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Hot Reads: Even with loss, Mettenberger practically perfect

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LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger tries to rally his troops in a tough loss on the road last week. (Source: Radi Nabulsi/Georgia Athletics) LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger tries to rally his troops in a tough loss on the road last week. (Source: Radi Nabulsi/Georgia Athletics)
LaDarius Perkins is far off his 1,000-yard pace from a season ago, but the Bulldogs need him to avoid losing their 14th straight game against LSU. (Source: Mississippi State Athletics) LaDarius Perkins is far off his 1,000-yard pace from a season ago, but the Bulldogs need him to avoid losing their 14th straight game against LSU. (Source: Mississippi State Athletics)
  • Texas A&MMore>>

  • Hot Reads: 'Dogs open eyes and SEC East race

    Hot Reads: 'Dogs open eyes and SEC East race

    Thursday, September 11 2014 8:00 AM EDT2014-09-11 12:00:27 GMT
    Georgia emerges from the dark depths of a bye week and heads across I-20 to take on South Carolina. Redheaded stepchildren have gotten better treatment than the Bulldogs in their last two trips to Columbia.
    Georgia emerges from the dark depths of a bye week and heads across I-20 to take on South Carolina. Redheaded stepchildren have gotten better treatment than the Bulldogs in their last two trips to Columbia.
  • What We Learned from the SEC in Week 2

    What We Learned from the SEC in Week 2

    Sunday, September 7 2014 12:54 PM EDT2014-09-07 16:54:17 GMT

    It's still much too early to talk about who will be in the playoff at the end of the year, but it looks safe to say the Big 10 won't be represented.

    It's still much too early to talk about who will be in the playoff at the end of the year, but it looks safe to say the Big 10 won't be represented.

  • Hot Reads: Up is down, down is up in SEC this week

    Hot Reads: Up is down, down is up in SEC this week

    Thursday, September 4 2014 8:00 AM EDT2014-09-04 12:00:24 GMT
    Texas A&M was a surprising team in its first game, but that may not be such a good thing. On the other hand, an Alabama squad that was just blah is likely headed in a more positive direction.
    Texas A&M was a surprising team in its first game, but that may not be such a good thing. On the other hand, an Alabama squad that was just blah is likely headed in a more positive direction.
  • South CarolinaMore>>

  • Robinson earns SEC honor for efforts in Gamecocks' win over UGA

    Robinson earns SEC honor for efforts in Gamecocks' win over UGA

    Monday, September 15 2014 10:11 PM EDT2014-09-16 02:11:46 GMT
    Offensive tackle Corey Robinson was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week following South Carolina's 38-35 win over Georgia. The 6-8, 344-pound seniors out of Havelock, N.C., helped the Gamecocks
    Corey Robinson has been named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week.
  • ESPN to televise South Carolina vs. Missouri

    ESPN to televise South Carolina vs. Missouri

    Monday, September 15 2014 11:32 AM EDT2014-09-15 15:32:16 GMT
    The University of South Carolina football game against Missouri on September 27th will be televised on ESPN. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.The university's athletics department announced the broadcast and game time
    The University of South Carolina football game against Missouri on September 27th will be televised on ESPN. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
  • South Carolina jumps to No. 14 in AP poll

    South Carolina jumps to No. 14 in AP poll

    Sunday, September 14 2014 2:12 PM EDT2014-09-14 18:12:17 GMT
    South Carolina's win over Georgia vaulted the Gamecocks 10 spots to No. 14 in The Associated Press college football poll, giving the Southeastern Conference an unprecedented seven teams in the top 15. The
    South Carolina's win over Georgia vaulted the Gamecocks 10 spots to No. 14 in The Associated Press college football poll, giving the Southeastern Conference an unprecedented seven teams in the top 15. 
  • Ole MissMore>>

  • What We Learned from the SEC in Week 3

    What We Learned from the SEC in Week 3

    Sunday, September 14 2014 1:47 PM EDT2014-09-14 17:47:12 GMT

    Two top 10 teams were upset this week, and to the surprise of few, they were Southern Cal and Georgia.

    Two top 10 teams were upset this week, and to the surprise of few, they were Southern Cal and Georgia.

