In an utterly exhausting day of football — in a good way, of course — we saw a desperation heave keep Tennessee’s record unblemished and a pair of LSU running backs almost make Tigers fans forget about Leonard Fournette.
Now as we move deeper into conference play, let’s recap what we learned about every SEC team in Week 5:
(Teams are listed by ranking, then alphabetically.)
No. 1 Alabama
Just about anyone can rush for 100 yards in an Alabama uniform. Damien Harris was limited in a 34-6 win against Kentucky, but that was just fine as freshman Joshua Jacobs took 16 carries and turned them into 100 yards and a touchdown. The Tide backfield is a rotating door of five-star talent. That depth will be key with an Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas A&M stretch during the next three weeks.
No. 9 Texas A&M
Maybe the Aggies aren’t quite ready for Alabama. Texas A&M recorded a 24-13 road win against South Carolina, but the Gamecocks have no business staying in a game with this team. Trevor Knight struggled with his accuracy, completing 23 of 40 pass attempts for 206 yards and no touchdowns. That may not get it done next week against Tennessee, and certainly won’t two weeks later in Tuscaloosa.
No. 11 Tennessee
Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Tennessee’s desperation heave as time expired to beat Georgia was as close to a miracle as Butch Jones has experienced. Just look at his reaction after Jauan Jennings came down with the 43-yard prayer. Now the Volunteers have to take the momentum from this win and last week’s against Florida into College Station against Texas A&M. And if they pass that test and move to 6-0, Alabama is waiting.
No. 16 Ole Miss
The Rebels have some horses. Chad Kelly did his usual thing in a 48-28 win against Memphis, but a pair of Ole Miss running backs went past 100 yards on the ground. Akeem Judd and Eugene Brazley combined for 28 carries, 232 yards and 2 touchdowns. It’s nice to see this team do damage in the run game despite Kelly and the air attack being the focus.
No. 20 Arkansas
The next two weeks are when we’ll learn a lot about the Razorbacks. A 52-10 win over Alcorn State was basically a bye week for Arkansas, which needed it with Alabama and Auburn up next.
No. 23 Florida
That loss to Tennessee was more deflating than we thought. Against a wildly inferior Vanderbilt team, the Gators mustered just a 13-6 win and were outgunned on offense 265 yards to 236. The Gators hope it’s all out of their system for Luke Del Rio’s expected return next week against LSU — a team with new life under interim coach Ed Orgeron.
No. 25 Georgia
Face it, it’s just not the Bulldogs’ year. The heavens opened up and Jacob Eason was ready to ascend into Georgia lore with a go-ahead bomb with 10 seconds left, but the football gods had other plans and allowed Tennessee to steal a win between the hedges. Now, after back-to-back losses, fans can sit back and enjoy the rest of this season before ramping expectations back up in 2017.
How about those Auburn quarterbacks? Sean White easily had his best statistical game of the season in a 58-7 win against Louisiana Monroe with 239 passing yards and 2 touchdowns on 14 of 17 passing. As for John Franklin III, he completed his lone pass attempt for 39 yards and ran 80 yards for an electric touchdown on a zone-read play in the third quarter. This performance should boost White’s confidence in his ability and Guz Malzahn’s confidence in Franklin as a valuable playmaker.
These Wildcats can scare some folks. After beating South Carolina last week, Kentucky held Alabama to just three points in the first quarter of a 34-6 Tide win. Nick Saban said he had to challenge his team at halftime, which is probably as much of a win as Kentucky could have hoped for.
Leonard Fournette who? Ed Orgeron’s first game as LSU’s interim coach featured a heavy dose of running backs Derrius Guice, who went for 163 yards and 3 scores, and Darrel Williams, who added 130 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 42-7 win against Missouri. Plenty of good vibes coming out of Baton Rouge after this one.
Drew Lock and the Tigers aren’t quite ready to exploit SEC defenses. Entering Saturday’s game averaging 377 yards passing, Lock finished 17 of 37 for 167 yards and was intercepted once in a loss to LSU. Now that Mizzou is past the Eastern Michigans and Delaware States of the world, expect the prolific offensive numbers to come back to earth.
Will Muschamp still has some things to figure out. In a loss to Texas A&M, Muschamp pulled freshman QB Brandon McIlwain in the fourth quarter after passing for just 34 yards. Perry Orth stepped in and managed 138 in limited action. Going into the sixth week of the season with a quarterback conundrum is never ideal, but it should keep things interesting for Gamecocks fans.
The Commodores may need to hold open tryouts for a quarterback. Kyle Shurmur struggled again, going 9 of 25 for 82 yards in a 13-6 loss to Florida. Sure, the sophomore was battling one of the better defenses in the nation and was injured late, but the coaching staff and fan base has to be growing impatient as they wait for signs of consistency under center. Maybe next week against Kentucky will provide everyone with some hope if Shurmur is able to play.