There was high drama in Columbia, where South Carolina recorded yet another win over its SEC East rivals from Athens. Georgia had ample opportunity to post a huge win, but once again the Bulldogs couldn’t get it done in a big spot. Elsewhere, Kentucky was impressive in a loss while Florida was a bit of disappointment in a win. And Missouri, the team that everyone forgets about, is really good again.
Key Takeaways in the SEC from Week 3
It was worth the wait for Thompson
No matter what happens the rest of the season, Dylan Thompson will always remember last Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium. It would have been easy for Thompson, buried behind Connor Shaw the last two seasons, to transfer to another program that afforded him the opportunity to play earlier in his career. But the South Carolina native was willing to wait for his one season in the spotlight as the quarterback for Steve Spurrier’s program. And through three games as the no-doubt-it QB1, Thompson has been terrific, completing over 60 percent of his passes for a combined 903 yard with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. On Saturday night, he threw for 271 yards with three touchdowns to lead South Carolina to a season-saving win over Georgia.
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Georgia lacks the championship DNA
It’s dangerous — and sometimes not fair — to make such generalizations, but you have to wonder why Georgia lacks the ability to make the right play at the right time in so many big spots. Whether it was ending the 2012 SEC Championship Game on the 5-yard line — so painfully close to an appearance in the BCS title game — or failing to convert from 1st-and-goal from the 4-yard line in Saturday’s loss at South Carolina, this program consistently comes up one play short of greatness. We’ve learned in the past that one early season loss does not doom a season, but the Bulldogs let a golden opportunity slip away — yet again — in Columbia Saturday evening.
Kentucky has found its quarterback
Kentucky didn’t name a starting quarterback until 12 days prior to its season-opener. It’s clear that Patrick Towles was the correct choice. The third-year sophomore — one of the top recruits from the previous regime — has the ideal skill set to run Neal Brown’s “Air Raid” attack. Towles was sharp in the Wildcats’ two wins but made a bigger statement in Kentucky’s loss at Florida Saturday night. He threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns — numbers that are even more impressive when you consider that Kentucky had no running game to complement its passing attack. Towles did throw three interceptions, but two of his picks bounced off the hands of his receiver.
Florida offense still needs some work
Credit the Gators for persevering — and credit Kentucky for its improvement — but it was evident from watching Florida on Saturday night that this team is still a work in progress. The final offensive numbers were impressive — 532 yards and only one turnover — but Florida made seven trips inside Kentucky’s 40-yard line in regulation and came away with only 20 points. The offensive efficiency must improve if this team hopes to live up to the lofty expectations of its fan base.
Missouri is still pretty good
Missouri shocked the college football world by winning the SEC East last season. But due to the loss of some key personnel — most notably at wide receiver and on the defensive line — the Tigers were not a popular pick in the preseason to be much of a factor in the East in 2014. It’s obviously still very early, but Gary Pinkel’s team has been very impressive through three weeks. On Saturday, the Tigers rolled past UCF, the defending Fiesta Bowl champs, with ease, scoring 28 unanswered points in the second half on their way to a 38–10 win. Mizzou hosts Indiana in its final non-conference game next week before beginning a three-game stretch — at South Carolina, vs. Georgia, at Florida — that will tell us if this team is capable of repeating its unlikely SEC East title.
SEC Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
W, So. Miss, 52-12
at Kansas St.
W, Rice, 38-10
W, UL Lafayette, 56-15
W, Georgia, 38-35
L, S. Carolina, 38-35
W, ULM 31-0
W, UCF, 38-10
W, Kentucky, 36-30
W, S. Alabama, 35-3
W, Texas Tech, 49-28
L, Oklahoma 34-10
L, Florida, 36-30
W, UMass, 34-31