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SEC Power Rankings Week Four: Tebow Time

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SEC Power Rankings Week Four: Tebow Time

Vanderbilt beats No. 18 Kansas State 14-7 on September 16, 2017.

Vanderbilt beats No. 18 Kansas State 14-7 on September 16, 2017.

Emily Goncalves

Vanderbilt beats No. 18 Kansas State 14-7 on September 16, 2017.

Emily Goncalves

Emily Goncalves

Vanderbilt beats No. 18 Kansas State 14-7 on September 16, 2017.

Simon Gibbs, Senior Writer

“Shurmur picks it up on third down, fakes the throw, goes to the end-zone, stretches…”

Oh, what a weekend it was. Another week, another electric Vanderbilt win.

Unlike the first two games of the season, this one was low scoring and incredibly close.

Tied at seven with only eight and a half minutes left in the game, Kyle Shurmur lined up under center on third and goal. The snap was low; it could’ve easily resulted in a fumble, but Shurmur worked his magic. The rest was history.

“…And he got it! Touchdown Vanderbilt!”

The crowd went into a frenzy after he scrambled to paydirt. This touchdown ended up sealing the deal for the Commodores in a 14-7 upset win over the 18th ranked Kansas State Wildcats.
This, however, wasn’t even considered the game of the week by many.

In this week’s power rankings, we prepare for the return of SEC Nation. For the third time in Vanderbilt’s history, the ESPN pregame show will broadcast live from the Ingram Commons, covering all things SEC football. This means, of course, Tim Tebow’s return to Nashville. Although he won’t suit up this time around, we’d like to honor his memorable journey from football, to baseball, to reporting by assigning each team a phase in Tebow’s career.

  1. Alabama- QB, Florida Gators (2008)

 

 

The Crimson Tide hosted unranked Colorado State this past weekend. Needless to say, they won. Easily.

Once again, Jalen Hurts proved that there’s very little he can’t do–he threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns, while also leading in rushing with 103 yards and a touchdown. Calvin Ridley caught just three of Hurts’ passes, but he still racked up 92 yards and a touchdown. On the defensive side, Alabama uncharacteristically let up 23 points to an unranked opponent, but they still picked off Colorado State twice. As expected, there’s really nothing to worry about if you’re an Alabama fan–just don’t take the Commodores too lightly. They’ll make you pay.

In 2008, Tebow led the Gators to a national championship, and the expectations are no less for the Crimson Tide. Tebow also broke Emmitt Smith’s record for most rushing touchdowns in one season as a Gator, despite being a quarterback. While Jalen Hurts will probably not be able to match that, he still leads the team in rushing yards and is tied for first in rushing touchdowns. Jalen Hurts is posting similar statistics to the ones Tebow posted in the prime of his career, with just as talented of a surrounding cast.

 

2. Georgia- QB, Florida Gators (2007)

 

Despite not posting the best offensive numbers through the first two games, the Georgia Bulldogs bounced back, running up 42 points in the first three quarters before they took their starters out of the game. Running back Nick Chubb finally had the performance that Georgia needs from him going forward, gaining 131 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 16 rushing attempts. Their run defense also looked terrific, allowing just 22 yards of total rushing.

A stark improvement from the weeks prior, Georgia looks primed to make a run similar to that of Tebow and the Florida Gators in 2007, Tebow’s first season as a starter and the year he won the Heisman Trophy. That 2007 season was a great one for Tebow, yet it ended in a heartbreaking loss to Michigan in the Capital One Bowl. We predict a strong season out of the Bulldogs as well, yet not strong enough to take them to the playoffs or anywhere near Alabama for the SEC title.

 

3. Miss State- QB (Football), OF (Baseball), Ponte Vedra Nease High School (2003-2006)

 

Despite only playing baseball for 3 years in high school, it was clear that Tim Tebow’s baseball prowess was real. Hitting nearly .500 in his junior year, Tebow gained looks from MLB scouts of several organizations. His accomplishments in football were even more impressive as he scored 158 touchdowns (yes you read that right) in his high school career. His career culminated with winning Florida’s Player of the Year in his Junior and Senior seasons and his eventual Mr. Football title in the state of Florida. If it wasn’t already obvious, Tebow could really do it all.

