The Dye-Log: Big Weekend For SEC Football

Coach Pat Dye writes about the Auburn football Tigers and the Southeastern Conference.

I think some pretty significant things took place last weekend in the SEC that give us an indication about how our conference is shaping up.

Auburn had a backyard brawl with Clemson and was fortunate to win. Alabama had a walk in the park at Duke, the Florida at Tennessee game went about like I expected and the Georgia-Arkansas game went down to the final play of the game. That Georgia kid could have caught that final desperation pass in the end zone on the final play to tie the game.

Ware Jewelers

I was surprised Mississippi State didn't play better at LSU than it did, but the Bulldogs turned it over five times. One quarterback threw three interceptions and the other threw two, and you can't win like that.

I was tickled to death to see Robbie Caldwell get his first SEC win at Ole Miss. I think because of Coach Caldwell's personality Vanderbilt is going to be everybody's favorite SEC team this season when their team isn't playing Vanderbilt.

We have a big weekend of football coming up in the Southeastern Conference. The first big game on Saturday is an afternoon contest in Fayetteville where Alabama will play Arkansas. I think Alabama will win because I don't think Arkansas is strong enough to beat this Alabama team that has gotten a lot better offensively.

I do think Arkansas is going to challenge Alabama's pass defense. Good quarterbacks, if their teams can protect them, have given Alabama problems. That will be a big game for both schools. Arkansas is trying to get there and Alabama is already there. Alabama is defending its turf and Arkansas is trying to take it.

On Saturday night the South Carolina at Auburn game should be a real good one. I am expecting two halves like we saw in the second half of the Clemson at Auburn game. It will be a war.

South Carolina has a good football team and I think Auburn is pretty good, although I am not sure Auburn knows exactly where it is heading into the game, but the South Carolina game will give us some kind of indication because that is a good football team the Tigers will be facing.

South Carolina has an experienced quarterback (Stephen Garcia) and a great freshman tailback (Marcus Lattimore). South Carolina is good on defense and it is a physical football team. This should be a great college football game.

Another SEC game that I think is going to be interesting is Kentucky at Florida because I think the Wildcats have a chance to be pretty good. I guess Louisville is the best team Kentucky has played so the Wildcats will get the real deal from Florida in Gainesville. We will find out a lot about Kentucky on Saturday, and we may find out more about Florida as well.

The big non-conference game for the SEC is West Virginia coming to Baton Rouge to play LSU, which I think is still a mystery team. I am not that high on West Virginia, but West Virginia is good enough to beat LSU if LSU doesn't come out ready to play on Saturday night. I do expect LSU to win that game with it being in Baton Rouge.

An interesting game on Saturday night will take place in Starkville when Georgia plays Mississippi State. Both teams have two conference losses and this one will determine which way they are going. If Mississippi State has the kind of enthusiasm it had when Auburn came there to play it should be a tough challenge for Georgia's freshman quarterback (Aaron Murray).

Around the country there are several significant games this week. One to watch is Stanford at Notre Dame. Notre Dame is playing better this year, but I think Stanford will win even though Notre Dame can be tough to beat in South Bend. Boise State and Oregon State will being playing in Boise, and I think Boise State will beat them even if Oregon State may be a better team. Playing at home is a decided advantage for Boise State. Also out West, Oregon vs. Arizona State could be an interesting game.

Two things stand out in my mind about the Clemson at Auburn game. It is obvious to me that Auburn didn't play at the same speed in the first half as the team did in the second half, but that happens. As a coach you hope that doesn't happen against a good football team, but it did.

The other thing that was obvious to me is that Clemson had spent all preseason and fall getting ready for Auburn because they did a lot of stuff offensively and defensively that they had not shown before. Clemson spent a lot of time game-planning and scheming and it worked in the first half. Auburn's coaches did a great job making adjustments at halftime and the combination of the adjustments and the players going at a different speed allowed Auburn to come back and win.

The second half reminded me of a typical Southeastern Conference football game. I was very impressed with the level of talent and ability Clemson had, particularly on the defensive front. Clemson's quarterback (Kyle Parker) did a great job and maybe the difference in the game was him getting hurt. Clemson's tailbacks ran the ball very well.

I thought in the second half Auburn played about as hard as it could play although the team still made a mistake or two. I also thought the game was another step forward for Cameron Newton, who led the Tigers back with 24 unanswered points, and I think it was a great football game. It will probably be the same way when these teams play next year at Clemson and the following year in Atlanta at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game.

Cameron Newton

Auburn's team is still a work in progress going into game four. I think Coach Malzahn (offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn) is game-planning around things he knows that Cameron Newton can do and letting him come on at his own pace. It is obvious the team needs to throw the ball down the field and become more effective doing that, and I think we will see that happen.

Auburn had some big plays off the passing game on Saturday night. Clemson was playing eight or nine folks in the box and as a result of that Auburn got some big plays passing the football. If you live by the sword, sometimes you die by the sword.

(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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