The Dye-Log: Teams to Watch

College football Hall of Fame Coach Pat Dye writes about Auburn football, the SEC and teams around the nation in this edition of his Dye-Log column.

We had a great weekend of college football in the Southeastern Conference and across the country.

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It started with Auburn at Mississippi State on Thursday. I think both have pretty good football teams. I was impressed with how hard both played although each team made too many mistakes. Going against the best competition in this league, the Tigers can't afford to make the kind of mistakes they made against Mississippi State and win football games.

Auburn got the football inside the 10-yard line twice and got it called back by an illegal procedure penalty and by a holding penalty. A touchdown in either of those situations would have probably given Auburn a wider margin of victory. That is a part of the intangibles I wrote about earlier. Mistakes in the game have a lot to do with whether you win or lose.

I was just as impressed with Cameron Newton in the game vs. Mississippi State as I was in the first game because he converted a lot of third down plays. When the game was close at the end he took sacks rather than throwing the ball up and making a mistake and giving Mississippi State the ball in good field position.

Junior quarterback Cameron Newton (left) celebrates a touchdown pass with receiver Emory Blake (80) and center Ryan Pugh.

The first thing you have got to have in a quarterback is one who won't get you beat. I didn't see Cameron Newton make any mistakes other than the interception early in the ball game. To me that game was a big hurdle for him, particularly being on the road. A lot of quarterbacks try to make plays when they aren't there and cause problems for their teams with turnovers. He didn't do that and it impressed me because we have already seen he has great ability.

In the game with Georgia at South Carolina, I was a little surprised with Georgia because they didn't play as well defensively as I thought they would. The big freshman running back (Marcus Lattimore) kind of had his way with the Georgia defense and that shocked me.

I think the Georgia-South Carolina game came down to South Carolina having a senior quarterback playing at home and Georgia having a freshman quarterback playing on the road. Columbia is a tough place to play and that game is always hard fought. This time South Carolina got the best of it. South Carolina may be a little better than I thought they were and Georgia may not be quite as good.

Alabama showed again that they are the dominant team in the country as they manhandled Penn State, which was never in the ball game. Alabama took control at the beginning and kept it throughout the game.

Florida played a lot better in the second half against South Florida. In the first half the Gators looked just like they did in the first ball game vs. Miami of Ohio. In the second half Florida came out and ran a lot of "I" formation and ran the ball a lot and showed that they can be a physical football team. To me it looks like that is going to be their personality.

I don't see Florida being what they were offensively with (Tim) Tebow at quarterback. They do have speed at the running back position and it looks like they are going to be a good defensive football team. South Florida did move the ball on the Gators some, but Florida is an extremely quick and fast defensive team that creates a lot of turnovers, which has helped them in their first two games.

This week in the SEC the Auburn vs. Clemson game is a big one and I think Mississippi State will play LSU close in Baton Rouge. Arkansas at Georgia will be a good game to watch. We don't know much about Arkansas because they haven't played anybody yet, but we will know more about them after they play at Georgia.

Georgia isn't as good as I thought they would be. Maybe not having A.J. Green has made a major difference in that football team. This will be a big test game. We will see if Arkansas is for real and which way Georgia is going.

Arkansas has the big strong receivers and the big quarterback, but they are playing on the road in Athens and Georgia will play better there so I expect that will be a classic Southeastern Conference football game just like the one in Baton Rouge between Mississippi and LSU, which I?think will be close. I?think Mississippi State is pretty good and everybody knows LSU has talent, but we'll see how they progress as the season goes on.

It is a fact of life that there are six Southeastern Conference teams in the Top 25 and that is probably accurate. It doesn't look like the conference is going backwards. It looks like it is probably getting stronger.

I looked at a lot of football this past weekend and as far as the national picture is concerned Ohio State looks like they are for real. They are a team that physically looks like they can match up with Alabama in a lot of areas although I don't think they would beat them. Their big quarterback does give them a chance.

Oklahoma is another team I was impressed with because I actually thought Florida State would have a chance against the Sooners and they had no chance. At Oklahoma's skill positions and with their overall team speed they look like they may be as quick as anybody in the country.

Another interesting thing in college football is that a lot was said early about the Virginia Tech-Boise State game. I thought after the ball game there were two or three ACC teams that could probably beat Virginia Tech based on what I saw and then they lose to James Madison, which indicates they aren't as good a football team as everybody thought they were going to be.

Then you have got Boise State that is not going to have to play any teams in the Top 25, which makes a tremendous difference vs. playing in a league like the Southeastern Conference with six teams in the Top 25. Whether you say it does or not, who you play has a lot to do with how you look and it makes a tremendous difference. Being able to get up for a schedule full of tough teams and big games is tough to do. When you only have to get up for a couple of games a year it is a lot easier.

The Legends Coaches poll begins voting next week after the third game for most teams and we will have a much clearer picture then of who the top teams in the country area.

I was impressed with Oregon the way they came back against Tennessee. They look like a team on West Coast that can make a statement. I like Iowa in the Big 10 in addition to Ohio State and I like Michigan, too, with that quarterback up there who looks like Houdini. The Big 10 could have a say in it before it is all over with, too.

We haven't learned anything about Texas yet, but we will learn more as the season goes on when they play somebody. They should have a good football team again because they have great talent.

(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)

Editor's Note: This part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, Dye participates weekly in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye will write three columns a week--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.

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