Nick Fitzgerald, the Mississippi State Bulldogs’ quarterback, showed he could also do it all this past week against the 12th ranked LSU Tigers, throwing and rushing for two scores apiece. Surrounding him was a team that looked inspired, obliterating the Tigers 37-7. The Bulldogs looked incredible, enough to bump them up not just in our power rankings, but enough to garner a number 17 ranking from the Associated Press. Their rushing attack, spearheaded by Fitzgerald and running back Aeris Williams, is as strong of a 1-2 punch as any in the nation, just as Tebow’s two-sport prowess was as strong as any.  Fitzgerald and Williams will both need to perform as well as they did this week going forward in order to get past Georgia on the road next week.

 

4. Auburn- QB, Florida Gators (2009)

 

 

Following a tough loss to Clemson, the Auburn Tigers continued to look incredibly sloppy with five turnovers against an FCS school in Mercer. While they were incredibly careless with the football, Auburn was still able to come away with a win, which, even against a Mercer team whose football program is only five years young, is always a positive. In addition, both quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who threw for 364 yards, and running back Kamyrn Pettway, who ran for 128 and 3 scores, looked strong despite the offense’s inability as a whole to hold onto the ball.

During his final year at Florida, Tebow digressed slightly from his unreal seasons the two years prior, largely due to being injured several times throughout the year. Alas, he was able to bounce back each and every game despite those nagging injuries.  He went on to lead his team to a rout of Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl, with 533 yards of total offense, breaking the prior Bowl Championship Series Game record. Like Tebow and the ‘09 Gators, the Tigers may not be primed for a push at the SEC title or a premier bowl game, however, if their offense can finally click and limit turnovers, they could be a scary team going forward.

 

5. Vanderbilt- QB, Florida Gators (2006)

 

Nicknamed “The Chosen One” in high school, there was no question Tim Tebow was bound to be a stud in college. Despite this, Urban Meyer overlooked him and decided to start quarterback Chris Leak over him. Proving to be a strong contributor the entire year en route to a National Championship, Tim Tebow shocked the world and ended up being one of the most prolific players in NCAA history.

Now, that’s not to say that the Vanderbilt Commodores will become one of the most prolific teams in NCAA history, but they certainly created headlines last weekend with their big win over #18 Kansas State. While that wasn’t enough to crack the AP poll, as there are still doubters unconvinced that they’re worthy of a ranking, it was enough for others to start to take notice. Despite a relatively weak offensive showing, quarterback Kyle Shurmur still looks as sharp as ever, posting an 8:0 touchdown to interception ratio so far through the season. Even without the best performance from the offense, Vanderbilt’s defensive unit stopped a Kansas State team that had scored 55 points in each of its first two games to just seven. Only allowing 13 points through three games thus far, the Commodores will need to continue riding this defensive wave as they have a chance to shock the world again against Alabama this upcoming weekend.

 

6. Florida- QB, Denver Broncos (2011)

 

The Florida Gators are finally looking like the preseason #17-ranked team that they once were. Despite the fact that they won the game on a fairly lucky Hail Mary, they looked good throughout.  This came even without the presence of several starters due to their looming felony charges. Had it not been for an untimely interception that set up what would be the game tying score, freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks would have had an incredible performance, and the defense picked off Tennessee three times throughout the game.

Eventually, the game came down to a long Hail Mary, reminiscent of Tim Tebow’s 80-yard game-winner against the Steelers in the first round of the playoffs in 2011. Despite solid quarterback play throughout the season by Tebow, the Broncos defense largely carried them to the playoffs, similar to the manner in which the Gators’ defense has largely carried them throughout the first two games. Looking forward, the Gators are moving into a tough part of their schedule, and like how the Broncos weren’t able to get past the Patriots in the second round, it is hard to count on the Gators to come out of this stretch ranked as highly as they are now.

