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College Football Around the SEC: Midterm Grades

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Six games into the season, it is time to rate and grade.

UA graduation

We are at the halfway mark of the season. Time flies when you are having fun (i.e. Bama fans). It is time to hand out midterm grades. Although several of the teams have only played five games, it’s Alabama’s world. They are just living in it. Besides, I think we’ve seen enough to get an idea of where these teams are.

Win-Loss Record key:

SEC - conference record

P5 - non-SEC record against Power 5

MM - record against Mid Majors/Non-Power 5 FBS but projected bowl participant

CC - record against cupcakes, FCS and perennial FBS doormats (subject to my whims).

EAST:

Georgia Bulldogs (6-0: SEC 3-0, P5 1-0, MM 1-0, CC 1-0)

A-

For most Alabama fans, this program is like looking into a mirror. That should not be a surprise with Nick Saban’s long-time assistant Kirby Smart at the helm. Strong defense and RTDB with decent special teams is the recipe for success in Athens. If there is a flaw in this team, it is the untested passing game. The Dawgs are averaging 145.7 yards per game with a completion rate of only 57.9%. However, the biggest factor might be how they handle success and all the accolades.

Missouri at Georgia 6:30/7:30 SECN

Florida Gators (3-2: SEC 3-1, P5 0-1, MM 0-0, CC 0-0)

C+

The defense has taken a step back from last season and the quarterback situation remains a mess. On the bright side, the running game is taking form. On special teams, Johnny Townsend’s 48.85 yards per punt leads the nation. Eddy Pineiro has been decent at placekicking.

Texas A&M at Florida 6pm/7pm ESPN2

Tennessee Volunteers (3-2: SEC 0-2, P5 1-0, MM 0-0, CC 2-0)

D+

The Vols started the year with a big win over Georgia Tech and have gone downhill ever since. Butch Jones’ child psychology methods of motivation continue to fall flat. After five games, he is switching quarterbacks and he has teammates duking it out at practice. It is not a happy time on Rocky Top.

South Carolina at Tennessee 11am/noon ESPN

Kentucky Wildcats (5-1: SEC 2-1, P5 0-0, MM 2-0, CC 1-0)

B-

Perhaps the surprise of the league, UK is a one-point loss away from being 6-0. They have a tendency to play up or down to their competition. QB Stephen Johnson and RB Benny Snell are fun to watch. The defense has been good enough. This grade might change in a hurry with the schedule they have coming up: @ MSST, vs TENN, vs OM, @ VAN, @ UGA, vs LOU.

Kentucky has the week off.

South Carolina Gamecocks (4-2: SEC 2-2, P5 1-0, MM 1-0, CC 0-0)

C

Jekyll and Hyde. Beat NC State at a neutral site but lose to UK at home. Motorboat Mizzou on the road but squeak by LaTech at home (who lost to UAB this past weekend). Who the heck are these guys? Defense is strong but offense needs to figure out who is going to step up for injured all-everything Deebo Samuel. Placekicking is shockingly bad (5 of 14 field goals made).

South Carolina at Tennessee 11am/noon ESPN

Missouri Tigers (1-4: SEC 0-3, P5 0-1, MM 0-0, CC 1-0)

F

The only good thing to say about Mizzou is that they put up a fight at Kentucky last Saturday, which says that they haven’t quit. The offense would be pretty good on the FCS level. The defense is atrocious. Barry Odom is a nice guy but he is not ready for this level of coaching.

Missouri at Georgia 6:30/7:30 SECN

Vanderbilt Commodores (3-3: SEC 0-3, P5 1-0, MM 1-0, CC 1-0)

C-

The ‘Dores started 3-0 but then got run out of town in three straight SEC games. Fortunately for them, their four toughest games (Bama, Fla, UGA) are behind them. The defense is okay. QB Kyle Shurmur has been solid at times but flounders against the upper echelon. Senior RB Ralph Webb is having the worst season of his career.

Vanderbilt at Ole Miss 2:30/3:30 SECN

WEST:

Auburn Tigers (5-1: SEC 3-0, P5 0-1, MM 1-0, CC 1-0)

B+

The Tigers have been slowly creeping up the rankings as they tally up the wins. The running game has carried the load as QB Jarrett Stidham learns on the job. The defense has been better than expected while special teams are adequate. Novemebr will be the true test (@ TAMU, UGA, Bama).

Auburn at LSU 2:30/3:30 CBSN

Texas A&M Aggies (4-2, SEC 2-1, P5 0-1, MM 1-0, CC 1-0)

B

The Aggies could have folded after the meltdown against UCLA, but they circled the wagons and have put together a strong first half. QB Kellen Mond is improving each week. The defense might actually be better off without #1 NFL pick Myles Garrett who they may have depended on too much last year and he would check out at times.

Texas A&M at Florida 6pm/7pm ESPN2

Arkansas Razorbacks (2-3: SEC 0-2, P5 0-1, MM 0-0, CC 2-0)

D

Bret Bielema has not been able to keep up with recruiting to restock the shelves and what is left is a cellar dweller of a team. QB Austin Allen has taken a step back. Meanwhile, the defense has given up 50 and 48 in two SEC games (vs TAMU and SC respectively).

Arkansas at ALABAMA 6:15/7:15 ESPN

Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-2: SEC 1-2, P5 0-0, MM 1-0, CC 1-0)

C+

The Bullies started the season strong and puffed out their chests after whooping LSU. But then UGA and Auburn brought MSU back down to Earth. Nick Fitzgerald is a talented quarterback but he can’t do it all, nor should he try as much as he desires to do so. The defense is meh. Special teams has been decent.

BYU at Mississippi State 11am/noon SECN

Ole Miss Rebels (2-3: SEC 0-2, P5 0-1, MM 1-0, CC 1-0)

F

The troubles in Oxford are well-known but it is no excuse for the quit in this team. They have lost their last three by a collective 137-42. It is ironic that Ole Miss is once again attempting to change their mascot since they have no identity. They have some good athletes but they are playing like 85 individuals instead of a team.

Vanderbilt at Ole Miss 2:30/3:30 SECN

LSU Tigers (4-2: SEC 1-1, P5 2-0, MM 1-1, CC 1-0)

C

This is not the typical LSU team we have come to know. It appeared that they had finally found a QB in Danny Etling who is good enough as a game manager but then Ed Orgeron messes with the formula and throws in the freshman Myles Brennan. RBs Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams have struggled with injury and a offensive line but they should be performing better. The receiving corps goes no deeper than D.J. Chark. The defense has been uncharacteristically inconsistent and uninspiring. OC and DC have disappointed, but the head coach is about what you’d expect.

Auburn at LSU 2:30/3:30 CBS

Alabama Crimson Tide (6-0, SEC 3-0, P5 1-0, MM 2-0, CC 0-0)

A

A is for Alabama. The nation’s number one team has earned it. They look like a solid playoff team but they are not without flaws. The passing game still has a few kinks to work out. The kicking game is still a question mark. But the defense and running game are top notch. They just need to stay healthy.

Arkansas at ALABAMA 6:15/7:15 ESPN - Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit with Maria Taylor.

WEEK 8 SEC GAMES:

  • Idaho at Missouri 11am/noon SEC Network
  • Tennessee at Alabama 2:30/3:30 CBS
  • Kentucky at Mississippi State 3pm/4pm SECN
  • Auburn at Arkansas TBA *
  • LSU at Ole Miss TBA*
  • Georgia, Florida, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Vandy have the week off.

* These two games will be night games shown on ESPN or SEC Network to be decided later.

#ROLLTIDE!