Roughly halfway through the college football season and only one SEC team comes to Brad Nessler’s mind when the topic of struggling comes up: Auburn.
The SEC on CBS announcer joined me and Lee Shirvanian on “The Opening Kickoff” on WNSP-FM 105.5 on Wednesday to talk about the state of the conference.
“Auburn is surprising me with how they aren’t playing well,” said Nessler, who will be on the call Saturday when Georgia takes on LSU at 2:30 p.m. on CBS. “I don’t get it. The offensive line has had problems. What’s happened to (quarterback) Jarrett (Stidham)? I think if they had (running back) Kerryon (Johnson) back, it would help the cause. I don’t know what’s going on there.”
Nessler said he thought Gus Malzahn’s Tigers should have beaten LSU but lost 22-21.
“I know the people aren’t happy,” he said. “They are struggling.”
Two teams Nessler said aren’t struggling are Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide and the No. 2-ranked Georgia Bulldogs.
“Alabama deserves to be where they are right now, being ranked No. 1,” Nessler said. “There are some cracks in the armor against Arkansas. I know Nick is trying to fill in those cracks right now. I don’t know if he has the people he’s had in the past to fill those issues. They deserve to be where they are.”
Kirby Smart, meanwhile, will find out what kind of team he has this Saturday.
“I really don’t think they’ve played anybody, all due respect to the teams they’ve beaten. They should’ve beaten those teams. … Starting with LSU, we find out what they are made of because they still have Kentucky, Florida and Auburn still to come. That’s the stretch we’ll find out how good Georgia is.”
Of course, he pointed out the same could be said about Alabama, who still has LSU and Auburn.
Some other observations:
Nessler on Texas A&M: “I have to give Texas A&M credit. They still have a tough haul. What they have done under Jimbo (Fisher) has been pretty good.
On Florida: “I was impressed with Florida last week, not necessarily their offense but the fact they played really physical and beat a really good LSU team with their defense. I think they are better than I thought they would be.”
On LSU: “At the beginning of the season if you had told me LSU was 5-0 last week and 5-1 this week and ranked No. 13, I probably would’ve said, ‘I doubt that.'”
While two SEC teams – Alabama and Georgia – are sitting atop the AP Top 25, Nessler said the team sitting at No. 5 could wreak havoc with the CFP.
He sees a scenario where the undefeated Tide and Bulldogs meet in the SEC Championship Game with perfect Notre Dame lurking.
“So, you take a one-loss team that was ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the country and take them out of the mix?” Nessler explained. “Notre Dame is definitely going to have some say in this. If they run the table, it really shakes things up. I can see the committee and the whole system might change faster than we think because if Notre Dame gets there – and its only one SEC team – you’re going to leave several conferences out.
“If two SEC teams and Notre Dame make it, they are going to blow the whole thing up because the rest of college football world will be going, ‘What about us? What about our conference? What about our team?”
Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Heim.