven at night and witnessed firsthand that deer are stupid.)
Franklin threw four interceptions, including one at the goal line with five seconds left, in a 14-7 loss and preserved Florida's season with his incompetence. But shouldn't we have seen this coming? He does, after all, play for Missouri (ZING!!).
His back-up isn't any better, so just stop throwing (if you're keeping count, that's now six teams we've advised in this manner). Oh, wait. Missouri (4-5, 1-5) can't run, either. When does basketball season start?
And, oh, by the way, the ridiculousness of this shirt cannot be described.
5. Zach Mettenberger is a good quarterback. No one – including Zach Mettenberger – knew this until this week.
Mettenberger was 24-of-35 passing for 298 yards and a touchdown – that's 120 yards more than he was averaging entering the game. He was on target the entire game, but was let down by receivers in the first half.
LSU got exactly what it needed from Mettenberger, which was to feed off of a punishing rushing attack, and keep the defense honest and the offense balanced. Mettenberger was given a similar role to the one Alabama has given AJ McCarron and Mettenberger answered the call, much to the surprise of, well, everybody.
It did nothing to improve his statistical rankings, but his outing went a long way to earning him the coaches' trust and this is probably the start of something bigger – just like McCarron last year.
6. Mississippi State didn't watch game film this week. It's not like the Bulldogs (7-2, 3-2) didn't know who Johnny Manziel was. They couldn't have not known. He gains something like 975 yards a game, unless he faces top-notch defenses, then it's more like 265.
So how can a defense that considers itself to be good a). not tackle him, b). let him gain 440 yards (130 more than your entire team) and c). NOT FREAKING TACKLE HIM?
Inexplicable. It's pretty well-known at this point what Texas A&M's offense is: Can Johnny Football walk? Yes? Give him the ball.
It really is that simple. Why couldn't the Bulldogs stop it? We will refer you to last week's comment on the 'Dogs for that answer.
7. Tennessee is primed for a huge disappointment. Some people would say they already have one – their football team. We won't go there.
The Vols (4-5, 0-5) tried to lose to Troy, but pulled it out 55-48. That puts them two wins away from being bowl eligible. Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky are standing in the way. We're not saying that Tennessee won't win the games it needs, but we are saying that it isn't something we would bet on.
Missouri and Vanderbilt both are fighting for their postseason lives and Tennessee hasn't shown it has a defense worth talking about, so anything could happen. We're not real big on predictions, because we loathe being proven wrong, but we'll make one here: No one will be watching.
8. Kentucky will be looking for new coach. If you get shut out by Vanderbilt, you get fired. Sorry, but we don't make the rules.
The Wildcats (1-9, 0-7) close the season against Samford - which has six wins - and Tennessee. Kentucky is terrible and can only hope for one more win, if that. An SEC win is wishful thinking. Kentucky has always been a bit of joke, but never before have the Wildcats been so terrible that it's not even worth joking about them.
Firing Joker Phillips seems like the right thing to do and no one will fault Kentucky if it does decide to do that. But he's a Kentucky alumnus and, honestly, who else would want to coach there?
Update: a few hours after this column was initially published, Kentucky announced Phillips would not be returning next year.
9. Johnny Football is the best player in the SEC, especially when you don't tackle him. Yeah, we already said this, but it bears repeating.
Johnny Football will probably win a Heisman Trophy before he leaves College Station because for every yard of offense the Aggies (7-2, 4-2) pick up, Manziel accounts for about 2 feet. The guy is electric, and a threat to score on every play, no matter where the ball is.
But against tougher defenses, the Aggies have been shuttered and unable to produce. In a year or two, that will no longer be the case.
10. Ole Miss may not get a bowl. We haven't said much about Ole Miss here, and this week's game shows why. Nothing says, "Hey, we're legitimate now," like almost getting bowl eligible.
We'll preface this by saying Ole Miss could still get a bowl. They would need to beat Vanderbilt (doable, but not easy), LSU (doubtful) or Mississippi State (again doable, but not easy) to get there.
But that's not what the Rebels should be thinking about. The Rebels (5-4, 2-3) have had a good year running the ball, unless of course they need it. Ole Miss ran for 46 yards in a 37-10 loss against Georgia. Todd Gurley almost gained that on one play.
We've done enough squawking about the running game that we'll let our previous comments speak for themselves. Ole Miss fans have done enough squawking to make you think they were headed to the Sugar Bowl. Then they talk about their "young team" and you remember they may not get a bowl of any kind.
Extra points: Why do people brag about killing deer? Doesn't seem all that difficult. Deer taste pretty good, so we get that part of it, but so do cows and people don't smear bovine blood on their 7-year-old daughter's face the first time she eats a cheeseburger. That part of it, at least, seems unnecessary.
John Wayne is hereby proclaimed by What We Learned as the Greatest American of All-Time (rounding out the top five are Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, George Patton and Yosemite Sam).
Speaking of Americans (Secretariat is No. 6, by the way), we hear there's an election coming up sometime soon (dear God, we hope it's soon). We – and you – should probably vote. Somebody told us it was important.
Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.