Auburn 56, Mississippi State 23
You wanted to see Bo Nix crank it up a few notches, here you go. The freshman turned it loose hitting 16-of-21 passes for 335 yards and two touchdowns, and he led the way with 56 rushing yards and a score on seven carries. Throw in the JaTarvious Whitlow 55 yards and three touchdown runs – and the 42-9 halftime lead – and this is exactly what the team has been building towards. This offense to go along with the great line play makes the Tigers a real-deal factor in the SEC title chase, even with the murderous schedule coming up.
Mississippi State doesn’t have the firepower. The defense of last year is long gone, QB Garrett Shrader couldn’t get the O to keep up the pace once the game got out of hand, and there was no hope of getting back into the game even with the help from three takeaways. The passing game wasn’t miserable, and the Bulldogs kept pressing, but this was Auburn’s day. The Tiger offense was just way too good.
Mississippi State will go bowling, but there can’t be any major misfires. With LSU, at Texas A&M, and Alabama ahead, there’s little room for another big loss. With Tennessee and Arkansas still to go – those are on the road – along with Ole Miss and Abilene Christian, the Bulldogs will get to six wins without too much of a problem, but it would’ve been nice if the team could’ve built off the win over Kentucky.
Auburn is about to get all of the national attention. Gameday will be in Gainesville for the Florida showdown next week as part of a run of three straight road games that includes the date at LSU, but the Georgia and Alabama games are at home. At the moment, it really is a one-game-at-a-time thing. The schedule is too daunting, but just beat Florida, then move on to Arkansas, and then it’s really going to get fun.
Alabama 59, Ole Miss 31
Tua Tagovailoa is toying with the college football world. He was beyond brilliant with a 26-of-36 day for 418 yards and six touchdowns and a rushing score. Yeah, he might have the greatest receiving corps in the history of college football to throw to – he really might – but he’s putting the ball in the right spots time and time and time again.
Of course, it helps when the third or fourth-best receiver – depending on how you want to rank the corps behind Jerry Jeudy – catches 11 passes for 274 yards and five touchdowns like DeVonta Smith did.
Is there any real reason to get into a twist over the 31 points the Tide allowed? A little bit. There wasn’t any real drama after a 31-point Bama second quarter, but the special teams were a bit sloppy early on, the offense could’ve hit at least 70 if it was just a wee bit sharper, and it’s Alabama – it’s not supposed to allow close to 500 yards of total offense. This is the best team in college football right now, but it’s due for a complete game from the defensive side, too.
Ole Miss kept fighting and did what it could, but it needed a special teams break to get going early. The passing game didn’t quite do enough until late, but the ground attack had a few nice moments. There was no keeping up with the machine that is the Alabama offense right now – it’s way too sharp – but …
At 2-3, the Vanderbilt game next week is everything for the Rebels. Win that, and with New Mexico State still to play, getting to four wins won’t be a problem. It’ll take two shocking upsets to get to six wins, but after the disappointments against Memphis and Cal, and now this, there hasn’t been a whole lot of fun – or luck – so far.
The Alabama schedule will get dogged with Duke and South Carolina the two best teams on the slate so far, and with two weeks off before getting Texas A&M, Tennessee and Arkansas. It’ll all set up for the showdown agains LSU in early November and the road game at Auburn at the end. It’s not the killer slate overall that it appeared to be before the season, but compared to what Clemson gets to face, it’s tough enough.