Joe Medley: Sunday roundup: Flexing muscle
by Joe Medley
Nov 10, 2013 | 2713 views |  0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Auburn tight end C.J. Uzomah catches a pass for a touchdown against Tennessee. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
Auburn tight end C.J. Uzomah catches a pass for a touchdown against Tennessee. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
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What a dominant weekend by Alabama, Auburn and Jacksonville State.

Top-ranked Alabama (9-0) played keepaway from then-No. 10 LSU in the second half and turned a 17-17 game into a 38-17 rout of a once-elite rival in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

No. 7 Auburn (9-1) took the SEC’s top rushing offense on the road and rushed for 444 yards on the SEC’s worst rushing defense, and the Tigers threw in 312 kickoff- and punt-return yards in a 55-23 rout of Tennessee.

Jacksonville State (8-2) seized a symbolic moment by routing Ohio Valley Conference nemesis Eastern Kentucky 68-10 in a statement game for the era of first-year coach Bill Clark.

Many more weekends like this around here, and we’ll all be intolerable.

Alabama: Contrast clear

So, this year’s Alabama-LSU game did have some game-of-the-century trappings, with the likes of Derek Jeter and Phil Knight roaming the sideline and the big-game atmosphere served up in Bryant-Denny.

But two years after the “Game of the Century,” this was no matchup of the century. Alabama remains a championship-level team, but LSU is not.

If it wasn’t clear after LSU’s first two losses this season, it should be after Alabama asserted itself in scoring the final 21 points to hand the Tigers their third Saturday.

The Tigers don’t have the elite defense of years past, especially against the run. With every AJ McCarron handoff to T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake in the final quarter and a half, LSU’s will faded.

So did LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger’s influence. It’s hard to score points from the bench.

So much for one of Alabama’s major tests this season. Texas A&M proved to be that in the second game, when Alabama was more vulnerable. Auburn could be that in three weeks.

But LSU? Not so much.

Auburn: Amen

Auburn has reached “Amen Corner” still a top-10 team with one loss, and it’s worth a pause before discussions turn to Georgia and Alabama to note what’s been done.

The Tigers are assured of at least reversing their 3-9 record of a year ago by regular season’s end.

Just one year after Auburn went 0-8 in SEC play, the Tigers are assured a winning record in league play and control their destiny in the SEC West Division race.

They’ve played their way into discussions for an at-large berth in a Bowl Championship Series bowl, and a BCS bowl would find an excuse to take Auburn. Bowl people want energized fan bases, and there’s not a fan base in the country that would be more pumped than Auburn’s.

The Tigers came into this season regarded as a six- or seven-win team, at best. So far, they’ve played one bad half, the first half at LSU.

They beat a top-10 team on the road, at Texas A&M. They dominated road games at Arkansas and Tennessee, and Tennessee was supposed to be the team that plays over its head at home.

It’s a remarkable turnaround for Auburn, regardless of what happens next.

JSU: Now, isn’t that better?

Oh, admit it. The thought occurred.

As JSU’s lead built on EKU in the second quarter, it was tempting to wonder, “Surely, this lead is safe!?”

There was a lot of value in the Gameocks’ rout of Eastern Kentucky, from slaying demons in the series to beating a team picked ahead of JSU in preseason to enhancing JSU’s playoff chances.

The biggest value, however, was the important mile marker on the road to a fan base buying into a first-year coach. Clark’s team put its foot on the neck of EKU and kept it there.

It wasn’t like two years ago, when former JSU found a way to blow a 24-point lead in the final seven minutes against the Colonels under Jack Crowe.

It was the reverse of other recent games in the series, when EKU put its foot on JSU’s neck and kept it there.

Saturday’s game was a moment for Clark to contrast the regime he replaced. That wasn’t his or his team’s mission going into the game, but they seized the moment, anyway.

Sports columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576, jmedley@annistonstar.com. On Twitter @jmedley_star.
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