I got in an argument this week over what UK’s season would be like had, by some miracle, Cam Newton opted to play for Kentucky. One of my friends argued that UK would be 9-0, just like Auburn is with Newton. I said that was absolutely ridiculous. They would be unquestionably better, but not 9-0, and I stand by that.
It got me thinking though, what would some of the other SEC teams look like with Newton under center? In terms of personnel and offensive scheme, Auburn is just about the perfect fit for Newton. He’s in a spot where his running ability and rocket arm are maximized, but he’s not asked to grasp a ridiculously intricate passing game. With that said, Newton is so good that he would most certainly help any team. Well, here’s how I think Newton would impact each of the teams in the SEC.
Alabama (currently 7-2) – That’s a bit of a frightening thought. ‘Bama’s two losses are to South Carolina and LSU. In Newton’s games against those opponents, he has a combined 393 rushing yards. Nick Saban would have to shuffle things around, but can you imagine a Newton/Mark Ingram/Trent Richardson backfield?
With Newton – Likely unbeaten
Arkansas (currently 7-2) – Maybe the team that Newton would help least. Ryan Mallett is the exact kind of QB Bobby Petrino loves. He can throw every route in the book. Newton has a comparably strong arm, but the offense would have to be restructured significantly.
With Newton – No better than 8-1
Florida (currently 6-3) – If Newton had stayed in Gainesville, he would have had two seasons in Urban Meyer’s system under his belt. Those early season offensive struggles as Jeff Brantley was getting used to starting, bye bye. UF lost to Alabama, LSU, and Mississippi State. With Newton, I think only Alabama would have a chance of beating them.
With Newton – 8-1 or 9-0
Georgia (currently 5-5) – Aaron Murray has been pretty solid as a freshman starter, but it’s hard to see a Cam Newton quarterbacked team losing a game to Colorado.
With Newton – 8-2
Kentucky (currently 5-5) – In the Brooks/Phillips era, UK has not had a true dual threat QB other than Shane Boyd, who never really caught on. It’s hard to forecast a seamless transition, but he would make this team much better.
With Newton – 8-2 or 7-3
LSU (currently 8-1) – With a really crappy QB duo of Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee, Les Miles has cobbled together an 8-1 record. Their only loss came at the hands of Newton and Auburn and it’s really tough to see them losing if you put Newton in the purple and gold.
With Newton – Likely unbeaten
Mississippi State (currently 7-2) – This has been a dream season for MSU, but could it have been ever more special had Newton chosen to play in Starkville (and that dude had not demanded $180k)? Their losses came at the hands of LSU and Auburn. They would have won at least one of those games with Newton, especially since Dan Mullen is well versed in coaching QB’s like Newton (and Newton specifically).
With Newton – No more than one loss
Ole Miss (currently 4-5) – Well, I think we can safely say they wouldn’t have lost to Jacksonville State and Vandy with Cam Newton.
With Newton – 7-2
Tennessee (currently 3-6) – The Vols have a lot more holes than just at QB, but Newton has disguised plenty of Auburn’s shortcomings, especially on defense.
With Newton – 5-4
Vanderbilt (currently 2-7) – First of all, let me say that yes, I do realize how ridiculous the notion of Cam Newton playing at Vandy is. However, Newton would make an anemic offense just a bit dangerous.
With Newton 5-4 or 4-5
You know what the nice thing is about a hypothetical like this one: there’s no way anyone can prove me wrong. What you can do though is argue against me, which I invite you to do in the comments if you’re so inclined.
Anyway, since I spent a bit more time on my intro than usual, I’m going to cut down my recaps of this week’s games just a bit.
#12 LSU 24 #5 Alabama 21
Even with Auburn atop the SEC West standings and positioned for the national title game, I think pretty much everybody still figured that the road to the championship would go through the Alabama Crimson Tide. They had their destiny in their own hands…until the Mad Hatter came a-calling. Much maligned QB Jordan Jefferson played the best game of his collegiate career, the Tigers rushed for 225 yards, and Les Miles was up to his usual shenanigans.
