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As the season resumes, some bye week thoughts

The Gamecocks were idle on Saturday, but we may have learned a fair amount about them during their bye week.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Kentucky Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina sits at 4-2 while they enjoyed a much needed bye week on Saturday before a huge matchup against Texas A&M on Saturday night in Columbia. In watching many of the games around the SEC on Saturday, some of these thoughts came to my mind.

The win at Kentucky looks really good right now

The Wildcats suffocated the 16th ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs on Saturday night with a 27-17 win. They held Will Rogers to 203 passing yards and only one touchdown. The Kentucky offense got back on track with Will Levis back under center, too. Yeah, I know: Will Levis didn’t play against the Gamecocks. That has been beaten into our heads all week after the Gamecocks’ 24-14 win over the Wildcats. However, what really looks good is how the Gamecock offense performed, especially in the second half in Lexington. For Carolina to put up 17 points in the second half against Kentucky the week before they held Mike Leach’s offense to 225 total yards is pretty impressive if you ask me. People have been lined up to pack Marcus Satterfield’s bags for a while but you have to give his unit some credit for last week. That win looks really good overall and I think it is going to continue to age very nicely.

Syndication: The Courier-Journal Scott Utterback/Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Is Ole Miss the best team in the SEC West?

No, I still think that is Alabama. But it is not going to shock me one bit if Ole Miss earns their first trip to Atlanta this season. They are 7-0, but the road is about to get much more difficult for Lane Kiffin and the Rebels. Saturday night they travel to LSU to face an improving Tigers bunch in Death Valley. The following week they travel to College Station to face A&M before getting their bye week and then welcoming Alabama to Oxford in what may be the SEC West Championship Game. There’s no rest after that, either. They then travel to Razorback Stadium to face Arkansas the week before the Egg Bowl. I don’t think they finish undefeated but I think Ole Miss is a dangerous team out west and could shock everyone by ending up in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.

NCAA Football: Auburn at Mississippi Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

The Heisman favorite may be in Columbia on November 19th

Holy cow that Tennessee offense was cooking on Saturday against Alabama. Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker placed himself squarely at the top of the leaderboard in the Heisman race with that performance against the Tide. If I had a vote, Hooker would be my pick to win the Heisman today. His stats are astounding and he rarely turns the football over. If he turns in a great performance against Georgia on the road, he will probably be the frontrunner when Tennessee rolls into town for the SEC regular season finale on November 19th.


I was hesitant to even type that, but here we are. The Gamecocks are 4-2 and 1-0 in this massive five game stretch of games that leads up to the Tennessee game. They are a slight underdog against the Aggies at home on Saturday night. Texas A&M worries me coming off a bye week and the Gamecocks have never beaten the Aggies. But Texas A&M looks more beatable than ever with injuries at the QB position and underperforming this season as a whole. They are 3-3 and easily could be 2-4 had an Arkansas field goal not bounced off the top of the upright in AT&T Stadium. Carolina will be favored to beat Missouri and Vanderbilt in the following weeks before traveling to The Swamp to begin the nostalgic Orange Crush portion of the schedule. I have no idea what the Gators will look like, either. On one hand, they do some really good things on offense but then you look at their schedule to see they have barely beaten South Florida and Missouri at home. Carolina will have to play well beginning on Saturday night, but as we sit here today 8-2 looks a lot more possible than it ever could have walking out of Williams Brice Stadium following the Georgia game.

NCAA Football: Georgia St. at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Around the Country

I do not recall seeing a season with so much parity in college football (2007 was chaos, not parity). There is not a team that is head and shoulders above everyone else. Alabama easily could have three losses right now. Georgia, who I thought was completely untouchable, could have lost to Missouri. Clemson got a bit of a test on Saturday night against FSU and also got taken to overtime against Wake Forest. We have talked about Tennessee’s ability to score points and they are this week’s hot item, but their defense is questionable.

Then there is Ohio State and Michigan. Both teams will be huge favorites in every game leading up to the showdown in Columbus. I don’t know how good Michigan really is but I also have not seen anyone really come close to beating them. Ohio State is the only team in the country that has not really even been tested yet. Notre Dame gave them a little battle but they have blown everyone else out. Barring something unforeseen, the Ohio State-Michigan game will be a top-5 matchup of unbeatens in Columbus.

Out west, I don’t think anyone would have believed the Pac-12 could have four teams in the top 15 heading into the 8th week of the season, yet they don’t have anyone that seems to be taken seriously for the playoff now that Southern Cal has a loss. There are going to be some massive matchups down the stretch this season if things hold up (they won’t, they never do). Tennessee-Georgia, SoCal-UCLA, Michigan-Ohio State, Ole Miss-Alabama, and Oregon-UCLA will all help sort the college football season out before we even get to the conference championship games. The Gamecocks will have a chance to impact it as well. As things stand today, Carolina will face the #3 and #5 ranked teams in the country in back-to-back weeks to close the season.