Alabama fell behind, rallied and held on against Ole Miss. Georgia found a way to squeeze by Missouri. And Florida might be without quarterback Luke Del Rio after a questionable hit knocked him out of Saturday’s game against North Texas.
That’s what we saw, but what does it all mean?
Here’s what we learned about every SEC team in Week 3:
(Teams are listed by ranking, then alphabetically.)
No. 1 Alabama
Damien Harris is the back to watch for the Crimson Tide. The sophomore carried the ball 16 times for 144 yards and a score in a 48-43 victory against Ole Miss. Bo Scarbrough was the more heralded back coming into the season, but Harris has outplayed him thus far. With a running threat at QB like Jalen Hurts, even more lanes should open for Harris as he likely becomes Alabama’s next tailback star.
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) September 17, 2016
No. 15 Tennessee
These next four games will not be fun for the Volunteers, who are probably the most unimpressive 3-0 team in the nation after beating Ohio 28-19. The offense was efficient enough with 404 total yards, but that likely won’t cut it when the Volunteers run the gauntlet of Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M and Alabama during the next month.
No. 16 Georgia
“In Jacob Eason We Trust” is likely painted in the Georgia locker room. The freshman threw 55 passes (29 completions) in a 28-27 road win against Missouri. He finished with 308 yards and the winning touchdown pass on fourth-and-10 with 1:29 left. That moxie late in the game gave Bulldogs fans a glimpse of the next three seasons with an ultra-talented QB.
— GATA Dawgs (@BassinDawg) September 18, 2016
No. 17 Texas A&M
The Aggies are just all-around good. In a 29-16 victory against Auburn, QB Trevor Knight threw for 247 yards, the team rushed for 255 (6.2 yards per carry), the defense held the Tigers in check, Shane Tripucka averaged 42 yards on his seven punts and Daniel LaCamera converted all five of his field goal attempts. Kevin Sumlin’s team had no weaknesses. All aspects will be put to the test again in another SEC matchup with undefeated Arkansas.
No. 19 Ole Miss
Head coach Hugh Freeze most certainly does not have Nick Saban’s number. Alabama spotted the Rebels a 24-3 lead late in the second quarter before coming back for a 48-43 win. This is the second Ole Miss collapse in three games, which should bring some heavy scrutiny Freeze’s way. But it’s more likely QB Chad Kelly carries the blame as he had both a fumble and an interception returned for touchdowns.
No. 20 LSU
The Tigers need running back Leonard Fournette healthy to win games. Quarterback Danny Etling was serviceable in a 23-20 win against Mississippi State, but Fournette looked like the best back in the country with 28 carries for 147 yards, two touchdowns and one mean stiff arm in the nail-biting win.
— SI Extra Mustard (@SI_ExtraMustard) September 17, 2016
No. 23 Florida
What we learned about Florida this Saturday is nowhere near as important as what we’ll learn about the team next week. QB Luke Del Rio suffered a potentially serious leg injury in the third quarter of a 32-0 victory against North Texas. The transfer has been stellar for the Gators this season, but now it’s up to Austin Appleby to run the offense if Del Rio is to miss significant time.
No. 24 Arkansas
The Razorbacks were laser-focused in a 42-3 win against Texas State. They were expected to win and did just that coming off an overtime victory against TCU a week ago. While other teams around the country are struggling with lesser opponents or blowing big leads, Arkansas did what it was supposed to do, which speaks to head coach Bret Bielema’s leadership.
John Franklin III can provide a spark. After taking over the offense in the fourth quarter, Franklin led the Tigers on two solid drives, one ending in a touchdown, in a 29-16 loss to Texas A&M. The transfer has undeniable speed and arm strength and gives head coach Gus Malzahn a different element at the position that Sean White simply can’t offer.
The Wildcats won’t go winless in 2016. That’s just about all we know after their 62-42 victory against New Mexico State. Kentucky managed 692 yards of total offense, but a repeat performance (with a win) doesn’t look likely next week against South Carolina, or really any other week this season for that matter. Enjoy this win, Big Blue Nation, there may not be another one for some time.
The Bulldogs are just good enough to give good teams a hard time. Dan Mullen’s team looked great last week against South Carolina, but in a 23-20 loss to LSU, it was clear that Mississippi State isn’t much more than a pesky opponent for stronger teams. Expect a handful of wins against mediocre competition, but the Bulldogs won’t be a match for Alabama and Texas A&M later in the schedule.
QB Drew Lock is the most underrated player in the SEC. Casual football fans know about Leonard Fournette and Chad Kelly, but Lock is putting together an incredible season on an average team. And if his wideouts held on to the ball on final drives, the Tigers may have kicked a game-winning field goal Saturday instead of losing to Georgia 28-27. In three games, Lock has 1,106 passing yards and nine touchdowns.
Sure, head coach Will Muschamp’s defense looked like a Will Muschamp defense in forcing four turnovers in a 20-15 win against East Carolina, but the play of freshman Brandon McIlwain shows the Gamecocks may have an answer at quarterback. McIlwain completed 16 of 28 passes for 195 yards, but his performance and decision making late in the game to seal the win spoke volumes.
If the running game isn’t working, Vandy will not win. After a field day on the ground last week in a win against Middle Tennessee, the Commodores were stymied with just 85 rushing yards on 30 carries in a 38-7 loss to Georgia Tech. If Ralph Webb can’t get going, there’s no way QB Kyle Shurmur can carry the offense.