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Hot Reads: The 'King of Pop' serenades the SEC

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There are happy times in Auburn after a 3-0 start. We'll see if the party lasts beyond a trip to Baton Rouge this weekend. (Source: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University) There are happy times in Auburn after a 3-0 start. We'll see if the party lasts beyond a trip to Baton Rouge this weekend. (Source: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University)
Will Muschamp and the Gators have to find a way to put some, shall we say, "bite" into their offense. (Source: UF Communications) Will Muschamp and the Gators have to find a way to put some, shall we say, "bite" into their offense. (Source: UF Communications)
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(RNN) - Someone cue the Michael Jackson music because it's about to get awfully interesting around here.

Remember the Time… any team Nick Saban coached wasn't threatened by an opponent that couldn't play defense. Thanks, Kevin Sumlin, for showing us a whole new world. Your game Saturday was a Thrilleeeeeer!

Got to Be There… when Ole Miss finally makes good on all that high school talent it raked in. It could be sooner than later.

Billie Jean… probably had an easier time identifying her baby's daddy than Mississippi State will have identifying its quarterback. Just saying.

Don't Be Messin' Around… Arkansas. Your running game has been stout, but that's against defenses comparable to St. Mary's School for Wayward Girls. You get a much tougher test with Rutgers this week.

Scream… a common reaction for Will Muschamp and Butch Jones every time their offensive coordinators call passing plays.

Smooth Criminal... Pac 12 officials. 'Nuff said.

Wanna Be Startin' Something? Well then, let's go ahead and do this.

SEC vs. SEC

Tennessee at Florida, 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday

Bad… That's all you need to know about either of these teams' passing offenses. At least it'll be a quick game. These guys will run the ball so much the clock will never stop.

This is nothing new for the Gators, who have not had anything that resembled a passing game since some dude whose first and last name started with the same letter left town. But last season, at least they could rely on a strong running game.

Not so much now. They're third from the bottom in the league in rushing yards and dead last in points scored. At least the defense is good - really good, actually.

Tennessee's performance against Oregon makes them seem suspect, but don't be totally fooled by that. The Volunteers can handle Florida's style of offense because they see it every day in practice. But just like Florida, they have some issues on the other side of the ball.

Tennessee was running the ball effectively against the Ducks, but there were holes in the secondary on soooo many plays that the Vols didn't exploit.

No one is asking Justin Worley to chunk the ball down the field a dozen times a game. He doesn't have to. But he - or whoever is the flavor of the week at QB1 - has to hit open receivers in space on a consistent basis. That's the only thing preventing Tennessee from becoming a dangerous team.

Whoever takes better care of the ball wins. Only four teams in the entire country have a worse turnover margin than Florida. On the other hand, Tennessee is tied for fourth best.

Auburn at LSU, 7:45 p.m. ET Saturday

Night Time Lover… The Bayou Bengals are all about their nighttime advantage in Death Valley, and War Eagle is still soaring coming off a primetime win against Mississippi State (As an aside, it's a tad creepy that Michael and his sister, LaToya, sang this song as a duet. Not just because it was LaToya, but because it was, well, his sister).

LSU can do whatever it needs to do to move the ball, including making people disappear. Literally, the offensive linemen can be so physical they clear defenders totally out of the play. They've only allowed two sacks, but the quarterback gets a lot of the credit for that.

To say Zach Mettenberger has been good would be slightly understating things. He is the first LSU quarterback in team history to throw for nine total touchdowns and at least 250 yards in each of the first three games of a season.

And it does help to have receivers like Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, plus the law firm of Hill, Blue, Magee and Associates in the backfield.

Auburn is an interesting team. The Tigers produced an uncharacteristic 339 passing yards last weekend, even more impressive considering Mississippi State's meal ticket has been its pass defense.

We would like to wish Nick Marshall all the best in trying to come close to a similar performance against LSU. Really, he doesn't have to light up the air as long as the running game is clicking, but even that will be tough.

The defensive Bayou Bengals are fast, physical and they match up well with Auburn's ground game. But LSU rotates as many as eight true freshmen on that side of the ball, an enormous number for any team, much less an SEC elite ranked in the top 10.

Here's some food for thought. LSU was in a similar position last season when it was 3-0 against two cupcakes and one decent squad and then barely survived a trip to The Plains. Also, the last time LSU lost a game in September was 2006 - to Auburn.

So, Ole Miss is for real, right?

Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough… of watching what will be one of the most exciting teams in the SEC.

Hot Reads was noncommittal about endorsing the arrival of the Rebels as a true contender two weeks ago, but every Saturday brings something more to love.

First, there's Bo Wallace and his refusal to throw an interception the first three games. He had thrown all of three passes before Central Arkansas picked him off for the first time last season.

We'd like to say something about Jeff Scott, but even in slow motion, it's hard to accurately capture his movement in film study. We will say one thing, though. Arkansas and Missouri are statistically 1-2 in the SEC in rushing, but Ole Miss should be first. You and 10 buddies at a tailgate party could probably stop the run better than the teams the Razorbacks and Tigers have played so far.

Speaking of defense, the Rebels are putting some grown men on the field this year. The technique, the physicality - it's all there, and that's without all-SEC linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche setting foot on the field the last two games because of a knee injury.

We will again defer judgment on just how good the Rebels are. But we may have a definitive answer after the Alabama game.

Ole Miss is like Texas A&M, except with a defense, so Alabama caught a break with a bye week in between these two games.

If you think it's a stretch to say that, then Hot Reads has a little surprise for you in the game preview next week.

There's life outside the SEC?

Arkansas at Rutgers, 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday

The Girl is Mine… Since Jen Bielema believes in #karma, she'll love this: Arkansas, the top rushing team in the SEC, meets a Rutgers defense that ranks fifth nationally in run defense. Unlike the Razorbacks, the Fightin' New Jerseyans have actually played a team with a pulse.

If the running game is legit, this matchup is a dream come true for old-school pigskin fans.

Paul James leads Rutgers and the country in total rushing yards, and Arkansas tailbacks Alex Collins (fourth) and Jonathan Williams (seventh) aren't far down on the list.

Beyond that lies another similarity for these teams - the quarterback situation is shaky due to injury.

Arkansas' Brandon Allen has a bruised throwing shoulder, and Rutgers' Gary Nova suffered a concussion last week.

Arkansas' defense has been lights out so far - but again, that's against grandma and the paper boy - so this game is good test before they get into the teeth of conference play.

Stat of the Week

10: For all the talk of Jadeveon Clowney's struggles, South Carolina leads the SEC in quarterback sacks. Make of that what you will, but maybe his "presence" really is enough to make a difference. Or maybe the other 10 guys on the field don't get enough credit.

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