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The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

Barnhart's Take: Week 3

2263 days ago
Tony Barnhart | SEC Network
Photo: Ole Miss Athletics

In the heat of summer we are absolutely, positively certain that football season will never get here.

Then suddenly it's Week Three and a bunch of important stuff is starting to happen. Here is what I mean as we look at some of the most important story lines for Saturday:

Ole Miss tries to make history

Over the past two seasons Alabama has gone 26-3 with two SEC championships and one national championship. Two of those three Alabama losses have been to Ole Miss (the other was to Ohio State in the semifinals of the College Football Playoff in 2014).

When the Rebels won 43-37 last season in Tuscaloosa, they became only the second SEC team to beat a Nick Saban-coached Alabama team in two consecutive meetings (LSU did it in 2010-11).

On Saturday Ole Miss will try to bite off a real big chunk of history when it faces Alabama at home (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS). No SEC team has beaten Nick Saban three straight times. In fact, only twice in Saban's ultra-successful career has he lost three straight games to the same team. It happened against Michigan (1996-98) and Purdue (1997-99) when Saban was the head coach at Michigan State.

Ole Miss will also be trying to post its first win ever against a No. 1 ranked team. The Rebels are 0-9 against No. 1 and were outscored by an average of 21.8 points in those losses.

And here is a fun note: Since losing to Ole Miss at home last season the Crimson Tide has won 14 straight games. A win would give Alabama its third 15-game winning streak under Saban.

Like brother vs. brother

Kevin Steele and John Chavis were high school teammates and close friends as they grew up in Dillion, S.C. They both decided to play football at Tennessee and were roommates in college. They both decided to go into coaching.

Chavis became an ultra-successful defensive coordinator at Tennessee and was a part of the Volunteers' 1998 national championship team. He went on to LSU and today is the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M.

Steele has coached at Tennessee, Alabama, LSU, Florida State, Nebraska and has been the head coach at Baylor. In fact, when Chavis left LSU for Texas A&M in 2014 he called Steele.

"You should go after this job," Chavis told Steele. Steele did and he got it. Steele was at LSU for one season when Auburn made him an offer he couldn't refuse to become the Tigers' defensive coordinator.

And so it is that Chavis and Steele will be on the opposite sidelines Saturday night when Texas A&M travels to Auburn.

It's not the first time they have faced each other, the most recent coming last season when Steele's LSU defense held Texas A&M to only a touchdown in 19-7 victory. "We're close," Steele said. "Our families vacation together. He's like my brother. But I still want to beat him."

Chavis says he tries not to think about his relationship with Steele when they square off.

"I don't pay attention to that at all. We are great friends. We were roommates in college but I don't like to get caught up on who is on the other sideline," said Chavis. "His friendship has meant a lot to me. His dad was the principal of our high school. His family has meant a lot to me. But with that being said Saturday night we're going to play ball."

If LSU is going to make a stand, it has to start Saturday night against Mississippi State

It has not been a fun start for LSU and Coach Les Miles. The Tigers' 16-14 loss to Wisconsin in the opener unleashed a lot of negative reaction from the LSU faithful. The Tigers came back last week to take care of Jacksonville State, an FCS opponent (34-13). Now the conference schedule starts with Mississippi State, Auburn, Missouri, and Florida in the next four weeks.

All-America running back Leonard Fournette, who missed last week's game with an ankle injury, is expected to return. Purdue transfer Danny Etling, who came off the bench to give LSU a spark, is expected to get his first start.

LSU was in everybody's preseason Top 10. If Miles and company are going to challenge for the SEC West championship, the Tigers need a win.

"Mentally our guys are looking forward to getting into conference play," Miles said. "They need to be ready to play and recognize that Mississippi State is a quality SEC opponent."

Florida and Tennessee have to wait one more week

One of the more anticipated conference games of the season takes place next week when Florida goes to Tennessee. But before these teams square off in Neyland Stadium on Sept. 24 they have to take care of some respectable teams from the Group of Five.

Tennessee, which was impressive in last Saturday's 45-24 win over Virginia Tech in Bristol, Tenn., will meet an Ohio University team that has been bowl eligible for nine of the past 10 seasons.
Florida, which overwhelmed Kentucky 45-7 in its SEC opener last week, takes on North Texas State.

Florida fans get another chance to watch new quarterback Luke Del Rio, who completed 19 of 32 passes for 320 yards in a 45-7 win over Kentucky.

A few more quick story lines to watch on Saturday:

  • Arkansas (2-0) is coming off one of the best wins under Coach Bret Bielema as the Razorbacks beat TCU 41-38 in double overtime. Now the Hogs have to come back down to earth against Texas State before opening up the conference season next week against Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas.
  • Kentucky (0-2, 0-1 SEC) has really struggled its first two games, giving up 1,084 yards and 89 points. The Wildcats could really use a win against New Mexico State (1-10).
  • Vanderbilt (1-1, 0-1) bounced back from a season-opening loss to South Carolina with a 47-24 win over Middle Tennessee State at home. But the Commodores may have their hands full as they go to Georgia Tech and take on the Yellow Jackets' option attack.
  • South Carolina (1-1, 0-1) had better be ready for a visit from East Carolina (2-0). The Pirates have a 5-13 record against South Carolina and are coming off a big win against N.C. State last week. Both teams have first-year head coaches in Will Muschamp (South Carolina) and Scottie Montgomery (East Carolina).