Week 8 was one for making statements in the SEC.
Alabama did so by thumping Texas A&M to become the league’s only unbeaten team. Auburn threw down a marker with a drubbing of Arkansas, and LSU stayed hot by knocking off Ole Miss.
Here’s the one big thing each SEC coach had to say about the week that was:
Jake Bentley was going to redshirt this season, but those plans changed Saturday when he started at quarterback in a 34-28 win against UMass. He played well, prompting a reporter to ask coach Will Muschamp how the freshman compared to former Gamecocks standout Connor Shaw:
Will Muschamp asked if Bentley has Connor Shaw-type potential: “Let’s just take one day at a time. We beat UMass. It gets tougher next week”
— Mike Wilson (@MikeWilsonAJC) October 22, 2016
Alabama and Texas A&M
Alabama easily won the battle of the unbeatens, knocking off the Aggies, 33-14. It was a game that wasn’t really in doubt for much of the second half, but Alabama coach Nick Saban already was looking for ways to motivate his players in the postgame presser:
Nick Saban: “Well, we dominated the game in lots of ways and didn't get enough points."
— Michael Casagrande (@ByCasagrande) October 22, 2016
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin sounded like a man who came away impressed with his opposition.
Sumlin: It's not just us. Alabama had a lot to do with that. That's a good football team.
— TexAgs (@TexAgs) October 22, 2016
Missouri’s defense allowed 51 points and 584 yards in a homecoming loss to Middle Tennessee State. Naturally, coach Barry Odom was unhappy:
Odom on the morale of the defense: "Pretty pissed off, just like their head coach."
— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) October 23, 2016
Auburn and Arkansas
Auburn drilled Arkansas, 56-3, turning a top-25 contest into a runaway. Most of Auburn’s success came on the ground, and its coach was happy with the way his team controlled the game:
'Anytime you play like we played tonight gives you confidence. It was a physical game, but it was a good physical for us,' said Gus Malzahn
— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) October 23, 2016
In the other locker room, coach Bret Bielema didn’t mince his words:
Bielema: "Tomorrow's gonna be a long day, and it definitely won't be fun."
— Jason Kersey (@jasonkersey) October 23, 2016
Mississippi State and Kentucky
Kentucky’s Austin MacGinnis connected on a 51-yard field goal to help the Wildcats slip past the Bulldogs, 40-38. It was the school’s first game-winning field goal since 1998, and it let coach Mark Stoops joke about letting Mississippi State back in the game late.
Stoops: "We seem to like putting some drama into things."
— Joe Mussatto (@joe_mussatto) October 23, 2016
Dan Mullen wasn’t in the mood to laugh. Having lost three games this season on the last play, the Bulldogs have struggled to win the close ones — and it’s wearing on the team.
"It feels like the world's collapsing," Mullen said of the locker room in post game. "It was just devastation for all the work they put in."
— Bob Carskadon (@bobcarskadon) October 23, 2016
Ole Miss and LSU
Leonard Fournette’s return was overshadowed earlier in the week by the fact Ed Orgeron was coaching against his former team. After Fournette’s 284-yard, 3-touchdown game, the focus was back on the talented running back.
#LSU coach Ed Orgeron: Great to have Leonard back. I think he's the best player in America
— Jim Kleinpeter (@JimKleinpeter) October 23, 2016
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, whose team was held scoreless after halftime, is clearly tired of his team playing well only in spurts.
— Andrew Harrison WJTV (@AndrewWJTV) October 23, 2016
The Commodores celebrated homecoming by taking down Tennessee State, 35-17. It also marked the first time in the Derek Mason era that Vanderbilt won back-to-back games — and it happened thanks to a punishing running game.
Derek Mason on VU’s 358 rush yards: "The offensive line, I thought they dominated this game. I thought our rushing attack was unbelievable."
— Zac Ellis (@ZacEllisVU) October 23, 2016