Defense in the SEC is on life support, but Alabama isn’t ready to have the plug pulled just yet.
After a week of being trash-talked by Ole Miss and media pundits predicting an upset, the Alabama defense came out and played like the Alabama that has won the past two national titles and shut out the Rebels 25-0.
Ole Miss, which claimed it had better receivers than a Texas A&M team that threw for more than 400 yards on the Tide, had a paltry 208 total yards, 11 first downs and two turnovers.
Alabama pressured the quarterback, shut down running lanes and flew to the ball. It was a different defense than the one we had seen so far this season and gave Tide fans hope that this team could, in fact, be poised for a threepeat.
So this week, Alabama’s D is a big winner. Here’s a look at the other Winners and Losers from an entertaining Week 5:
Zach Mettenberger: Yeah, LSU didn't win, but Mose Schrute's lookalike solidified his status as the nation's most improved quarterback in the Tigers' 44-41 loss to Georgia and could be a top-1o pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The transfer from Georgia finished 23 of 37 for 372 yards and three touchdowns. His mom may take some grief when she returns back to work at Georgia on Monday, but Mettenberger may be pointing to the draft board next spring over Georgia's Aaron Murray.
UNLV: The Running Rebels (do they still call them that?) beat New Mexico 56-42 to snap a 22-game road losing streak. UNLV’s last road win was in 2009 at - you guessed it - New Mexico. The Rebels won that game 34-17. Do you remember what you were doing Oct. 24, 2009? Yeah, me neither, but probably not watching UNLV beat New Mexico.
Sean Mannion: Oregon State’s QB threw for 414 yards and a school-record six touchdowns in a 44-17 win against Colorado. Mannion’s numbers have been unreal so far this season. Through five games, he’s thrown for 2,018 yards, 21 touchdowns and just two interceptions (one by the Buffs). If he keeps this up, forget breaking school records, he could shatter records in the Pac-12.
West Virginia: Only Dana Holgorsen would have liked the Mountaineers' odds on Saturday against Big 12 favorites Oklahoma State, but Holgo got a huge upset win against his former team. West Virginia's 30-21 win won't thrust them into the Big 12 title race by any means, but it's an indication that they shouldn't be battling Kansas and Iowa State for the cellar.
I smell a couch burning in Morgantown right now.
— Brad Paisley (@BradPaisley) September 28, 2013
East Carolina: It wasn’t so long ago that East Carolina was considered one of the top non-AQ teams in the country and with a 55-31 win over North Carolina, the Pirates have definitely piqued attention. ECU had 39 first downs and accumulated 574 yards on 101 plays against the Tar Heels. A week ago, ECU barely lost to Virginia Tech 15-10.
Darrell Hazell: The Purdue coach said he needed time to change his team’s mindset and apparently a week was not enough. After getting hammered by Wisconsin last week, Purdue was smacked by Northern Illinois 55-24. Things are starting to get away from Hazell and the Boilermakers, who are looking at a one-win season if things don’t change in a hurry.
Florida State's Defense: If you can't stop Boston College, how can you stop Clemson? Jameis Winston is fantastic -- that play at the end of the first half is a perfect example -- but as good as Winston is, Clemson and Tajh Boyd are just as good. And giving up 34 points and almost 400 yards to a BC team that was stymied against USC is not a comfortable indication. If the Noles give up more than 30 to Maryland, the off week may not be enough to prepare for their October 19 showdown with the Tigers.
South Florida mascot: South Florida’s 49-21 loss to Miami was embarrassing, but not nearly as embarrassing as the Bulls’ mascot getting clowned by Miami’s ibis. It’s charge – and miss - of the ibis looked a lot like the Bulls’ pass rush.
Bo Wallace: Let this be a lesson to you, Bo Wallace, do not get Alabama angry. Wallace talked trash about Alabama secondary and claimed his receivers were better than Texas A&M’s. Apparently, Alabama took Wallace’s words as a challenge and limited him to just 159 yards passing, an interception and zero points. Perhaps Wallace should keep his mouth shut from here on out.
Wisconsin's 2 minute offense: When the Badgers got the ball back from Ohio State with a minute left and trailing 31-24, it was a chance to erase the memories from Arizona State with simply a competent drive. That didn't happen.
After an incomplete pass that should have been picked off on first down, Joel Stave threw a dump off to James White as he almost got sacked. White then fumbled, and Stave fell on the ball. But the Badgers were out of timeouts. The clock kept ticking. And ticking. And ticking. And 25 seconds elapsed between plays.
It didn't matter, as Stave's pass on fourth down was also incomplete, but boy, the word "urgency" better be defined and memorized in Madison this week.
- - -
Nick Bromberg contributed to this post