One month of the 2015 college football season is in the books and we seem to have more questions than answers—with all the requisite surprises, both positive and negative.
Okay, so that big build up (the five week odyssey that was our SEC Preview) was just preparation for such a fun project? I got that one wrong, at least at the top spot. It was a disastrous September for the Auburn Tigers, a nightmare. No one expected what has happened on the plains, 2-2 overall and 0-2 in league play. Only the first half of the first game, 24-0 against Louisville, was anything close to what we expected and Louisville has been their own disappointment going 1-3 with only a win over Samford to show for things.
Jeremy Johnson was a bust at quarterback, with interceptions and misreads galore. Enter redshirt freshman Sean White, and he was little better in Auburn’s 17-9 loss at home to Mississippi State last week. The Tigers were lucky to beat Jacksonville State, got embarrassed and manhandled by LSU, and then failed to muster a single touchdown against State. Give Auburn’s September an ‘F.’
My #2 team, though, has answered all the questions in the positive. Ole Miss has been the talk of the college football world, beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and vaulting to #3 in the polls. Though the Rebels defense has not always been as advertised, the offense has been nearly unstoppable. To their credit, Vanderbilt did a far better job than mighty Alabama, at containing the Rebels attack. Ole Miss visits 4-0 Florida on Saturday night in another enormous test.
Florida’s win over Tennessee on Saturday only further underscored the pain on Rocky Top. It has been a tough last five years for the Volunteers. They thought this would be the year they returned to prominence. It is not. As feared, Joshua Dobbs is just not ready. Both defeats for UT were games Dobbs did not lead as a top quarterback has to in order to succeed against top competition. A 17-0 lead at home against Oklahoma went badly, then the 27-14 lead in the 4th at The Swamp. Baby steps for the Vols—no major leaps forward will occur this season.
Vanderbilt is as expected. No surprises anywhere there. The defense is excellent, and the only thing Derek Mason knows. The Ole Miss game was encouraging, especially the outstanding third quarter. But there is absolutely no leadership from the sideline. Johnny McCrary is improving at quarterback, but the offensive line is nowhere near good enough and the effects of that have pervaded throughout a poor offense. Vanderbilt will not be expected to win any of their remaining eight games on the schedule. If it bottoms out like that, maybe at least we can have a do-over on that coaching search?
Props to TSU, 3-1 in September with their only loss to FCS #1 Jax State. The young Tigers are growing before our eyes, and the future is exciting for the Big Blue.
Nationally, Ohio State is where they started at #1, but they have struggled. Michigan State has risen to #2 and seems the most rounded team so far. They loom for the Buckeyes in November. TCU got lucky in a 55-52 win at Texas Tech, winning on a deflected pass on 4th down in the final minute. Their defense is normally strong, but not this season. Other than Auburn, the biggest disappointment has to be Oregon. The Ducks lost at Michigan State fine, but 62-20 at home to Utah???