- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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What all did we learn in Week 5 in the SEC?
Sit back, relax and find out:
1. Alabama’s lead widens: We were pretty sure that Alabama was the class of the SEC going into Saturday night’s contest with Florida. Now, there’s no doubt after seeing the Crimson Tide manhandle the Gators 31-6 in a game that was never really close. After going up 24-0, Alabama toyed with Florida the rest of the way. The Crimson Tide were a more physical team, a more mentally prepared team, a more disciplined team and just a better team all the way around. These two teams had separated themselves from the rest of the SEC the past two years. On Saturday, it was Alabama doing the separating. The Crimson Tide have now won 19 straight games overall, including 18 in a row in SEC regular-season play. They haven’t given up a second-half touchdown all season and are only going to get better defensively once they have a chance to mature on that side of the ball.
2. Gators beaten up front: If Florida is going to navigate its way back to the SEC championship game and have it go differently against Alabama in a potential rematch, the Gators have to play better on both lines of scrimmage. In particular, the offensive line needs to play like a veteran unit and a unit that was supposed to be the backbone of this offense. Getting the tough yards remains a problem for the Gators, who’re hopeful the Trey Burton package can continue to grow down around the goal line. They sure need it to given their limitations in the running game. But with junior quarterback John Brantley still trying to find his way, it’s the Florida offensive line that needs to put it on its shoulders the rest of the way and man up.
3. Fear the Eagle: Granted, it was just Louisiana-Monroe, and Auburn is right where it was a year ago record-wise. The Tigers are 5-0 after rolling 52-3 Saturday at home. Still, you get a different feel about this club than the one a year ago that ended up losing five of its last six SEC games. That different feel starts with quarterback Cameron Newton, who continues to improve and is emerging as the most dynamic playmaker in the SEC. He threw three more touchdown passes Saturday and now has a league-leading 12 on the season. He didn’t have to run the ball this past weekend, but tackling him has been a problem for everybody. Newton gives the Tigers a dimension they simply didn’t have last season, and they look like they’re in it for the long haul this time around in a Western Division race that could easily come down to that showdown on Nov. 26 with Alabama.
4. LSU an unbeaten enigma: There’s little debate that the reason LSU is unbeaten is because of a rock-solid defense and superior play on special teams, and that’s OK. It's not the first team to win thanks to those two phases of the game and won’t be the last. But this offense is a train wreck right now, in particular the whole quarterback situation, and how many more of these late-game meltdowns with regard to clock management can the Tigers survive? Had Tennessee not been caught with 13 men on the field on that final play, they would be roasting Les Miles on the Bayou right now -- and many still are. There’s no excuse for having those kind of lapses on the sideline and in the booth over and over again. This is a talented team that has found ways to win. Resiliency is a big part of football, but how dysfunctional can you be on the offensive side of the ball and continue to win games?
5. Georgia is in the tank: It’s official now. Georgia’s season is over. All that remains is to see how bad and how far-reaching the fallout will be when the games are complete. The Bulldogs (1-4) lost 29-27 to a Colorado team on Saturday night that was trashed 52-7 by California earlier this season. It was the fourth straight loss by Georgia, which again managed to fumble the ball away at the worst possible time. This latest blunder was Caleb King coughing it up in the final two minutes with Georgia at the Colorado 27 and driving for the game-winning touchdown or field goal. The good teams find ways to win. This team is finding ways to lose right now, and not even A.J. Green’s return could save the Bulldogs. They’re staring down the barrel of their first non-winning season or even their first losing season in the Mark Richt era, and if that happens, Richt will have a hard time surviving.