- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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Even when the temperatures start to dip, it’s always hot somewhere in the SEC.
Then again, maybe not.
Alabama’s defense: The more you watch Alabama play defense, the more you realize what a headache it is to move the ball and score points against those guys. The way the Crimson Tide tackle on defense has also been known to cause a few headaches. Their 24-7 win over Mississippi State last week was the 11th straight time dating back to last season that they’d held an opponent to 14 or fewer points. The last FBS team to go an entire season without allowing more than 14 points in any game was Oklahoma in 1974. The Sooners won the national championship that year with an 11-0 record, allowing an average of 8.4 points per game. Alabama is allowing an average of 7.1 points through 10 games this season and has given up just two touchdowns in its last five games.
Arkansas’ special teams: Bobby Petrino brought in veteran coach John L. Smith a couple of years ago to upgrade the Hogs’ special teams, and that’s been one of the best moves Petrino has made. They’ve been excellent in the kicking game all season with five special-teams touchdowns. Joe Adams returned his third punt for a touchdown last week in the 49-7 rout of Tennessee, a 60-yard gem that saw him break six tackles.
Tennessee’s second-half offense: Not only have the Vols lost all six of their SEC games this season, but they’ve now gone five straight games without scoring a single point in the second half. In their six SEC games, they’ve been outscored 118-22 in the second half.
Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy: The Commodores’ junior running back is making a bid to become the school’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 1995. He had 135 yards and three touchdowns last week in the 38-8 win over Kentucky and now has 891 yards on the season. He’s hit the 125-yard mark four different times this season.
Florida’s offense: The Gators were hard to watch on offense last season. It’s been like watching the same horror movie all over again this season, only with different coaches. Charlie Weis’ track record speaks for itself, but the Gators don’t do much of anything well right now on offense. In five of their past six games, their offense has been held to 13 or fewer points.
Western Division race: Arkansas looks like it means business, which could really heat things up two weeks from now. Should Alabama, Arkansas and LSU all finish in a three-way tie, it’s going to be mighty interesting to see how those BCS standings on Nov. 27 shake out.
This week’s schedule: Talk about a weak slate of games. Obviously, SEC commissioner Mike Slive put out some type of secret memo allowing teams to schedule scrimmages in Week 12. Come on, the marquee game is Mississippi State at Arkansas. Check out some of the opponents this week -- Samford, The Citadel, Georgia Southern and Furman.
Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo: The Bulldogs’ free safety is having a terrific junior season and now leads the SEC with seven interceptions. He picked off a pass last week against Auburn and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown.
Auburn’s pass defense: It’s a good thing for the Tigers that Georgia quit throwing in the second half, or Aaron Murray might have had 10 touchdown passes. Auburn looked utterly defenseless against the pass in its embarrassing 45-7 loss to Georgia, which is hard to figure when you consider that the Tigers had two weeks to get ready for the game.
Ole Miss: Offensive coordinator David Lee called last week’s 27-7 loss to Louisiana Tech a “living nightmare,” and he said he was speaking for the offense. He might as well have been talking about this entire season for the Rebels, who’ve lost five straight games and are in danger of becoming the first Ole Miss team since 1946 to win just two games in a season. The defense, despite some crippling injuries, has done its best to hold up, but the Rebels have been a disaster on offense. It’s a tough way for Houston Nutt and his staff to go out, but the reality is that the Rebels have struggled to even be competitive this season. Their average margin defeat in their current five-game losing streak is 21 points.
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