Ole Miss and Mississippi State aren’t supposed to be this good.  The two Magnolia state schools aren’t supposed to beat Alabama or Texas A&M…these two wallflowers of the SEC West were supposed to be exhibits A & B to refute anyone who declared that the Southeastern Conference wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  Both schools have had spotty history over the years and although each has had its moments– the fact that both are unbeaten and tied for the #3 spot in this week’s Associated Press Poll.  Both are coming off signature Moving Month wins…the Rebels rallying past then-#3 Alabama 23-17 and the Bulldogs torching then-#6 Texas A&M 48-31.  This isn’t like Joey becoming the star of “Friends”–it’s like Gunther stealing Rachel away from Ross.  Unbeaten in October– or even September– isn’t something I associate with either school.  When I think of the University of Mississippi I think about an overmatched Archie or Eli Manning, “The Help” and James Meredith.  When I think of Mississippi State I think about Jackie Sherrill castrating a bull, the 1980 Bulldogs denying Alabama a chance to three-peat, and MSU being looked down on by the Ole Miss community (the two schools’ relationship reminiscent of North Carolina and NC State).  Both teams have struggled in the shadows of an SEC West that’s dominated the college football landscape recently– while Ole Miss has just one 10-win season since Hall of Fame coach Johnny Vaught’s last game in 1973, Mississippi State has one double-digit victory campaign since World War II.  For years teams in the SEC East would hope to get the “double-Mississippi” when getting their crossover division schedules as opposed to the Alabama-Auburn or Bama-LSU double-doozy.  It’s fitting these two schools emerge from the rubble on an upset-filled weekend (five of the top ten schools losing)…and lets allow the Magnolia state to enjoy this early October bloom while it lasts.  You see, Mississippi State visits #2 Auburn while Ole Miss travels to #14 Texas A&M.  Where’s Jackie Sherrill and the vet when you need them?

 

Alma Mater Update– there isn’t enough wings and bleu cheese to negate the empty feeling of Friday night’s 28-6 loss to Louisville.  It reminded me of the 2007 loss at home to Washington where I realized that maybe the light at the end of the tunnel for Greg Robinson was an oncoming train.  Lack of speed in the secondary.  Lack of talent at the skill positions.  Mismanagement in critical situations.  Adding injury to insult, quarterback Terrel Hunt is out 4-6 weeks with a broken fibula.  Coach Scott Shafer (gives a great press conference) responds by stripping Offensive Coordinator George McDonald of his playcalling duties heading into Saturday’s showdown with #1 Florida State.  Remember, this is a team that switched defenses to a 3-4 for their game with Georgia Tech and lost 56-0.  Another reason for me to dislike the Bills– Doug Marrone should be coaching this team right now.  Instead a seemingly unprepared administration had to fill the head coaching job with a Scott Shafer (gives a great press conference) who may have been promoted one level above his skill set.  A coaching hire misfire at a private school in the northeast?  Deadly.  When does basketball begin again?

 

Maryland had its Big Ten rude awakening with a 52-24 loss to #20 Ohio State.  Sloopy was doing a lot more than hanging on:  the Buckeyes served a reminder to the Terps that while they may be playing in OSU’s conference–they’re not in the Bucks’ league.  So is a big chunk of the Big Ten.  Terrapin Triumphs-– Cole Farrand notched 17 tackles while Andre Monroe added a pair of sacks…Caleb Rowe provided  spark off the bench by throwing for 173 yards and a touchdown in the second half.  Terrapin Troubles– Rowe threw 3 interceptions while CJ Brown tossed another pick in the first half… the defense allowed over 5 yards a carry and gave up touchdowns on the Buckeyes first two possessions to set the tone.  Next: October 18th against Iowa.

 

Virginia Tech wasted no time separating itself from North Carolina…taking a 24-3 halftime lead en route to a 34-17 thumping of the Tar Heels.  Granted, UNC is rebuilding (allowing 42 points a game) but a road conference win is a nice way to start Moving Month.  Hokie Highlights– the defense held the Tar Heels to 2 for 13 on third down-and forced 3 key turnovers that led to 21 points…Ken Ekanem notched 3 of the team’s 5 sacks…special teams held ballyhooed punt returner Ryan Switzer to 7 total yards on 6 returns.  BEAMER BALL!  Hokie Humblings– minimal happy returns as VT averaged 13.5 yards per kickoff return and -2.5 yards per punt return… the offensive line allowed 3 sacks… Michael Brewer was intercepted again.  Next:  Thursday October 16th vs Pitt.

 

Virginia held on for dear life in the second half…almost wasting a 21-point lead in their 24-19 win at Pitt. There’s a lot of football to be played, but UVa is one of 3 ACC teams that have unbeaten conference records.  Wake up whenever you want, Cavs faithful.  Cavalier Congrats– Kevin Parks rushed for 169 yards and a TD…Anthony Harris notched 15 tackles and a sack… Max Valles’ interception was the team’s 19th of the season.  Cavalier Concerns– six second half drives netted just 87 yards on 26 plays from scrimmage…  Matt Johns reminded fans why he was unable to take the starting job away from Greyson Lambert (9-16 passing for 93 yards, a TD and an INT).  Next:  October 18th at Duke.

 

Navy saw its season continue to go south with a 30-21 defeat at Air Force.  While the Commander in Chief’s Trophy not out of reach (Navy needs to beat Army after the Black Knights beat Air Force), a 2-4 record means there’s minimal margin for error as the upcoming slate includes a date with #6 Notre Dame and a trip to Sun Belt Conference leading Georgia Southern.  Midshipmen Medals– Chris Swain rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown…the defense held the Falcons to 6-15 on third down.  Midshipmen Miscues– the offense went 3 & out on three of its first four second half possessions… two turnovers in Air Force territory and a missed field goal took points off the scoreboard… the defense allowed 3 TD passes by Kale Pearson.  Next:  Saturday vs VMI.

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