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Where do we start after a wild weekend of SEC football? We could go to Music City, where Vanderbilt is turning heads with a surprising 4-0 start. We could go to Gainesville, where the Gators are fresh off a blowout win over Tennessee. We could talk about Georgia, which survived back-to-back road games at South Carolina and Arizona St.
But we start our review of Week 4 by discussing the defending national champions, the LSU Tigers. When Ryan Perrilloux was dismissed from the team this past spring, most dismissed LSU's chances of repeating. After all, Les Miles was left with zero experience at the quarterback position.
Like I said all summer, the Bayou Bengals were as good as -- if not better -- than any team in the country at every position on the field other than QB. On Saturday in an SEC West showdown at Auburn, Miles seemingly found his QB. His name is Jarrett Lee, a redshirt freshman, who threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell with 1:03 remaining to lift his team to a 26-21 win as a three-point favorite.
LSU rallied from a 14-3 deficit at halftime, as Lee shook off a pick-six and played outstanding in relief of the injured Andrew Hatch in the second half. Miles also reached into his bag of tricks, calling for a halfback pass from Auburn's 22 while trailing 14-10 in the third quarter. LSU running back Keiland Williams executed the gadget play to perfection, firing a strike to Demetrius Byrd for a 22-yard TD connection.
The Bayou Bengals improved to 3-0 with a home game against Mississippi St. on deck. They then get an open date before going on the road to face Florida in a monumental matchup on Oct. 11. As for Auburn, it will look to bounce back when it plays host to a wounded Tennessee squad this Saturday.
Speaking of the Volunteers, they will be in desperation mode on the Plains. Florida dropped UT to 1-2 by going into Neyland Stadium and delivering woodshed treatment to the tune of a 30-6 thrashing. The Gators easily cashed tickets as 7 1/2-point favorites.
UF's Brandon James set the tone by returning the opening kick beyond midfield. Several plays later, the Gators were in the end zone with a 7-0 lead. Later in the first half, James had a 78-yard punt return for a TD and the blowout was on.
Phillip Fulmer's team could be looking at a 2-4 start with road trips to Auburn and Georgia in the next three weeks. The Rocky Top faithful are up in arms and Fulmer's future appears to be in doubt.
Of course, we've seen that before, only for the Vols to regroup with their backs against the wall. Will that happen again, or was Saturday the beginning of the end of Fulmer's storied tenure at his alma mater?
Urban Meyer's team will play host to Ole Miss this week as a 23-point 'chalk.' The Gators then travel to Arkansas before taking on LSU.
Break up the Commodores, who are 4-0 overall and 2-0 in SEC play after capturing a 23-17 win at Ole Miss as seven-point underdogs. Junior free safety Ryan Hamilton garnered SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors after intercepting three Jevan Snead passes. With the Rebels leading 10-0 and in Vandy territory, the game turned on Hamilton's 79-yard interception return for a TD.
Vandy senior QB Chris Nickson left the game with a shoulder injury, but MacKenzie Adams played well in relief. With the Commodores off this week, Nickson is expected to play in an Oct. 4 home game against Auburn. ESPN will televise the game at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. If Auburn remains ranked by beating UT this week, it will be the first time Vandy has hosted a game between ranked teams since 1947.
Georgia went out to Tempe this past Saturday and thumped Arizona St. 27-10 as a seven-point favorite. Knowshon Moreno was the catalyst, rushing for 149 yards and a pair of first-half TDs as the Dawgs built a 21-3 advantage by intermission.
Mark Richt's team is back in action this Saturday against Alabama as a seven-point home 'chalk.' Like they did in a 45-20 win over Auburn last year, the Dawgs will break out the black jerseys for just the third time in school history.
Nick Saban's team is 4-0 following Saturday's 49-14 triumph at Arkansas. The Crimson Tide easily cashed tickets as 9 1/2-point favorites. They will be looking to avenge last season's home loss to UGA in overtime.
Mississippi State fell to 1-3 when it took a 38-7 pounding from Ga. Tech as an eight-point road underdog. It doesn't get any easier for Sylvester Croom's troops, who are 24 1/2-point underdogs Saturday at LSU.
**B.E.'s Bonus Nuggets**
--From the lips of VI handicapper Bill Marzano: "FSU's quarterback play is absolutely atrocious. Absolutely atrocious. I think Colorado has a solid team. Look for them to beat the 'Noles this week."
--Vandy is last in the SEC in both total offense and total defense. However, the Commodores have been outstanding on special teams and are plus nine in the turnover department.
--South Carolina senior All-SEC wide receiver Kenny McKinley is "doubtful" vs. UAB this week. He is expected to miss his third straight game with a hamstring strain. Steve Spurrier is hinting that QB Stephen Garcia might get the starting nod ahead of Chris Smelley against the Blazers.
--Coaches on the Hot Seat:
1-Greg Robinson (Syracuse)
2-Ty Willingham (Washington)
3-Phillip Fulmer (Tennessee)
4-Bill Stewart (West Virginia)
5-Steve Kragthorpe (Louisville)
--Coach of the Year candidates:
1-Bobby Johnson (Vandy)
2-Tim Brewster (Minnesota)
3-Skip Holtz (East Carolina)
4-Pete Carroll (USC)
5-Bronco Mendenhall (BYU)
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