Top-ranked Alabama (5-0) handled Georgia State like one would expect, winning 45-3 in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Auburn (4-1) improved to 2-1 SEC with a mild upset of then-No. 24 Ole Miss, winning 30-22 in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Jacksonville State (5-1) bounced back from its overtime loss to Murray State with a 41-27 victory at Tennessee-Martin, then Football Championship Subdivision’s 22nd-ranked team.
Alabama, Auburn and JSU winning on the same weekend didn’t happen in 2012, but it’s happened three times this season. Also, Auburn and JSU won during Alabama’s open date (Sept. 7).
Loss-free weekends just make everybody feel ducky, don’t they?
Alabama: The standard
OK, so let’s be real about the opponent the Crimson Tide rolled Saturday. Winless Georgia State also lost to Jacksonville State, a Football Championship Subdivision team.
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron hit on 15 of 16 passes for a school record 98.3 percent completion rate? Nice, but backup Blake Sims, known more as read-option quarterback, was 14-for-18 (77.8 percent).
JSU passed for 339 yards against GSU.
What’s encouraging for Alabama is the Tide played to “the standard” in all phases of the game for the first time this season. Alabama could name its score and did, scoring all of its points by the 6:18 mark of the third quarter.
Alabama’s offensive line allowed no sacks and only two tackles for loss. The defense allowed just nine first downs. Alabama has just four penalties and no turnovers.
Much like it did against Western Carolina last season, Alabama played up to its standard, not down to the opponent. The Tide should get plenty of practice at that during this soft middle of the schedule.
Auburn: Jake and the big men
Jake Holland might be the most maligned middle linebacker in college football and was booed by some Auburn fans during lineup introductions before Saturday’s game, but he went unnoticed the rest of the night.
He had two tackles and a quarterback hurry, but the guys in front of him gave him a light night. Auburn’s defensive line had all six of the Tigers’ sacks and 12.5 of the Tigers’ 14 tackles for loss.
Auburn’s defensive lines have been overpowered since 2010, when a guy named Nick Fairley couldn’t be blocked. When the line gets overpowered, so does the middle linebacker.
There are reasons why Holland is a third-year starter, however. Three different defensive coordinators clearly believed a better option hadn’t developed, and that likely has more to do with leadership and making the right calls.
If Saturday was any indication of how Auburn’s defensive line will play the rest of the year, then maybe Holland’s strengths will show through more than his perceived weakness.
JSU: Carryover meets results
Lost in all of the turnovers and missed opportunities that marked JSU’s loss to Murray State on Sept. 28 was just how well the Gamecocks’ offense and defense otherwise played in the second half.
It all came together in a way not seen before the final two quarters of regulation. An inspired defense pretty much locked down a high-powered offense, and JSU’s offense ran when it wanted to run and passed when it wanted to pass.
That mojo carried over into JSU’s game at UT-Martin. Running back DeMarcus James ran for 184 yards and three touchdowns for the third consecutive game. Quarterback Max Shortell shook off his three interceptions against Murray State and threw for 226 yards, two touchdowns and no picks at Martin.
A defense that spent 36-plus minutes on the field helped JSU lead throughout the game.
The victory in a losable OVC road game helped to mitigate a loss that shouldn’t have happened at home, and JSU is 5-1 under first-year coach Bill Clark.
Now, let’s see if JSU can keep up that level of play while facing the OVC’s top three preseason picks over the next five games.
Sports columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576, firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @jmedley_star.