NATIONAL REPORT: Nightmarish Saturday for SEC
BY STEVE GREENBERG Staff Reporter October 20, 2013 12:46AM
Missouri running back Henry Josey, left, celebrates in front of teammates Dorial Green-Beckham, right, after he scored on a 6-yard run in the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against Florida Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
Updated: November 21, 2013 7:04AM
My top five, if I were voting today:
1. QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon: He’s as efficient as any guy out there, as athletic as any guy out there and somehow — though it’s nuts — as underrated as any guy out there.
2. QB Jameis Winston, Florida State: OK, we get it now. Winston and his best-of-his-era potential have our full attention.
3. QB Bryce Petty, Baylor: There he went again, leading the Bears to another 70-plus-point explosion.
4. QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M: It’s not like it was his fault his defense gave up 615 yards.
5. RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin: Last time a running back filled shoes this big was when Trent Richardson stepped in for Heisman winner Mark Ingram at Alabama. Montee Ball is missed in Madison, sort of.
GAMES OF THE WEEK/WEAK
Week: No. 24 Auburn 45, No. 7 Texas A&M 41. Might as well hop on the Gus Bus, people, because the Tigers (6-1, 3-1) are the real deal. In every sense, Gus Malzahn’s team went toe-to-toe with Johnny Manziel and the heavily favored Aggies (5-2, 2-2) — outgaining them 615-602, intercepting Manziel twice and pounding him whenever they could, including on the sack that clinched the victory. And the Tigers did it in College Station, just as bitter rival Alabama had in September. Auburn’s only loss came in hard-fought fashion at LSU. Don’t discount the possibility the Tigers will be 10-1 when Alabama comes calling on the last Saturday of November.
Weak: Arizona State 53, No. 20 Washington 24. The Huskies had so much going for them this season: a terrific senior quarterback in Keith Price, a great running back in Bishop Sankey, an ever-improving defense and a strong 4-0 start that included victories over Boise State and Illinois. Then came the mother of all back-to-backs — against Stanford and Oregon — and, though the Huskies played well in both losses, they clearly had nothing left in the tank for ASU. Now? Figure they’re bound for a fourth consecutive season with a record of 7-6 overall and 5-4 in Pac-12 play.
Nick Marshall, Auburn QB
His performance was downright Manzielian — OK, call it Manziel Lite — as the Tigers rallied late for a victory over Johnny Football and Texas A&M. Marshall, a junior in his first year as a starter, passed for 236 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 100 yards and two scores.
Up: No. 13 Stanford. With a lot of help from their higher-ranked friends, the Cardinal is back on the fringes of the BCS title picture.
Down: No. 6 LSU. That’s in the polls and in the dumps. Chin up, Les Miles, at least you’ll still be ranked above Clemson.
In: Michigan and/or Michigan State. They moved to 6-1. And though the Wolverines can’t play defense (63-47 over Indiana) and the Spartans can’t play offense (14-0 over Purdue), they’d be tough to beat combined.
Out: No. 22 Florida and No. 15 Georgia. A dark day for the SEC East. Eleventh-ranked South Carolina stays in, not that it matters.
• It was a nightmarish Saturday for the SEC, which still might be the best league in the land but has lost the right to act like it for a while.
• You remember that cute little preseason story line about the SEC East closing the gap on the West? No story line in the history of story lines has been more dead than that one. No. 11 South Carolina blew it at Tennessee. No. 15 Georgia stumbled at Vanderbilt. And No. 22 Florida completely messed the bed in a blowout loss at Missouri. Just like that, the East’s tri-favorites have two league losses apiece and are in rebuilding mode.
• And how about Mizzou? The 14th-ranked Tigers (7-0, 3-0), set to soar into the top 10, are carrying the East flag. Heck, why not play the SEC title game tomorrow and get the 30-point loss to Alabama over with?