Road to Atlanta Week Six: Top Dawgs in the East

The Commodores play Georgia on Saturday, October 7, 2017. Photo by Claire Barnett.

Another week has passed with very similar results as the previous five. Georgia continued to assert its dominance over the rest of the SEC East with a 45-14 victory at Vanderbilt. Out of the middle of the pack, South Carolina had the most impressive performance, a 48-22 win over Arkansas.

Georgia, the No. 5 team in the country, relied on its running game to take control of the game. The Bulldogs ran for 423 yards on 54 carries. Each of their top three running backs, Sony Michel, Nick Chubb and Elijah Holyfield, scored at least one touchdown with Chubb contributing two.

Georgia’s defense shut down the Vanderbilt rushing attack led by Ralph Webb. Webb ran for 47 yards and a touchdown, but the rest of the run game was nearly nonexistent.

Vanderbilt’s defense added two sacks to bring their season total to 14. Nifae Lealao also recovered a fumble late in the contest.

South Carolina’s defense scored just as many touchdowns as the offense in their game against Arkansas. The Gamecocks returned two interceptions and a fumble for touchdowns, and added another three scores by way of Jake Bentley passing touchdowns .

One problem that the Gamecocks desperately need to fix is the kicking game. Parker White went 2-for-4 on field goals against Arkansas, but sits at just 4-for-11 on the season. While his two misses did not matter much in Week 6, his inconsistency could play a role in the upcoming divisional slate.

Florida’s luck finally ran out in the Gators’ 17-16 loss to LSU. The one-point margin resulted from a missed extra point by Florida. On the play, the ball was still spinning as kicker Eddy Pineiro made contact with it, causing the shanked kick.

Running back Malik Davis averaged over 6.4 yards per carry, and Lamical Perine added two touchdowns on the ground for the Gators.

Florida’s defense recorded seven tackles for loss and limited star LSU running back Derrius Guice to just 50 yards.

Kentucky moved to 5-1 on the year with a 40-34 win over Missouri. The game was closer than expected, and Kentucky gave up three double-digit leads.

Missouri’s offense reappeared after failing to show up for the previous three games. Drew Lock threw for 355 yards and three touchdowns in an impressive performance for the junior quarterback. Lock was aided by a strong game from the running back duo of Ish Witter and Damarea Crockett, who combined for 213 yards on the ground.

Missouri fumbled the ball twice, with Lock and Crockett committing the turnovers.

Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson led the Wildcats offense by throwing for 298 yards on the night. He also added 44 rushing yards, and his dual-threat ability shined. His favorite target on the night was Garrett Johnson, who caught seven passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.

Tennessee had an bye week to evaluate what has been a disappointing season so far.

In Week 7, South Carolina heads to Knoxville to play Tennessee. Vanderbilt goes on the road to play Ole Miss. Florida hosts Texas A&M, and Georgia hosts Missouri to round out the schedule. Kentucky takes the week off.

Georgia has pulled away from the rest of the division to become a frontrunner not only to win the SEC East, but to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff at the season’s end. South Carolina and Kentucky are pushing Florida for the divisional runner-up spot. Vanderbilt and Tennessee are not competitive enough to challenge the upper echelon of the East, but they create their own tier of teams above Missouri.

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