Several teams were on bye in the SEC this weekend, but critical aspects of the Western division were revealed.
Alabama is still a problem
I’ve already written off Alabama as a legitimate contender. Would it totally shock me if they ran the table and ended up winning the SEC? No, but it would shock me if they won the National Championship. In my mind, they still have too many holes on both sides of the ball; they could easily have 2-3 losses already. But I, and many others, have done this before. Writing off Nick Saban is never a wise decision because it’s usually around this time of year when his teams begin to turn it on.
If Saturday was any indication, Alabama is still a problem. They dominated Mississippi State from the opening whistle in what was arguably their most impressive performance of the season. Up next? A bye week followed by a matchup with LSU in Baton Rouge — a game that could decide the SEC West. Imagine saying that after LSU’s Week 1 loss to Florida State? It will be an eventful night in one of the best settings in all of sports, but it feels like an opportunity to flex their muscles. LSU was electric in their win over Ole Miss and Brian Kelly has his guys believing they belong on top of the West, but there’s still a substantial talent gap between the two teams.
Brian Kelly is the answer at LSU
I’m not sure why so many doubted the coaching prowess of Brian Kelly when he took the job at LSU. He’s had incredible success everywhere, and LSU has proven over the last two decades that it doesn’t take a genius to win in Baton Rouge (i.e., Les Miles and Ed Orgeron). In terms of coaching, Kelly is the best LSU has had since Saban, and it’s only taken him eight weeks on the job to prove it.
Kelly entered an abysmal situation. The culture at LSU in the final years of Orgeron’s reign was a steaming pile of shit, and the turnover in player personnel is not something programs recover from in just one season. But look no further than the SEC West standings following LSU’s 45-20 stomping of #7 Ole Miss to see just how much of an impact Kelly has already had in Baton Rouge.
Lane Kiffin had his offense firing on all cylinders in the first half, doing whatever they wanted through the air and on the ground to the LSU defense, leading to a 17-3 lead, but it was all downhill from there. Led by Jarden Daniels, who has now accounted for 11 touchdowns over the last two weeks, LSU went on a 42-3 run. They looked like the LSU we’ve become accustomed to seeing over the last two decades, and while beating Alabama in two weeks will be a tall task, this season should already be viewed as a success for Kelly and LSU. Once he gets his guys in the building, competing with Alabama for the SEC West will be an annual occurrence.
Jimbo Fisher isn’t the answer at Texas A&M
In today’s NIL world, nobody is set up better for success than Texas A&M. They have all the money in the world and a rabid fanbase eager to turn the program into a perennial winner. But for whatever reason, they can’t figure out the coaching situation. Kevin Sumlin had some decent success but quickly fell off a cliff, and now we’re seeing a similar situation with Jimbo Fisher, who just signed a fully guaranteed 10-year contract extension 13 months ago.
Texas A&M entered the season with a talented roster that most people believed would challenge for a College Football Playoff spot. Fast forward eight weeks, and we are talking about them making a bowl game. Saturday’s 30-24 loss to South Carolina was the latest blemish on Fisher’s resumé. Firing him seemed improbable at the beginning of the season, but after three straight losses and four of their next five games against Ole Miss, Florida, Auburn, and LSU, it no longer seems so far-fetched.
Photo: Andy Altenburger/Icon Sportswire