  • USC season on line; UGA looking to break bad; Vols face tough road test

    USC season on line; UGA looking to break bad; Vols face tough road test

    Friday, September 12 2014 6:00 PM EDT2014-09-12 22:00:26 GMT
    Georgia can establish itself as a top-tier beast if it gets by South Carolina this weekend - and USC would drop to 0-2 in the league with a loss. Tennessee travels to Oklahoma, where Coach Bob Stoops doesn't believe the SEC is all-powerful.
    Georgia can establish itself as a top-tier beast if it gets by South Carolina this weekend - and USC would drop to 0-2 in the league with a loss. Tennessee travels to Oklahoma, where Coach Bob Stoops doesn't believe the SEC is all-powerful.
  • What We Learned from the SEC in Week 2

    What We Learned from the SEC in Week 2

    Sunday, September 7 2014 12:54 PM EDT2014-09-07 16:54:17 GMT

    It's still much too early to talk about who will be in the playoff at the end of the year, but it looks safe to say the Big 10 won't be represented.

    It's still much too early to talk about who will be in the playoff at the end of the year, but it looks safe to say the Big 10 won't be represented.

(RNN) - Every once in a while, a little irony is good for the soul.

Take, for example, South Carolina. Marcus Lattimore is gone, yet the Gamecocks have the SEC's leading rusher in yards per game in Mike Davis. Jadeveon Clowney is still there, yet they most definitely do not have the league leader in sacks (he's not even first on his own team). Irony.

Lane Kiffin was fired five games into this season. You may remember he left Tennessee after the first year of a six-year contract. Ed Orgeron, who followed Kiffin from Knoxville, is taking over the Southern Cal program in the interim. Irony.

There had been talk the government shutdown could have canceled this weekend's Army-Boston College and Navy-Air Force games. The Midshipmen and Falcons combined have lost their last five games. Congressional opponents of the Affordable Healthcare Act have a losing streak close to 50 and counting. Irony.

You probably had no clue this story contains a hidden message using the first line of each sentence. Actually, it doesn't, but that didn't stop you from checking. That's not irony, it's just plain funny.

H0tty T0ddy

Notice the spelling? Hot Reads really and truly thought Ole Miss might have been ready for prime time, but we should have known better.

When a team's own fan base produces lukewarm enthusiasm about its chances to win a game, it's a sign of bad things to come.

Common sense was screaming in the back of the room that the Rebels were another year away (at least) from making serious noise, but the glitter on the package was too much to resist.

This is still a very good team, and it has time to get that much better, so who knows? Gosh almighty, they might get that big upset this year after all.

SEC vs. SEC

LSU at Mississippi State, 7 p.m. ET Saturday

With all respect to Georgia and Tennessee (at least as much respect as two teams who can't play defense deserve), the best NFL Lite game of the week is taking place in Starkville.

It's about time people started paying more attention to Mississippi State's defense, and they get a golden opportunity to prove why this weekend.

Guess who is second behind steel curtain Florida in the SEC in yards allowed per game. Nope, not Alabama. Not LSU. South Carolina? Not so much. It's the Hail Staters, who are also top 20 in the nation in that category.

It's an even more impressive feat because they only have five sacks. Their performance against Troy two weeks ago was a major statement. And if you're rolling your eyes going, "yeah, but it's Troy," then you're obviously not a Division-I football coach.

The Bulldogs held the Trojans to 186 total yards (139 passing, 47 rushing). Troy has been held to fewer than 200 passing yards and 100 rushing yards in a game just four other times since 2006 - impressive considering the teams that have paid them for butt whippings.

It's also time to recognize just how good the LSU offense is.

The Tigers might have the most perfect scoring attack in the SEC right now. Their balance all year has been remarkable - 199 rushes and 129 passes.

Jeremy Hill leads the SEC in points scored per game and is one of four players with 100 or more rushing yards per game. Backup tailback Terrence Magee actually has a slight edge over Hill in yards per attempt, which is somewhat scary.

Zach Mettenberger leads the conference in passing yards per completion and is second in yards per attempt. Those numbers become more impressive when you consider he gets sacked less than twice per game. It basically means he shoots for big plays through the air, gets those big plays and doesn't lose yardage because of a combination of three things - good blocking, a quick release and receivers who can get yards after the catch.

Any criticism of Mettenberger or anyone else on that offense after the loss to Georgia is unjustified. He made NFL throws all night, the receivers caught balls in traffic to move the chains and Hill grinded out 86 yards.

Yeah, they petered out on the final drive, but their defense blew a lead and the offensive line was spent after standing up for so long. It happens.

It's not an excuse that's particularly comforting to anyone wearing purple and gold, but this team will be fine.

Arkansas at Florida, 7 p.m. ET Saturday

If you call yourself old school (and by old school, I mean you remember when people could do research without Google) then you probably appreciate a good, old-fashioned, punch-you-in-the-mouth, run-heavy football game.

Consider this matchup a surprise answer to your prayers. Florida looks like a brick wall, and Arkansas is trying to prove it can move the football against more than wet paper towels.

