SEC's balance hot, Auburn's Franklin not
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Who else is ready for a little fall weather? It ought to be illegal to play in the kind of sauna Georgia and South Carolina did last Saturday in Columbia, which is the perfect segue into this week's edition of "Hot and Not." And, no, Florida fans, there won't be any references to the late field goal against Miami two weeks ago. But thanks for all your cards and letters and thanks most of all for setting me straight on how Urban Meyer would never do anything to rub another team's noses in it:
The SEC's balance: Five teams in the Top 10 of the latest Associated Press poll? That's never happened before, and it's another example of why this league is such a monster. But the real indicator is that teams like Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and South Carolina, teams generally considered to be in the bottom half of the conference, are as dangerous as ever. The only off days in this league are open dates.
Auburn's defense: The Tigers are ranked third nationally in scoring defense. Is this one of Tommy Tuberville's best defenses since he's been on the Plains?
Mississippi State's offense: Whew, now that's what you call a rotten offense. The Bulldogs can't throw it. They're turning it over, and their playmakers (in name, anyway) aren't making any plays.
South Carolina tight end Jared Cook: Yes, I know he warranted a "Hot" mention last week. But I'm not sure I've seen a more impressive tight end in the country to this point. Can you say: N-F-L?
Alabama nose tackle Terrence Cody: Alabama's defense has been outstanding, and Mount Cody is one of the big reasons why. No newcomer in the league has had a more profound impact on his team than Cody to this point.
Tennessee fever: How badly do the Vols need a win over Florida? A crowd of 98,000 was announced for the home opener against UAB. The actual attendance was probably closer to 85,000. Either way, it was the fewest number of bodies in the stands to watch the Vols in their home opener since the last major expansion at Neyland Stadium in 1996.
Vanderbilt cornerback D.J. Moore: If Moore were playing for Notre Dame or Southern California, he'd be a Heisman Trophy candidate. He's one of the best multi-purpose players in the country and accounted for 206 all-purpose yards against Rice, which included kickoff returns, punt returns, a 37-yard run and 31-yard interception return.
South Carolina's running game: Simply, the Gamecocks don't have one, which is really going to make things tough for Chris Smelley and the quarterbacks. South Carolina is 107th nationally in rushing offense.
LSU's defense: It's a pretty good debate right now as to who has the best defense in the SEC. If you like defensive football, then find yourself a seat at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night. Both sets of Tigers can bring the heat.
Tennessee tight end Brandon Warren: At what point does Warren ask to transfer back to Florida State? He's only caught three passes in the first two games. He's been open, too. The Vols better figure out a way to get him the ball.
Ice, Ice baby
Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin: Nobody's going to make any rash judgments after three games. After all, the Tigers are 3-0 and ranked in the Top 10. But they will after four games if this new spread offense goes belly-up against LSU and Auburn loses because it can't finish drives, turns the ball over and generally looks dysfunctional on that side of the ball. If you're going to run a spread offense, the first rule of thumb is that you better have a quarterback who can run it. Neither Chris Todd or Kodi Burns has proven that he's that guy yet, at least not in this league.
Final Troy 0 13 Georgia 66 Final 6 Texas A&M 58 SMU 6 Final Florida 21 3 Alabama 42 Final Indiana 31 18 Missouri 27 Final Northern Illinois 14 Arkansas 52 Final Mississippi State 34 8 LSU 29 Final 14 South Carolina 48 Vanderbilt 34