 

7. LSU- QB, New England Patriots (2013)

 

While LSU looked good to start the season, their struggles could have been overlooked due to the weakness of their opponents. Then, when faced with their first SEC game and tough test, the Tigers were blown out of the water by a score of 37-7. Plagued with penalties throughout the game, including two that brought back touchdowns, LSU looked sloppy on both sides of the ball and they will definitely need to rethink their offensive and defensive schemes these next two weeks, again against weaker opponents.

Despite the fact that it is easy for LSU to dwell on this loss, looking past it is their key to their success going forward. After a failed comeback attempt with the Patriots in 2013, Tim Tebow took his losses and learned from it and was even able to score his coveted spot as a broadcaster on the SEC Network. At the end of the day, Ed Orgeron’s group is still ranked but a loss like this is crushing to any team and really spotlighted the immense struggles that LSU will have against better opponents.

 

8. Texas A&M- OF, New York Mets (2017)

 

2017 was a big season for Tebow’s baseball career–he was moved up from the farm system to the Mets’ advanced single A affiliate where he finished the season with a .231 batting average. Congrats, Tim. This move, while it may be important to him, means very little in the grand scheme of things. Unless the Mets decide to reach for him, Tebow would still have to go through double and triple A leagues before getting that sacred call up to the majors.

If Texas A&M wanted to remain competitive in the SEC after their brutal week one collapse against UCLA, they needed to string together a couple of wins. This week, they did just that, beating the Louisiana Rajun Cajuns 45-21. Like Tebow’s stint in low-A ball, this game means absolutely nothing.  Texas A&M needed the win to boost their confidence, and more importantly, to stay afloat, but Louisiana-Lafayette is an unranked opponent that should have given them no trouble. The Aggies went into the locker room at halftime trailing by a touchdown, but got their act together shortly thereafter by scoring 31 unanswered points. Their offense showed promise under the leadership of quarterback Kellen Mond and will have to keep up the good work.

This week, they host Arkansas at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. While it’s technically a home game for the Aggies, the Razorbacks are welcomed by many in Arlington. In fact, they will be wearing Dallas Cowboys replica jerseys for this week’s game to honor Arkansas alumnus Jerry Jones. This should be a good one.

 

9. Arkansas- Analyst, SEC Network (2017)

 

Now that Tebow is in his offseason, he’s working as an analyst for SEC Nation. Arkansas’s short, one week “offseason” has come and gone in the form of a week three bye. Now, it’s time to prepare for a huge week four matchup against Texas A&M.

The winning team will separate themselves from the middle of the pack in the SEC, while the loser will take home their second loss. This game may not seem important, but it has absolutely huge implications for both teams. Arkansas better bring their A-game this week.  Its offense has yet to show true firepower, but the defense has held its own, only letting up 17.5 points per game. The Aggies will prove to be a tough matchup, as their offense is currently averaging 37.7 points per game. If the Razorbacks want to impress alumnus Jerry Jones in his own stadium, they will need to put out the Aggies’ offensive flame.

 

10. Kentucky- Co-Host, Good Morning America (2014)

 

Tim Tebow co-hosted Good Morning America?

Kentucky is 3-0?

It’s hard to tell which is less likely, but believe it or not, both are true.

The Wildcats’ only SEC win came this week against South Carolina, yet even this result seemed unlikely. South Carolina came out hot, but after that, this game was all Kentucky. Sophomore running back Benny Snell Jr. was the difference maker. He may not have been as efficient as he was against Eastern Kentucky, when he rushed for 5.4 yards per carry, but with 32 rushes for 102 yards and two touchdowns against an SEC opponent, he proved that he is capable of being a workhorse. Kentucky truly grinded this one out; as quarterback Stephen Johnson said, “This says we’ve got a little bit of dog in us, I guess.”

Kentucky is off to a hot start, but it’s hard to picture this streak continuing, as they host Florida this week.

 

11. South Carolina- OF, New York Mets (2016)

 

In week three, the Gamecocks’ season went South. They came into the game with a 2-0 record, having beaten both NC State and Missouri. Their offense looked great in both of those games, but unfortunately, they couldn’t get the job done against Kentucky.

