Yes, the SEC championship game is set, and you are never going to guess who will play in it: Alabama and Georgia. You’ve seen this movie before, but not exactly this version of the Nick Saban-Kirby Smart saga that has ruled the conference the last few years.
First, there is Alabama. The Tide seemed like they had truly lost the plot after losing to Texas at home early in the season then struggled mightily against USF on the road while cycling through quarterbacks. We knew the defense was going to come around. But would the offense ever figure itself out? Well, it isn’t the electric Bama of Bryce Young or Tua Tagovailoa, but it is a functional offense that can just get the job done with a comparably better defense to help them out, and their maturation as a team has even impressed Nick Saban.
“I think that it seems like every team we’ve had in recent years there’s these huge expectations and you never want the expectations to impact you, but because there were such high expectations there was almost like you were relieved to get the players to where they needed to be so they could have success,” Saban said to reporters after the game. “With this team, I didn’t have those kinds of expectations. I knew we could be good. I believed in them, but I knew it was going to be a work in progress. So it was like everyday you’re just trying to teach lessons that will help them grow and develop and they’ve done a great job with that and it’s been fun and I didn’t put any expectations on them or myself and they’ve sort of blown it out of the water in terms of how well they’ve done.”
This Bama team is an FCS win and an Iron Bowl win away from being at least 60 minutes away from a likely Playoff berth against Georgia in the SEC Championship game. In other words, it’s right where Bama fans have become accustomed to their team being this time of year. The quarterback may not be as good as what’s come before, but that’s ok. And they’ll face a Georgia team that’s in a similar position.
Most of the key pieces up the middle of Georgia’s defense play for the Philadelphia Eagles. They are not as suffocating of a defensive unit as they have been in the last two years. Instead, they actually use a little more offense than their predecessors to get the job done. Much of that is due to the fact that Carson Beck has different talents than Stetson Bennet. The latter’s steady hand guided the offense but Beck is proving he can be additive to winning with his arm. It changes the way this team is balanced. The last time Georgia lost was at the hands of the Tide. Alabama may not be what that team was, but they’ve played their way to the same opportunity.
SI top 10 (of the week)
The Wolverines have finally played somebody, and while they didn’t tear them limb from limb, Penn State was rendered effectively moot against Michigan because the Wolverines made a statement, even without Jim Harbaugh, that they’re for real.
The Dawgs put it on Ole Miss tonight as they continue to roll, and hit their stride in November like the best teams do. Can they roll into Tennessee next week and emerge undefeated?
3. Ohio State
Ohio State wasted little time smoking Michigan State at home, up 14–0 before you could even blink. Marvin Harrison Jr. continues to make a pretty decent case that he should be the next wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy.
4. Florida State
Florida State took Miami’s best shot as they often have to in a game the Canes can make their Super Bowl. But with a shaky QB situation, Miami just didn’t have enough to upset a Noles team even though they hung around.
They got Quinn Ewers back, but Texas continues to win in an unsexy fashion. But they are winning, and until they don’t, their chance at a Playoff remains strong.
The Tide rolled over Kentucky, getting up early and staying up throughout. The SEC West champions are rounding into form.
Maybe Alex Grinch wasn’t the whole problem for USC’s defense, because Oregon ran through ‘em like a hot knife through butter—just like nearly every other team they’ve played lately.
Missouri’s just good. No qualifiers, no negging, the Tigers can play. There’s no shame in losing to Georgia, and there’s even less shame in unloading on Tennessee the way they did.
The Huskies seem to have gone a different way than the Ducks since the two met in a rivalry tilt. Washington’s defense isn’t giving them enough, and while they held Utah down, next week’s opponent—Oregon State—poses a significant challenge.
10. Oregon State
The Beavers are coming, and you’d better be ready. Oregon State rolled over Stanford to set up a huge home game against Washington next week.
SI players of the week: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU; Jalen McLeod, LB, Auburn
- Daniels had 606 total yards and became the first player in SEC history with 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing. The Baton Rouge Advocate reported that Daniels became the first player in college football history ever to achieve 12,000 career yards passing and 3,000 career yards rushing.
- McLeod had three sacks and a forced fumble in Auburn’s unexpected rout over Arkansas. The Auburn defense showed its teeth all day after Arkansas showed it could play a little bit on offense under new coordinator Kenny Guiton.
Did you see that?
- Not exactly what you want to see:
- We love, love.
- This is pretty ducked up:
- Watch out!
This ends exactly how you think it's going to. pic.twitter.com/ndDOtLxs41— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) November 11, 2023
- That’s gonna leave a mark:
Memphis player gets hit directly in the nuts by a flag pic.twitter.com/9z3mDfeayn— CJ Fogler account may or may not be notable (@cjzero) November 11, 2023