You might be wondering: Are there any actual rules here at the Tuck Rules? We’re glad you asked, because these are three of the most important:
- Never, ever give Alabama a reason to play harder.
- Always, always cover the wide receiver.
- Do not, under any circumstances, visit an Arkansas fan message board after a loss. (Caveat: Unless you want to be wildly entertained.)
Vanderbilt, Kentucky and someone who gets mad online under the pseudonym “Doctor Susscrofa” — really clever, by the way (sus scrofa is a wild pig) — taught us what can happen when you violate these important laws of SEC football.
The Commodores decided to trash-talk the No. 1 team in America and ended up on the bloody end of a snuff film. That box score is blowout-porn, not-safe-for-work kind of stuff. It is as thoroughly and gorily as you’ll ever see one Power 5 team dismember another.
The Wildcats decided to leave a Florida wide receiver totally unguarded — twice! — and paid the price, surrendering two walk-in touchdowns in a one-point defeat during which they blew a 13-point, fourth-quarter lead and also held on the final offensive play to push a game-winning field goal out of range. That, folks, is precisely how you lose 31 consecutive games to one team.
The Razorbacks fell short in a 50-43 shootout with Texas A&M, unofficially the Hot Seat Bowl, making it five losses in the last seven games. The “FIRE BRET BIELEMA!” thread on one Arkansas message board was sizzling. Ol’ Doc Susscrofa cut right to the chase: “No more Hog Football,” he wrote. “End the program now.”
That seems extreme. But not dissimilar to the digital water-cooler discourse among fans of Tennessee, South Carolina and LSU, which narrowly escaped Massachusetts, Louisiana Tech and Syracuse, respectively, last week. Aggies and Gators faithful were surely relieved but not entirely encouraged to survive close calls with the Hogs and Cats.
The list of teams feeling great about themselves heading into Week 5 is short: Alabama (59-0 over Vandy), Georgia (31-3 over Mississippi State) and Auburn (51-14 over Missouri). The SEC is no longer the big, bad wolf — but there is at least a glimmer of hope that someone other than the Tide can be championship-caliber.
Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs have now won at Notre Dame and dismantled Mississippi State just one week after Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs blasted LSU. A trip to Tennessee this weekend, where Butch Jones already has compiled his long list of excuses for losing, offers Georgia the chance to establish itself as the new King of the East. (Which in this case might actually be something more than biggest flea.)
Mississippi State, meanwhile, will travel to Auburn to try to prove it is more like the team that reminded us LSU actually hired Ed Orgeron full-time than the squad that apparently never got off the bus in Athens. Gus Malzahn’s Tigers will have something to say about that as we try to decipher whether they’re actually any good.
Auburn has blown out Georgia Southern and the Missouri Dumpster Fires, struggled with Mercer and lost a rock fight with No. 2 Clemson. Doing some quick math, that’s roughly a whole bunch of who the heck knows.
As for the other half of the Iron Bowl, a prediction: There will be (more) blood. Alabama is hosting Ole Miss, which has beaten the Crimson Tide twice in the last three years. The Rebels, humbled by a losing 2016 season, NCAA investigation and disgraced former coach, aren’t foolishly running their mouths like Vanderbilt. Doesn’t matter.
“I think the ultimate disrespect,” Nick Saban said this week, “is when someone quietly thinks they have your number.”
Oh, you evil genius. And poor Ole Miss, trying to tiptoe around that bear and the freaking thing poked itself. It could get ugly.
That, and the other four Week 5 games featuring two SEC teams, ranked in descending order of intrigue: No. 7 Georgia at Tennessee (3:30 p.m., CBS), No. 24 Mississippi State at No. 13 Auburn (6 p.m., ESPN), Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama (9 p.m., ESPN), South Carolina at Texas A&M (7:30 p.m., SEC Network) and Vanderbilt at No. 21 Florida (noon, ESPN).
The games we’ll skip but might be worth monitoring message boards after: New Mexico State at Arkansas (noon, SEC Network), Eastern Michigan at Kentucky (4 p.m., SEC Network) and Troy at No. 25 LSU (7 p.m., ESPNU). Have a great weekend and follow the rules, everybody.
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