SEC Caucus: Are Mississippi teams the best in the nation right now?

first_imgMississippi State tight end Brandon Hill (18) and wide receiver Fred Brown (5) celebrate their 48-31 win over Texas A&M by singing the MSU Alma Mater at Davis Wade Stadium after their NCAA college football game in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle) ORG XMIT: MSJL143Mississippi State tight end Brandon Hill (18) and wide receiver Fred Brown (5) celebrate their 48-31 win over Texas A&M by singing the MSU Alma Mater at Davis Wade Stadium.  (Jim Lytle / AP)Once a week, USA TODAY Sports asks its network of college football experts to analyze the biggest topics in the country’s most debated conference, the SEC.EXPERT PICKS: Week 7 winners and losers This week the panel tries to decipher whether red-hot Mississippi State and Ole Miss are better than the likes of Florida State and Auburn.Laken Litman, For The Win: It’s still too early to tell. Right now, they look like two of the best teams in the country, but to flat out say they are the two best teams is presumptuous. No. 4 Ole Miss hadn’t really played anyone until knocking off No. 1 Alabama. Yes, it was a huge upset, but how good are the Crimson Tide? Some of their mistakes were self-inflicted, like missed field goals, dropped passes and silly penalties. The Rebels took advantage, but it was one win. Let’s see how they do down the SEC West gauntlet before declaring them the best.As for No. 6 Mississippi State, they beat No. 8 LSU on the road, which was a shock. Until we realized the Tigers aren’t the same Tigers they’ve been the last several years. After starting the year out ranked No. 13 in the Amway Coaches Poll, LSU has found itself unranked after two losses, including last week’s 41-7 drubbing against Auburn. The Bulldogs had one of the program’s best wins last weekend over No. 7 Texas A&M. They had a bye week before that. Let’s see how they do against No. 2 Auburn this weekend. If Dak Prescott puts up Heisman Trophy numbers again (he accounted for 345 yards and five touchdowns against the Aggies), the Bulldogs are even more for real. Even so, the season isn’t even halfway over and the SEC West is the toughest division in college football, no matter what each team’s record is.Ty Duffy, Big Lead Sports: Ole Miss and Mississippi State are not the two best teams in the country right now. Last weekend was tremendous for both schools. It was also the first of what will be many weekends with blood spilled in the SEC West. Auburn remains undefeated. The Crimson Tide, despite the loss, basically control their own destiny. Both Mississippi teams are ranked in the top three. Both are also underdogs next weekend. It’s going to be a long season.Matt Osborne, Southern Pigskin: The Rebels and Bulldogs have been exceptionally impressive through their first five contests, but they are not the two best teams in the country. Ole Miss will likely continue to be a mercurial team due to the inconsistent play of an offense led by an inconsistent quarterback. The defense, however, should make up for many of the offenses mistakes as the season wears along. Mississippi State’s offense has been producing at a high level thanks to quarterback Dak Prescott and a powerful rushing attack, but the Bulldogs currently rank 13th in the SEC in total defense, a stat which is certainly not conducive to prolonged success in the nation’s toughest conference. Though you certainly can’t discount either program as a legitimate contender for the College Football Playoff, Auburn and Florida State currently appear to be the most talented and consistent teams in the nation.Richard Brisse, Sports Glory: The best team in the nation right now is Auburn, but that could change this Saturday when the Tigers travel to Starkville to taken on Mississippi State. This will mark the third straight game the Bulldogs play a ranked opponent. A win would make them the top ranked team in the SEC. Ole Miss is coming off a huge win at home against Alabama, but they have not played a ranked opponent on the road until this week when they travel to College Station to play Texas A&M, who is coming off a 48-31 loss to Mississippi State.In the Amway Coaches Poll, Baylor and Florida State currently rank higher than Ole Miss, but both programs have not been tested like the Rebels and Bulldogs have through five weeks.In my opinion, the top three teams in the nation are Auburn, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.Robert Hess, The Sports Quotient: October 4, 2014 was one of the best days in these schools’ history. Although Ole Miss and Mississippi State might not have many future NFL players on their rosters, they have played the best football this season. The Rebels’ shutdown defense, led by star sophomore DT Robert Nkemdiche, ranks second in points allowed per game (just 10.2), and they held Alabama’s high octane offense to just 17 points. The Bulldogs, led by legitimate Heisman candidate Dak Prescott, have two top-10 wins in a row. Baylor doesn’t have the strong wins, Florida State’s defense looks suspect, and Auburn is certainly in the conversation, but I think the Mississippi schools are – at the moment – the best in the nation.Kevin Kelley, Ole Miss and Mississippi State aren’t the two best teams in the nation right now, but they’re very close. The Rebels can stake a claim to that designation with a win at No. 14 Texas A&M this weekend. Mississippi State can do that also, but the Bulldogs have a tougher task with No. 2 Auburn coming to Starkville. If both Mississippi schools are victorious on Saturday, a case can certainly be made that they are the top two teams in the country. But for right now, Florida State and Auburn deserve to be 1-2.last_img

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