Meeting Expectations?

Three games into the season, and following what was probably the most complete performance of the Mike Shula Era, the Crimson Tide is already exceeding many people's preseason expectations. How does the Tide's early season performance compare to the rest of the conference?

It's hard to fathom sometimes.  Some teams can have "bad" wins.  Others can have "good" losses.  There were complaints about Alabama's wins over both Middle Tennessee and Southern Miss.  Pundits raved about South Carolina after they lost to Georgia.  So I guess you have to look beyond wins and loss to see where teams stand.  Looking around the SEC, some teams are right where their preseason expectations had them to be, others are already disappointing, and some are even better than expected.  Here are my quick thoughts on each team.



While most thought that Bama had a good chance to be 3-0 at this point in the schedule, few thought they would look so dominating in their win in Columbia, S.C last week.  This is a team that has looked better each week, and with a back-loaded schedule, that is a very good thing.  While I'm not proclaiming a national championship this year, based on their performance against South Carolina I'd say the Tide is exceeding expectations.



The Hogs were pulled, roasted, Bar-B-Qed, chewed up and spit out by USC last week.  No one was expecting them to go out to Los Angeles and win, but one Arkansas defensive stop would have been nice.  The week before, Arkansas gave up a game winning drive to Vandy - never a good thing.  The Razorbacks are in disarray and not showing any signs of getting it together.  While there were few expectations for Nutt's crew, they are definitely falling short on any that existed right now.



With Tommy Tubberville proclaiming at SEC Media Days that his team is more talented this year than last year's 13-0 team, which had its entire backfield drafted in the first round, he shouldn't lose to Georgia Tech.  The two wins since against Mississippi State and Ball State have done little to alleviate concerns.  By losing their first game, Auburn has fallen short of expectations fueled by the head coach himself.



Hurricane Katrina has altered LSU's plans for sure.  The one game LSU has played was a huge road win at a good Arizona State club.  We'll know a lot more about the Tigers after Monday's visit from Tennessee, but for right now they are exceeding expectations.


Ole Miss:

Ed Ogeron's yelling and screaming will only go so far.  It was a good win for the Rebels against Memphis and the loss to upstart Vandy was not totally unexpected.  This is another team without many expectations and they are showing why.  The Rebels are about where they should be.


Mississippi State:

One thing's for sure, Sly Croom's Mississippi State team can beat Tulane.  They were able to get the 1-AA monkey off their back by beating Murray State but looked pretty bad against Auburn.  This team is still a few years away and is basically on track based on preseason expectations.



The Gators under Urban Myer had huge expectations coming in and have not disappointed.  Getting the win Saturday versus Tennessee skyrockets those expectations even higher.  Anything less than a National Championship may be a disappointment for some Gator fans, but right now the Urban Renewal Project is ahead of schedule.



No one looked better in week one than the Bulldogs, but they looked down right mortal against the Gamecocks in week two.  With those two performances basically canceling each other out, and the ULM game telling us nothing, UGA is undefeated, on schedule and ready for its two big divisional games against UT and UF.



They're bad.  We knew they'd be bad.  They played well against Louisville, but I do believe they've secured their only win on the season against Idaho State, and that wasn't wrapped up until late in that ball game.  Expectations were low and this team is fulfilling expectations.


South Carolina:

People were ready to hand Steve Spurrier the SEC after the Gamecocks fought to the end against Georgia.  Then they were pummeled by the Tide.  The fact of having the Superior at the helm gave South Carolina unrealistic expectations, and they are not meeting them at this point.



The Vols have not performed like the third ranked team in the country as they were slated before the season started.  Barely holding off UAB at home and losing to Florida after their yearly pre-big-game off week has not been what the Orange Nation had in mind.  They better beat LSU, or the Peach Bowl may be calling again, and you know what they say, you can't spell Peach Bowl without…wait a minute…never mind.



The feel good story of the season, as long as you are not an Arkansas or Ole Miss supporter, has been Vandy's 3-0 start.  With at least three more games left on the schedule in which the ‘Dores will be the favorite, Vandy's first bowl game since 1984 may be looming.  Some thought they'd be decent, but this start has got to be a pleasant surprise to even the most long-suffering Commodore supporter.   


Tom Canterbury produces and can be heard on Chris Stewart in the Morning weekdays from 7-9 am and The Sports Breakdown with Vince Ferrara weekday afternoons from 3-6 on Sports Radio 1420 the Tusk in Tuscaloosa.

He can be reached at




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