The Razorbacks put up 200 rushing yards against Texas A&M last week, but A.) that was still about four first downs fewer than their average for the year, and B.) it's Texas A&M, whose defense apparently thinks every quarterback can play like Johnny Manziel. More on them in a bit.

Arkansas can do everything well except for stay mentally focused when it counts. Without two interceptions against the Aggies and a bad special teams error against Rutgers (and a few defensive lapses against both), we might be talking about the Hogs as a 5-0 team right now.

And then there's Florida, which is playing defense like Alabama (the old Alabama, not the new Alabama). It's just absurd that the Gators are only allowing 149 passing yards and 53 rushing yards per game. Fifty-three rushing yards?! Hot Reads doesn't care if it's against a high school, those are impressive chops.

It's safe to say that number will bend at least a little with tailbacks Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams leading the SEC's second-best rushing attack into Gainesville.

If Florida's defense is going to carry the team for another year (it better), this game will provide a good gauge of just how far.

There's life outside the SEC?

Maryland at Florida State, 12 p.m. ET Saturday

Georgia State's trip to Alabama seems less-than-inspiring, and Hot Reads was rudely reminded that Kentucky-South Carolina still technically counts as an SEC game.

Soooo… we're forced to look elsewhere for a quality nonconference matchup.

Maryland is having its best season since the start of the millennium, going 4-0 for the first time since 2001 and scoring 30 or more points in each of its first four games for the first time since 2002.

Florida State's young quarterback, "Famous Jameis" Winston, will get his toughest test of the season so far. The Terrapins shut out West Virginia, who later beat a good Oklahoma State team.

The Terps lead the nation in sacks and are in the top five nationally in takeaways, but the Seminoles have only given the ball away three times. So what gives?

Wisdom says take the defense. Maryland was without two starting defensive backs against the Mountaineers and was still dominant. Winston is a highly efficient passer, but his preference to work from the pocket makes it easier to contain him. Florida State converts a gaudy 51 percent of its third downs, but Maryland is allowing half that, making it one of the best in the nation.

If Maryland rushes for more than 200 yards, it wins the game. Boston College got exactly that amount and gave the Seminoles trouble. FSU's nearly five-minute deficit in time of possession means it may not have enough time to get back in the game if it's trailing late.

Stat of the Week:

-109.6: Texas A&M is leading all NFL Lite teams in yards per game with 586.4. It's also last in the league in yards allowed with 476.8 - a difference of nearly 110 yards. If the Aggies make it the rest of the way with anything less than two losses, Manziel more than deserves that second Heisman.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network All rights reserved.

  • Who is the best quarterback in the SEC this season?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    James Franklin
    3%
    4 votes
    Johnny Manziel
    14%
    20 votes
    AJ McCarron
    15%
    22 votes
    Zach Mettenberger
    34%
    48 votes
    Aaron Murray
    30%
    43 votes
    Other
    4%
    5 votes
  • Southeastern ConferenceMore>>

  • What We Learned from the SEC in Week 3

    What We Learned from the SEC in Week 3

    Sunday, September 14 2014 1:47 PM EDT2014-09-14 17:47:12 GMT

    Two top 10 teams were upset this week, and to the surprise of few, they were Southern Cal and Georgia.

    Two top 10 teams were upset this week, and to the surprise of few, they were Southern Cal and Georgia.

  • No. 24 South Carolina upsets No. 6 Georgia 38-35

    No. 24 South Carolina upsets No. 6 Georgia 38-35

    Saturday, September 13 2014 10:09 PM EDT2014-09-14 02:09:54 GMT
    Dylan Thompson threw for three touchdowns and No. 24 South Carolina's maligned defense stood strong on a fourth-quarter goal line stand to topple No. 6 Georgia 38-35 on Saturday night.
    No. 24 South Carolina's defense showed it's not nearly as bad as it looked two weeks ago - and maybe that No. 6 Georgia isn't the runaway favorite in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division.
  • USC season on line; UGA looking to break bad; Vols face tough road test

    USC season on line; UGA looking to break bad; Vols face tough road test

    Friday, September 12 2014 6:00 PM EDT2014-09-12 22:00:26 GMT
    Georgia can establish itself as a top-tier beast if it gets by South Carolina this weekend - and USC would drop to 0-2 in the league with a loss. Tennessee travels to Oklahoma, where Coach Bob Stoops doesn't believe the SEC is all-powerful.
    Georgia can establish itself as a top-tier beast if it gets by South Carolina this weekend - and USC would drop to 0-2 in the league with a loss. Tennessee travels to Oklahoma, where Coach Bob Stoops doesn't believe the SEC is all-powerful.
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