Surprise! Area SEC teams looked good

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 4, 2000

Mississippi State looked good! LSU looked good! Ole Miss looked good! USM looked good! And I know everyone agrees with all four evaluations.

What I remember best about last week, though, is the impressive manner in which Mississippi State outscored then No. 3 Florida 47-35 Saturday evening in Starkville. Time and again the Bullies opened holes in the Gator line; so often in fact you had to wonder if State had too many men on the field. But, no – just 11 and 11, including the warriors on defense, who slammed Florida pretty well.

And then there was the Tiger surprise over then No. 11 Tennessee down in Death Valley Saturday night. In overtime, coach Nick Saban’s rather surprising Bengals beat the Vols 38-31.

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Tiger fans were ready for the wrap-up, too, having poured onto the sidelines in anticipation of an LSU victory. I wondered as I watched what the Tiger fans would have done had Tennessee scored and added two points. But they would have been happy with their &uot;Tagers&uot; regardless.

Ole Miss showed signs of new life against dangerously offensive Kentucky, stopping the Wildcats 35-17 in a game closer than that. But the Rebels of coach David Cutcliffe are more balanced than many might like to believe, in my opinion. The Rebels essentially won with defense, though.

And then there was Southern Mississippi grappling with big conference rival Memphis in Hattiesburg and taming the Tigers in solid fashion 24-3. USM’s Golden Eagles of coach Jeff Bower are as well-coached as any team; you can bet on it.

Consequently, the Conference-USA leading Eagles (with East Carolina) jumped from a No. 21 ranking to No. 17 with their third win of the season. They’re 3-1 overall, 1-0 in the league.

Mississippi State has moved solidly into the Top 25 in the U.S. at No. 20, and if coach Jackie Sherrill’s Dogs can bump off No. 15 Auburn Saturday at State, watch out Dogs!

But Auburn didn’t earn a No. 15 ranking just moping around, no sir. All of us know the Tigers have already tamed Ole Miss and LSU en route to a 5-0 start, and a victory over State would be the biggest plum to date for the visiting ‘Cats.

And you know something – I think MSU has the defense to stop Auburn’s very good running attack. And offense enough to tip the scales. This oughta be some game.

That being said, I’ll go in the SEC elsewhere with Ole Miss to beat Arkansas State; Florida to beat LSU in Gainesville; and Tennessee over Georgia, Arkansas over La.-Monroe, South Carolina over Kentucky and Vandy over Wake Forest.

USM? I like the Eagles to beat South Florida. Southern’s schedule eases off a mite from here on in. USM could go 10-1. I mean it.

4Remember Buck Peden? Well, the one-time sports editor of The Natchez Democrat and his charming wife Carolyn will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary Dec. 3 way out in San Diego, California. The ol’ sports writer of considerable local renown and Carolyn were always a dashing young couple, and I know I speak for everyone around here in congratulating them on their 50th.

Buck was always a good golfer, winning the old Big Eight Sportswriters Championship several times. And Duncan Park was his mecca!

Peden children Bob and Debbie have taken on the pleasurable task of honoring their parents on this festive occasion. Congratulations again ol’ writing and golfing buddy, and kudos to Debbie and Bob.

Glenvall Estes is a long time sports columnist for The Natchez Democrat.