I thought this would be a close game, but I did not see LSU putting up 433 yards of offense and not turning the ball over once. LSU’s vaunted defense held Alabama’s suddenly pedestrian running game to barely 100 yards, and Greg McElroy was asked to shoulder the load. McElroy was decent, but Julio Jones, Marquise Maze, and company just couldn’t get loose for the big play, failing to catch a pass of more than 19 yards. LSU, though, had plenty of big plays and threw a wrench into the Tide’s plans.
#17 Arkansas 41 #18 South Carolina 20
This is perhaps the clearest statement of the SEC West’s superiority over the East. Arkansas went into Columbia and absolutely demolished the home standing Gamecocks, with Ryan Mallett going for another 300 yard performance. However, the ground game was the story. South Carolina entered the game boasting the bruising running back in Marcus Lattimore, but it was Arkansas and Knile Davis that got it done. Lattimore rushed for 30 yards on 11 carries (while nursing an ankle injury), while Davis ran for 110 yards and three TD’s. Stephen Garcia (14-29 161 yards and two picks) showed he is very average without a strong running game.
Nonetheless, USC holds their SEC East destiny in their own hands heading into a showdown with Florida this weekend.
Florida 55 Vanderbilt 14
Vandy is flat out horrendous on offense. As a team, they were 10-27 passing for just 63 yards. Amazingly, they were even worse on the ground (38 carries for 46 yards). Florida did basically whatever they wanted, coasting to a 41-0 halftime lead. Reinstated RB Chris Rainey led the way, blocking a pair of punts and catching a long touchdown.
#2 Auburn 62 Chattanooga 24
Auburn scored TD’s on seven of their eight first half drives, including five by the repeatedly aforementioned Cam Newton. In the second half, Chattanooga held onto the ball for a few long drives against the characteristically porous Auburn defense, but the Tiger offense remains scary as ever.
Georgia 55 Idaho State 7
By halftime, Georgia held a 41-0 lead and had allowed just 36 total yards. AJ Green had a big day even though he played basically half a game, catching six balls for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Keep an eye on the Bulldogs this weekend when they travel to play Auburn. I’m telling you, far stranger things have happened.
Kentucky 49 Charleston Southern 21
Tennessee 50 Memphis 14
After the Vols fell behind 7-0, QB Tyler Bray went crazy, tossing five first half touchdown passes en route to a 40-7 halftime lead.
Ole Miss 43 Louisiana-Lafayette 21
Ole Miss jumped out to an early 27-7 lead, but the Ragin’ Cajuns closed to within 27-21 in the second quarter and were down just 30-21 at the half. A 13-0 second half removed any doubt from this one, as the Rebels rushed for nearly 300 yards.
1. Auburn 10-0 (6-0) – Almost there, but three tests remain; will they survive?
2. LSU 8-1 (5-1) – They need some help, but they are in the national title picture
3. Alabama 7-2 (4-2) – Very disappointing season. Win over Auburn would do a lot a lot to help forget it all.
4. Arkansas 7-2 (4-2) – Bobby Petrino just gets it done, end of season win over LSU could propel them to 10-2
5. Mississippi State 7-2 (4-2) – Trip to Tuscaloosa up next: will Tide be motivated or disinterested?
6. Florida 6-3 (4-3) – Win over USC this week would restore SEC East order
7. South Carolina 6-3 (4-3) – Can they overcome egg laying vs. Arkansas and come to play in the Swamp?
8. Georgia 5-5 (3-4) – Win @ Auburn would be gigantic for Richt and company
9. Ole Miss 4-5 (1-4) – Head to head win over UK gives them #9 spot
10. Kentucky 5-5 (1-5)
11. Tennessee 3-6 (0-5) – Three winnable games could get them to bowl eligibility
12. Vanderbilt 2-7 (1-5) – They’re fortunate they got that SEC win early, because it doesn’t look like they’ll get another