North Carolina (27-17 loss at Virginia Tech)
The Tar Heels are now 1-4 on the season, and it's time to just start denying that we ever played them.
Georgia (34-31 overtime win at Tennessee)
Georgia won the game despite having absolutely everything go wrong, including losing Keith Marshall and Justin Scott-Wesley for the remainder of the 2013 season. It appeared, for a moment, that the Bulldogs might be handing the Gamecocks a completely undeserved second chance in the SEC East race, but Aaron Murray made big plays every time they were required of him. Given that Georgia was two minutes away from dropping this one in Knoxville, this outcome is more disappointing than I could have possibly imagined, but there's reason to think that the Bulldogs could have all kinds of problems with Florida, Missouri, and Auburn. Of course, the Gamecocks have plenty problems of their own that render thinking in these terms kind of ridiculous.
Vanderbilt (51-28 loss vs. Missouri)
Good lord, Vanderbilt. What the hell happened to you?
The Commodores got smoked by both land and air on Saturday, yielding 278 yards passing and 253 rushing to the Missouri Tigers. Vanderbilt drops to 3-3 (0-3 SEC) and has a bye next week before playing Georgia at home and going to Kyle Field and The Swamp in consecutive weeks. Good luck with that.
Central Florida (24-17 win at Memphis)
More bad transitive property news for the Gamecocks: UCF might not be as good as we thought. (Penn State, their best victory so far, got smoked by Indiana.) Blake Bortles completed less than 50% of his passes against Memphis, and Central Florida needed two late touchdowns to secure a come-from-behind win. The touchdown that gave the Knights their 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, and 23rd points came on a kickoff return that was fumbled by Memphis and returned by Central Florida for a touchdown. So it appears that whatever disease South Carolina has on special teams is viral and could already be present in your home. Seal the doors and windows.
Arkansas (30-10 loss at Florida)
The Razorbacks' rushing attack was completely shut down by the Gators' defense, which, so far, has not missed a beat despite losing Dominique Easley for the season a few weeks ago. With Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams rendered mostly inert, Brandon Allen was asked to win the game, and asking Brandon Allen to win the game is a recipe for Brandon Allen averaging 4.0 yards per pass. Arkansas can games with shaky quarterback play, but not when they throw the ball 43 times.
Tennessee (34-31 overtime loss vs. Georgia)
Butch Jones called the game of a lifetime on Saturday and had just about everything except Pig Howard's fumble through the back of the end zone go his way. It's going to be several years before he has the talent of teams like Georgia and Florida, but this game against Georgia is a great example of why he might not necessarily need that kind of talent to be competitive in the next year or two. Think about the fact that Tennessee game within nine seconds of beating Georgia, and then think about the fact that this happened with Justin Worley at quarterback.
The Volunteers are going to be good soon, but don't overreact to Saturday's result. Improbable things happen every week in the SEC, especially when the team doing the improbable thing is at home. Now, Tennessee has a bye week before defending General Neyland's stadium against the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Missouri (51-28 win at Vanderbilt)
Oh, good. Another South Carolina opponent of whom we have newfound cause to be absolutely terrified. I expected (and hoped, kinda) that the Tigers would bounce back during their second year in the SEC, but OK SERIOUSLY THAT'S ENOUGH BOUNCING BACK.
If there's anything to be reassured about, it's that the Gamecocks have actually been pretty good against the run (3.49 ypr, 3rd in the SEC), and that's where Missouri has been absolutely gashing people. Of course, the Tigers will still be able to give the Gamecocks plenty of problems if Lorenzo Ward can't find a personnel/scheme combo that makes his secondary less anemic against even average offenses.
Mississippi State (59-26 loss vs. LSU)
For the better part of two quarters, it looked like both of the participants in last week's shootout in Athens might be in letdown mode against inferior opponents, but LSU stormed out of the gates in the second half, outscoring the Bulldogs 31-3 as Zach Mettenberger, Odell Beckham, Jr., and Jeremy Hill completely took over the game. Mississippi State falls to 2-3 and will likely be 4-3 after wins over Bowling Green and Kentucky when the come to Williams-Brice on November 2nd.
Florida (30-10 win vs. Arkansas)
Like the Razorbacks, the Gators weren't able to run the ball very well in this one, but Tyler Murphy stepped up where Brandon Allen did not, completing 16 passes on 22 attempts for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Arkansas' passing defense was a little better than league average coming into this game, so this is a potentially troubling development.
As for the Florida defense, they were, once again, completely dominant, holding Arkansas to 3.82 ypp on 72 plays. I'm starting to think that they might be the best unit in the SEC, including the offenses of Texas A&M and Georgia. The Cocktail Party should be interesting.