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SMITH COLUMN: SEC continues to flex muscles on football field

September 4, 2012

Smith

The success of the Southeastern Conference is worth bragging about at every opportunity.

As far as the first weekend of football goes, it doesn't get much better than what the SEC was able to accomplish out of the gate. The league doesn't appear to be ready to relinquish its standing as the toughest in the country.

The SEC was 9-2 in non-conference games during the first week of the season and out-scored its opponents 438-182. The only losses came when Clemson defeated Auburn 26-19 on Saturday night in the Georgia Dome and when Kentucky lost a 32-14 decision to rival Louisville on Sunday.

Obviously, the most impressive result of the weekend was Alabama's 41-14 victory over previously top 10 ranked Michigan. The Crimson Tide jumped into the No. 1 spot in The Associated Press rankings Tuesday after that showing.

The defending national champion looks every bit the part of having the type of squad that can be holding another championship trophy in January, but there's a great deal more of the season left with many more challenges ahead.

After its home opener against Western Kentucky Saturday, Alabama makes the trip to Arkansas on Sept. 15 for a game of huge importance in the SEC Western Division. It will be the first SEC game televised by CBS this season.

South Carolina and Vanderbilt showed last Thursday what can happen when two SEC opponents go against each other. Most of the time the games are close and competitive. The Commodores were leading the ranked Gamecocks in the second half before Steve Spurrier's squad made plays at the end to pull it out.

Another one of those SEC matchups takes place Saturday morning in Starkville when Mississippi State hosts Auburn.

There will be much more written and discussed on this game as the week progresses, but the Bulldogs need to beat the Tigers if they are to make the type of move desired in the SEC West.

MSU looked very good in defeating Jackson State 56-9, but must carry that momentum into the Auburn game.

A quick start could be just the order of the day because if the Bulldog fans at Davis Wade Stadium have a reason to get excited early, they will make it difficult on the Auburn players.

Road environments in the SEC are as tough as any in the country and Mississippi State has gotten better over the last few season, especially under coach Dan Mullen, of providing the homefield advantage needed to help the Bulldogs win.

At SEC Media Days, Mullen said MSU being able to sell out the stadium has gone a long way in the success the program has achieved over the last couple of years.

"They said if you win, we sell the stadium, but it doesn't work that way," Mullen said. "If you sell the stadium, we win. They started buying into that. You see them now with consecutive sellouts."

Excitement has been building for the Bulldogs after three-straight Egg Bowl victories over Ole Miss and two-consecutive bowl wins against Michigan and Wake Forest.

Imagine what beating Auburn would do Saturday.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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