Road to Atlanta Week Seven: Battle of the bottomfeeders

The Commodores play football at Ole Miss on Saturday, October 14, 2017. Photo by Claire Barnett.

While Georgia continues to stand alone at the top of the SEC East, bottomfeeder Missouri has some company in Vanderbilt and Tennessee, both of whom are also winless in conference play. In between are Florida, South Carolina, and Kentucky, who should all make bowl games but are unlikely to challenge Georgia for the East title.

Missouri kept the game against Georgia close deep into the first half until the Bulldogs scored 26 unanswered points on their way to a 53-28 victory. Georgia’s running backs are some of the most talented backs in the nation, and they helped the Bulldogs hold the ball for nearly 40 minutes.

The rest of Georgia’s offense was clicking too. Georgia gained 696 yards, 326 of which were passing yards from freshman phenom Jake Fromm.

Missouri quarterback Drew Lock threw for four touchdowns and an interception, but the ground game only contributed 59 yards. Wide receiver Emanuel Hall caught two touchdowns on four catches.

Missouri’s defense collapsed again, and gave the offense no chance to come back after the third quarter. The Tigers are now allowing an average of 42.2 points per game under the direction of second-year head coach and defensive specialist Barry Odom.

Tennessee’s offensive woes continued in a 15-9 loss to South Carolina. The Volunteers have gone 10 quarters since they last scored a touchdown and have since switched starting quarterbacks.

South Carolina sacked Jarrett Guarantano seven times in his first collegiate start. The Gamecocks also shut down running back John Kelly, who averaged just 3.6 yards on 16 rushes.

South Carolina’s offense relied on short passes to sustain long drives. Jake Bentley’s longest throw of the day was only a 17-yard toss to Bryan Edwards.

Vanderbilt’s entire defense fell apart in the Commodore’s 57-35 loss to Ole Miss. While the Commodores held the Rebels to a 27% conversion rate on third downs, they still allowed over 600 yards of offense.

Ralph Webb did his best to breathe life into the Commodore offense by rushing for 163 yards and two touchdowns in a performance reminiscent of his dominance in previous seasons. The offensive line continues to be a problem for Vanderbilt. The line let the Rebels tally seven sacks and eight tackles for loss in the game.

Florida lost at home, 19-17 to Texas A&M. The defense looked sharp as always, but the offense was abysmal.

Quarterback Feleipe Franks threw two costly interceptions, including one on the first play of the Gators’ final drive that effectively ended the game. He averaged five yards per attempt, even though Florida’s receivers are speedy enough to catch up to deep throws.

Kentucky had the weekend off to fix its offensive line so running back Benny Snell Jr. can run free.

In Week 8, Missouri hosts Idaho, and the Tigers need this contest get the defense back on track. Tennessee visits Alabama in what could be head coach Butch Jones’ final game for the Volunteers if Tennessee plays poorly enough in the rivalry game. Kentucky travels to Starkville to play Mississippi State, whose defensive line has the talent to wreak havoc on the Wildcat’s offensive line. Florida, Georgia, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina all have the week off.

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