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VOL. 129 | NO. 195 | Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Presenting the Wild, Wild SEC West

By Don Wade

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Historic stuff. Unbelievable stuff. That’s the short description for Ole Miss and Mississippi State sharing the No. 3 ranking in this week’s Associated Press poll and the top spot, with Auburn, in the SEC West standings.

Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace played a solid game against Alabama last Saturday, throwing three touchdown passes with no interceptions.

(Dave Martin)

For the Bulldogs, who defeated Texas A&M last Saturday, this is the first time they’ve knocked off two Top 10 teams in the same season and it’s the highest ranking in school history.

For the Rebels, their 23-17 upset of Alabama ended a 10-game losing streak against the Crimson Tide and the No. 3 national ranking is their highest since they were preseason No. 1 in 1964.

After having a hand in five touchdowns – two passes and three runs – in the 48-31 beatdown of Texas A&M, Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott called the game a “Mississippi State-ment.”

It was statement day for all of Mississippi and also for much-maligned Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace, who played just about the perfect second half and threw three touchdown passes in the game with no interceptions.

“He made some big plays,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. “He just played so solid.”

Of course, at 5-0 and 2-0 in the SEC, each team has a lot of football left. No. 2 Auburn comes to Starkville this Saturday – as does the ESPN GameDay crew, just a week after being in Oxford – and the Rebels go to No. 14 Texas A&M for what any pundit with a handle on clichés would have to call a “trap” game.

But it is fun to think ahead a little, say to Saturday, Nov. 29, when the Egg Bowl could be more meaningful than the Iron Bowl.

The University of Memphis finished with 610 yards of total offense in its 41-14 victory at Cincinnati. That’s the most since the Tigers rolled up 630 yards against the Bearcats in 1984 and the third-most in school history.

Quarterback Paxton Lynch completed 18-of-25 passes for a career-best 311 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 45 yards on 12 carries.

Meanwhile, Sam Craft started at running back for the first time in his career and rushed for 170 yards.

And after scoring just 53 points off turnovers in all of the 2013 season, the Tigers have scored 45 points off turnovers through five games this season.

The Tigers’ 3-2 start is their best since the 2004 team came out to a 5-1 start on the way to an 8-4 season.

The Rebels held Alabama to one offensive touchdown and their 10.2 points against per game ranks second in the nation. The Rebels are fifth in the country in total defense, allowing 277.6 yards per game.

Prescott’s 180.6 quarterback rating leads the SEC and he leads all league quarterbacks with 455 rushing yards. He’s thrown 13 TD passes, ran for six TDs, and caught a TD pass. He’s at the top of the conversation for SEC Player of the Year and also in the Heisman discussion.

“He’s going to get a lot more attention now with this performance,” MSU coach Dan Mullen said after Prescott’s five TDs vs. the Aggies. “But as I’ve told everyone, that’s what we expect from him.”

Tennessee (2-3, 0-2) carried a 9-0 lead into the fourth quarter – all field goals – but Florida scored 10 points for a 10-9 victory. The entire game was a monument to offensive ineptitude, but the Vols’ offensive line was especially horrible. Tennessee rushed for 28 yards on 29 attempts and gave up six sacks.

Vanderbilt dropped to 1-5 and 0-4 after its 44-17 thumping from Georgia. The one positive from the game? For the first time this season, the Commodores did not give up a sack.

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