The game got off to a very promising start for South Carolina; Deebo Samuel hauled in a 68 yard touchdown pass on the first play of the game, and the defense responded with an interception and a fumble in their first two outings. The two traded blows for the remainder of the game, until Kentucky nailed a field goal with just over two minutes left, giving them a ten point lead.

Tim Tebow gained attention from MLB teams as a coveted high school baseball prospect, but he instead decided to pursue a career in football. Shortly after his football career ended, he held an open tryout in front of 40 MLB scouts, eventually signing with the Mets in 2016. Although many didn’t believe in the Tebow hype, he launched a home run in his first at-bat with the Mets’ instructional league team. This start draws parallels to that of South Carolina’s week three performance. South Carolina couldn’t hold it together, just as Tebow struggled after his first home run, posting a meager .222 batting average while with the instructional league team.

 

12. Tennessee- QB, Denver Broncos (2010)

 

Drafted 25th overall in the 2010 draft, many viewed Tebow as a quarterback who would need a lot of refinery in order to make it in the pros. Just like Tebow, the Tennessee Volunteers were a time that needed a lot of refinery going into conference play especially after their narrow week one win, which easily could have ended in a loss on several different occasions.

In their first inter-conference game, and against their toughest opponent thus far, Tennessee didn’t really look like a team that fixed its mistakes. Behind three interceptions from quarterback Quinten Dormady, the Volunteer offense looked sloppy for three quarters of the game, scoring just three points. Despite this, they looked promising in the 4th, putting up 17 points behind strong play from running back John Kelly, who had an outstanding game overall. In addition, their defense looked much better than it did just two weeks prior throughout most of the game, which is definitely a positive. That was until they completely blew coverage on the last play of the game, giving Florida a relatively easy over-the-top throw and the win, highlighting their weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball.

 

13. Ole Miss- QB, Philadelphia Eagles (2015)

 

After a better start to the season than many predicted, the Ole Miss Tigers went into a tough matchup with the California Bears and put up a strong fight, yet still came out with a loss. Now, entering a bye week and into their difficult stretch against SEC opponents, it is hard to say that the Rebels will have any success going forward. Despite decent, yet promising quarterback play from Sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson, their season lacks any sort of promise from here on out.

Much like Patterson, upon his being signed by the Eagles in 2015, Tim Tebow played pretty well in the preseason despite never being given the starting nod, throwing for 286 yards and rushing for another 82 with three total TDs over that span. After his start, Tebow was cut by the Eagles prior to the start of the 2015-2016 season. We expect a similar result from the Ole Miss squad who will struggle to find any success in the coming weeks with the strength of opponents they will be up against.

And even if Ole Miss can play better comparatively than Tebow did and get through this rough patch, at the end of the day they don’t really have much to look forward to with their postseason ban.

14. Mizzou- Quarterback, New York Jets (2012)

 

 

After the Broncos signed Peyton Manning in the summer of 2012, Tebow was traded to the Jets in exchange for a couple draft picks. To make things worse, Jets special teams Coordinator Mike Westhoff said that Tebow would only really be used on special teams and to periodically run the wildcat. This is largely considered Tebow’s rock bottom, and he’s had a lot of tough moments as an athlete. Sorry Mizzou, but a 35-3 loss to Purdue and an upcoming game against Auburn is rough enough to make this comparison.

Purdue used its two quarterback system, a unique strategy that paid off in this one, as Missouri had absolutely no answer. On the other side of the ball, Tigers’ quarterback Drew Lock couldn’t find his rhythm, posting a 42% completion percentage, no touchdowns, and two interceptions. The running game wasn’t much better; Ish Witter rushed for 25 yards on seven carries, the highest total for the Tigers that game. But there was one good performance for Missouri. Unfortunately, it was Corey Fatoney, their overworked punter, who pinned four punts inside Purdue’s 20-yard line.

 

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About the Writer
Simon Gibbs, Senior Writer

Simon Gibbs (‘21) is a senior writer for the sports section of the Vanderbilt Hustler. He is planning on majoring in Human and Organizational Development...

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