Kids are taking over the SEC. South Carolina QB Jake Bentley blew away all expectations to become the fourth true freshman to start a game this season.
The other true freshman to start this weekend, Jalen Hurts, led Alabama to its biggest win of the season.
Elsewhere, the three most impactful quarterbacks in the conference — Austin Allen, Chad Kelly and Trevor Knight — had perhaps their worst games of the season.
Here’s how every quarterback graded out in Week 8:
Jake Bentley: A
Stats: 17 of 26 for 201 yards, 2 TDs
Maybe this is graded on somewhat of a curve, but Bentley burned his redshirt and had the best performance of the year for any USC quarterback. The Gamecocks had gone three home games without a passing touchdown, but Bentley tossed a pair of beautiful balls in his first opportunity against live competition. He’s undoubtedly the guy the Gamecocks will go with from this point out.
Jalen Hurts: B+
Stats: 15 of 25 for 164 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs; 21 carries for 93 yards, TD
This wasn’t Hurts’ finest game, but he avoided mistakes and made just enough plays to lead Alabama to its biggest win of the season. The true freshman kept several drives alive with his legs and hit enough shots to his wide receivers to keep the Crimson Tide alive. With this performance, Hurts enters the Heisman conversation.
Sean White: B+
Stats: 6 of 11 for 77 yards, TD; 4 carries for 61 yards, TD
White wasn’t asked to do much during Auburn’s dominant win against Arkansas. He accumulated 138 yards on 15 plays and scored a pair of touchdowns in the 53-point win. His passing ability will be tested much more in the Tigers’ next game against Ole Miss, but he was able to cruise on Saturday.
Danny Etling: B
Stats: 19 of 28 for 204 yards, TD, INT
Other than a poor interception that didn’t end up meaning much, Etling had a stellar day in a solid win against Ole Miss. The senior didn’t do anything spectacular but delivered the ball to his receivers effectively and spread the ball enough to open plenty of running lanes for Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice. LSU is rolling and Etling’s steady hand is a big reason.
Stephen Johnson: B-
Stats: 17 of 33 for 292 yards, 2 TDs
Johnson delivered the second-best passing game of his career and best against a conference opponent. The junior college transfer was effective and averaged 8.8 yards per passing attempt during Kentucky’s win against Mississippi State. Johnson led a drive to set up a 51-yard game-winning field goal to beat the Bulldogs. However, his two fumbles — including one returned for a score — count against him.
Drew Lock: C+
Stats: 20 of 40 for 281 yards, 2 TDs; 10 carries for 63 yards
Missouri lost an embarrassing game to Middle Tennessee, but Lock wasn’t completely to blame. The sophomore was inefficient, but helped lead the offense down the field and score 45 points on homecoming night. He has to complete more than half of his passes against this level of opponent.
Nick Fitzgerald: C+
Stats: 13 of 21 for 81 yards, TD, INT; 16 carries for 107 yards, 2 TDs
Fitzgerald desperately needs some help on offense. He’s carrying on the tradition of being Mississippi State’s best passer and rusher, but he simply doesn’t have that kind of transcendent ability. Fitzgerald was responsible for 3 touchdowns, but he also threw a pick-six. Mississippi State still scored 38 points, however, which should have been enough to win against Kentucky.
Kyle Shurmur: C
Stats: 15 of 23 for 143 yards, TD
Vanderbilt played against Tennessee State and ran into trouble, trailing the Tigers 14-7 at the end of the first quarter. However, Shurmur finally got on track and threw for a good-enough 6.2 yards per attempt and a score to pull away from Tennessee State down the stretch. At this point, it would be unfair to expect more from him.
Austin Allen: C-
Stats: 17 of 30 for 187 yards, INT
Arkansas needs to find a way to get Allen some help because he can’t do it all on his own against better teams. Allen was taken out of the game in the first quarter after getting blasted, and played with pain from that point on. His running game mustered a pathetic 25 yards, which made his job that much harder.
Chad Kelly: D+
Stats: 17 of 29 for 186 yards, TD, 2 INTs; 11 carries for 45 yards
The entire burden of the offense is on Kelly’s shoulders and it came back to bite the Rebels for the fourth time this season. Kelly threw a pair of costly interceptions and actually had a couple of fumbles returned for touchdowns that were mercifully overturned. Kelly was billed as the top QB in the conference heading into the season, but he’s slipping further down the list.
Trevor Knight: D+
Stats: 14 of 31 for 164 yards, 2 TDs, INT; 13 carries for 24 yards
It wasn’t exactly that Knight was bad, because he made a multitude of plays to keep the Aggies in the game, and even take a lead. Unfortunately, he added an interception and ultimately was ineffective finding his playmakers consistently. Part of it had to do with play-calling, but he struggled mightily with Alabama’s aggressive defense.