It took a Hail Mary to keep Tennessee undefeated and LSU’s offense exploded in interim coach Ed Orgeron’s first game at the helm in Week 5.
It will be interesting to see what this week serves up for an encore — assuming Hurricane Matthew cooperates with the schedule.
Let’s see how things line up in the Week 6 storylines for each SEC team.
Keep it rolling: With back-to-back wins against LSU and Louisiana-Monroe, Auburn has some momentum in the run up to its visit to Mississippi State (noon ET, SECN).
After putting up 58 points and 688 yards against the Warhawks, the Tigers are humming on offense. They’ll look to keep that going against a Mississippi State defense that has had its ups and downs this season.
A victory for Auburn would allow it to take a three-game winning streak into next week’s bye.
Rest and history: The Bulldogs have started the season 2-2. Coming off a bye week, they’ll have the benefit of some recent history when they host Auburn.
Dan Mullen can become the first coach to beat Gus Malzahn in three consecutive games, having notched victories in 2010 and 2015.
That’s an interesting stat, but quarterback Nick Fitzgerald’s ability to move the ball against a stingy Auburn defense will have far more impact on the outcome.
Trend or mirage?: Orgeron certainly provided a spark for the program, as LSU posted a school record for offense in a SEC contest with its 634 yards in a 42-7 pasting of Missouri — without Leonard Fournette.
Now, the question is, can he keep that newfound offensive flame burning on the road against Florida (noon ET, ESPN)? After a rough patch against Tennessee, Florida’s defense stood out in a 13-6 win against Vanderbilt last time out.
Hurricane Matthew’s track could wind up affecting this game as well.
Moving forward: The Gators have faced their share of adversity this season. From the injury to Luke Del Rio, to the second-half collapse against Tennessee and now the injuries along the defensive front, Jim McElwain has had to work hard to keep his team on track.
Del Rio could be back for this game. His return should provide a boost for an offense that has sputtered a bit without him.
Vanderbilt and Kentucky
Bowl dreams: Both schools enter Saturday’s game at Commonwealth Stadium (4 p.m. ET, SECN) facing the same reality.
The winner of this game has a reasonable shot at making a bowl game, while the loser likely does not.
Both schools are 2-3, and could use this win to reach the six that would guarantee a bowl berth.
Kentucky had a chance to get to that mark last season, but were denied in a 21-17 loss to the Commodores.
“It bothers me,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “It’ll probably bother me for the rest of my life, yes. But this is a totally new year.”
As for Vanderbilt, quarterback Kyle Shurmur will play with an eye shield after taking a finger to the eye against Florida last week.
‘So, you’re saying there’s a chance?’: In 2016, there’s good Arkansas and bad Arkansas. The good version, which took down TCU on the road and stood toe-to-toe with Texas A&M for three quarters, can play with anyone, including Alabama.
The bad version, which struggled past Louisiana Tech and got blindsided late against the Aggies, will spoil what should be a party atmosphere in Fayetteville Saturday night if it shows up.
Arkansas has lost nine straight games in this series, so history is working against it.
Starting the run: According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, no FBS team has a tougher schedule in the next four weeks than Alabama. It starts this week at Arkansas (7 p.m. ET, ESPN) before another trip to Tennessee, a home date with Texas A&M and a road game at LSU.
The Crimson Tide are a 13-point favorite against Arkansas, but as always, Alabama will get its opponent’s best shot in Fayetteville on Saturday night.
It is, however, the first step in a month that will tell us quite a bit about Alabama’s national championship credentials.
Under the radar: When Tennessee visits Kyle Field Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS), it will be the site of ESPN’s College GameDay and a battle between a pair of top-10 teams.
Despite Texas A&M being nearly a touchdown favorite, Tennessee is getting far more press. The Volunteers, with their furious rally against Florida and a Hail Mary against Florida, have been an interesting story so far this season.
The Aggies, on the other hand, are just as undefeated and ranked higher, but, aside from the opener against UCLA, have arrived there without much drama.
Can the Vols refocus?: After the Florida game, it was fair to wonder if Tennessee could regroup in time to take down Georgia. After an even more improbable victory over the Bulldogs, the Volunteers must again come down from that emotional high to prepare for another dangerous opponent.
Aside from that, the team also has injury concerns about Jalen Hurd, Darrin Kirkland and Jalen Reeves-Maybin.
Many pundits have labeled Tennessee as a team of destiny, but that theory is going to be tested this weekend.
Which way?: Teams generally react one of two ways to crushing losses. Either it dwells on the past, sulks and lets that negativity seep into the follow week or it circles the wagons and uses the disappointment as fuel to reach new heights.
That’s the fork in the road for Georgia this week as it prepares for its visit to South Carolina (7:30 p.m. ET, SECN).
Georgia should have Nick Chubb available this week, and that might help them bounce back.
Looking for answers: The Gamecocks are 124th nationally in total offense and tied for 126th in scoring offense with 14 points per game.
Those numbers have Will Muschamp and his staff scrambling a bit. Perry Orth, who impressed in relief of Brandon McIlwain, may have forced his way back into the quarterback race. Receivers Bryan Edwards and Deebo Samuel should be back from hamstring injuries in time for the Georgia game.
It’s a big game for the Gamecocks, and a win could serve as a springboard for a push towards bowl eligibility.