The halfway mark for the regular season in the Southeastern Conference has brought with it some shake-ups.
Week Six gave us a few eyebrow-raisers as well as typical outcomes for teams whose dominance we have come to accept as constants of life.
Without further ado, here are the Week Seven SEC Power Rankings.
In 2018, there are three things guaranteed in life: death, taxes, and Alabama being good at football. Per usual, Alabama occupies the top spot with a 65-31 win over Arkansas. Heisman favorite Tua Tagovailoa threw for 334 yards and more touchdowns than incompletions (four to three) in two and a half quarters. Even Nick Saban couldn’t complain that performance.
Georgia covered the 27.5 point spread in their 41-13 win against Vanderbilt. Quarterback Jake Fromm had one of the best games of the season notching 276 passing yards and three touchdowns. Georgia also rushed for 219 yards, putting their well-balanced offense on display. The Bulldogs are averaging 43 points a game and are again heavy favorites to win the SEC East.
The Gators turned heads with a surprising 27-19 win against then #5 LSU. Defense has been the key for Florida. In the last four games, they have held opponents to 3.0 yards per carry (top ten in the nation during that stretch). With the return of All-SEC linebackers David Reese and Cece Jefferson, Florida has 20 sacks after six games, leading the SEC in that category. In retrospect, Florida’s single loss to Kentucky is forgivable given the Wildcats’ success this season.
The Bayou Bengals’ hype took a hit last week with a loss to Florida at Gainesville. The LSU offensive line failed to provide adequate protection for quarterback Joe Burrow, surrendering five sacks as he was constantly pressured for most of the game. Burrow has been lights-out on passes inside ten yards but has struggled with the long ball. The Tigers fought a neck-and-neck game until Florida’s fourth quarter pick-six put the Gators up by eight to close the game. LSU has another tough matchup this week against #2 Georgia. It will be interesting to see how LSU responds to the loss.
The Tigers of the Plains suffered a painful 23-9 loss to Mississippi State. Offensive line woes have plagued Auburn’s once-promising season. Jared Stidham has been pressured on 32.8 percent of his dropbacks. Stidham deserves some of the blame too as he only completed 50 percent of his passes and overthrew multiple receivers against Mississippi State. The rushing game has not offered any relief either. They rank 82nd out of 130 teams in yards per carry (4.18). Their defense has been respectable, though. Auburn needs to find something on offense as they enter the hardest stretch of their schedule.
If you want to stop Kentucky, you have to stop Benny Snell. Without the help of their superstar running back, the Wildcat offense is only a shadow of itself. Texas A&M was able to keep Snell at bay and hand the Wildcats their first loss of the season. Even so, it was a bad matchup from the start. College Station is one of the hardest places to win and the Aggies have the fourth-best run defense in the country. With all the odds stacked against them, Kentucky managed to push the game into overtime. They are a much better team than what they showed on Saturday.
7. Texas A&M
Texas A&M got their first win against a ranked team with a close win over Kentucky. The Aggies defense held Kentucky to 70 rushing yards, which is no small task. The offense did just enough to get by. Texas A&M’s only losses have come against Clemson and Alabama. Both are favored to make the College Football Playoff. Given how vulnerable the SEC West teams not named Alabama have looked, the Aggies might climb the list in the coming weeks.
8. Mississippi State
The 23-9 win against Auburn is a big deal. A loss would have had them sitting at the bottom of the SEC West with their bitter rival Ole Miss and Arkansas. Mississippi State ran roughshod for an insane 349 yards against the Auburn Tiger as Nick Fitzgerald broke Tim Tebow’s SEC quarterback rushing record. Outside of the running game, however, the offense is not much of a threat. The coaching staff has tried to force a passing game without results. Only time will tell if the Bulldogs are ready to embrace their strength or pursue balance.
9. South Carolina
South Carolina narrowly beat Missouri 37-35. The Gamecocks have a potential quarterback controversy on their hands. Michael Scarnecchia has played well filling in for the injured Jake Bentley. Scarnecchia threw three touchdowns and led a game-winning drive against Missouri with under two minutes to go. Coach Will Muschamp likes to be aggressive on defense but he has not found much success. South Carolina is 99th in rush defense.
Missouri really wanted this game against South Carolina. Missouri is still looking for its first SEC win and is unlikely to get one this week against Alabama. Their star quarterback has not thrown a touchdown since Week Three. Optimism is fleeting for the Missouri Tigers. At this point they are just a slightly better version of Ole Miss.
11. Ole Miss
Last week’s game against Louisiana Monroe was a typical 2018 Ole Miss win, a throw-away win against a team that is not very good. The 70-21 win does not reveal anything about Ole Miss other than that they can beat inferior competition.
In recent history Vanderbilt succeeded due to a resilient defense and an efficient and opportunistic offense. Vanderbilt held their own for one and a half quarters. Ke’Shawn Vaughn ripped a 43-yard run in the first quarter but ended the game with 79 rushing yards on nine carries. After two first-half field goals by Vanderbilt’s Ryley Guay, Georgia trailed for the first time this season.
Once Georgia got going, however, Vanderbilt’s defense could not stop big plays and get off the field. The Commodore offense could not get much going without help from their defense. The result was a bitter 41-13 loss. The Commodores run game has been alright, but it could be much better. Ke’Shawn Vaughn has 439 rushing yards and five touchdowns. He is averaging 6.8 yards per carry but is getting less than 11 carries per game.
He needs more touches.
Tennessee is coming off of a bye week. There is no change here.
Arkansas scored 31 points on Alabama! Arkansas still lost by 34.
On the bright side the Razorbacks covered the huge 34.5 point spread (barely). For Arkansas, any little victory counts. They are 1-5, and who knows when their next win will come?
“Alexa, fast forward to 2019.”