- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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It’s back for another year: Who’s hot and who’s not?
LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson: I guess I need to add return specialist to his duties as well, although I doubt many teams will be kicking it to him the rest of the season. He is truly a special football player, and is off the charts as an athlete. First of all, you just don’t see cornerbacks pushing 220 pounds who can run like that. And then he steps back there to return kicks for the first time since high school and rolls up 244 return yards by halftime, including an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown. Hey, I’d hand it to him a few times on offense, too. Peterson said Saturday night after the 30-24 win against North Carolina that he was game.
Mississippi State’s offense: The Bulldogs were pretty close to perfect in thrashing Memphis 49-7. Tyler Russell threw four touchdown passes, and Mississippi State finished with 569 yards of total offense. The Bulldogs did have one interception, Chris Relf’s first throw of the night, but had just three penalties for 30 yards.
Florida’s offense: Here’s how bad it was: The Gators had 13 total yards at the half. They couldn’t get the snap right. Their running game, especially when it comes to getting the tough yards, looks suspect, and the receivers look even more suspect. Where’s Andre Debose? He didn’t play a snap.
Georgia’s kickers: There are weapons in the kicking game, and then are Drew Butler and Blair Walsh. Butler, the Bulldogs’ All-America punter, punted six times for a 46.7-yard average. He launched a 59-yarder and had three downed inside the 20. Walsh’s day consisted of a 52-yard goal and then a 48-yard field goal. You don’t want to get into a kicking contest with the Bulldogs.
Auburn’s defense: It’s hard to be too picky about a 52-26 win, but Auburn needs to tighten up defensively if the Tigers are serious about making a run in the West. Arkansas State moved the ball well at times and kept it for more than 34 minutes, finishing with 366 yards of total offense. Auburn has to play more consistently on defense and tackle better.
Les Miles’ seat: I wasn’t one of those who was necessarily ready to concede that Miles was really on the hot seat. But after watching the Tigers nearly give that game away in the fourth quarter last weekend to a depleted North Carolina team, he better see to it that this team plays to its talent level the rest of the way, plays with more discipline – and most importantly – plays all four quarters. And one other thing: Quit saying that Russell Shepard should have gotten the ball more. Make it happen. You’re the head coach.
Vanderbilt’s luck: One game in, and we’re already debating an official's call. Looking at the replay from Saturday night, Vanderbilt safety Jay Fullam delivered his hit to the Northwestern quarterback’s shoulder pads, not his head. Yet, the official called a head-to-head personal foul penalty, which sealed the Commodores’ fate. Of course, they didn’t help themselves earlier in the game by missing an extra point.
South Carolina’s staff: The Gamecocks’ coaches did a terrific job last week of preparing for that Southern Miss game and keeping their players on point despite not knowing who would be available to them until about an hour before game time on Thursday.
Tennessee’s chances: The Vols are a two-touchdown underdog to Oregon this coming Saturday at Neyland Stadium. Can anybody remember the last time Tennessee was such a prohibitive underdog at home?
Ole Miss: The Rebels went from feeling as if they were wronged by the NCAA in the initial Jeremiah Masoli decision last week to wondering what in the world went wrong in a 49-48 double-overtime loss to FCS foe Jacksonville State. Losing to an FCS team is embarrassing enough. But to blow a 21-point lead at home and give up 355 yards of total offense is inexcusable. Jacksonville State scored on its last six possessions, and Ole Miss turned the ball over three times in the game. In a word – ugly!