Alvin Kamara was the best player on the field in Tennessee’s double-overtime loss to Texas A&M. The Aggies struggled to contain him, and when they did size up the 5-foot-10 running back, Kamara either bulldozed through them or wriggled away for extra yardage.
His final numbers: 26 touches from scrimmage for 288 yards and 3 touchdowns.
With starting running back Jalen Hurd nursing an undisclosed injury, Kamara made the most of his chance on national television. Now he’s a star on Rocky Top.
But how does he fit in with the rest of the conference’s running backs? Here’s a quick list of the SEC’s best:
5. Damien Harris, Alabama
Harris has a lot of help up front, but he’s living up to his 5-star billing with a combination of power and speed that’s left most defenses in the dust. He’s second in the conference behind LSU’s Derrius Guice with 8.69 yards per rushing attempt.
4. Alvin Kamara, Tennessee
No team uses a running back in its passing attack like Tennessee. Kamara leads the conference with 253 receiving yards out of the backfield. Next closest? South Carolina’s A.J. Turner with 104.
3. Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt’s offense is anemic, yet Webb has still found a way to average 5.01 yards per carry on a conference-leading 136 attempts while punching in 5 touchdowns. This man deserves a medal.
2. Nick Chubb, Georgia
It’s tough to find a better security blanket. Jacob Eason went 5 of 17 against South Carolina, and Georgia still had the game in hand thanks to Chubb’s bruising day on the ground.
1. Leonard Fournette, LSU
Yes, he’s missed two games with an ankle injury, but nobody is on Fournette’s level. He’ll provide the Tigers with a huge boost when he returns.
Could the SEC still put two teams in the College Football Playoff?
The final result of Texas A&M-Tennessee actually helps the SEC’s eventual case for two teams in the four-team playoff field. It allowed two squads from the West — A&M and Alabama — to stay undefeated, meaning one of them has a chance to skip the conference title game with an 11-1 record and hope there’s enough chaos around the country to sneak in.
A couple specific things probably need to happen, though: The loser of Ohio State-Michigan must have two losses at the end of the year, and Washington must go down at least once.
Then, there’s Louisville to worry about. A one-loss Alabama — which has dominated the Top 25 thus far — would have a fighting chance against the one-loss Cardinals, while a one-loss Aggies squad likely would not measure up. So that means anyone pulling for two SEC teams in the field should be pulling for Texas A&M in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 22.
Why is Mississippi State sticking with Nick Fitzgerald over Damian Williams?
OK, we know why: Fitzgerald is the future in Starkville, and he has some redeemable qualities. But the Mississippi State offense simply has been more efficient under Williams, a junior who did more than enough to beat South Alabama after Fitzgerald’s slow start (the Bulldogs lost on a missed field goal) and nearly led the ‘Dogs to a miracle comeback at LSU.
(Note that immediately after both of those examples, Fitzgerald was handed the starting position again.)
Saturday’s first half against Auburn was a nightmare. A seemingly disinterested MSU fell behind 35-0 while Fitzgerald failed to get anything going on offense. The coaching staff didn’t even look Williams’ way; it’s clearly willing to go through some growing pains instead of giving Williams more chances to jump-start the offense.
The stats through six games …
Nick Fitzgerald: 57.4 completion percentage, 6.08 yards per pass attempt, 6.1 yards per rush attempt, 0.04 touchdowns per pass/rush attempt (193 total attempts) — Mississippi State outscored by opponents 94-110 while Fitzgerald is on the field.
Damian Williams: 69.4 completion percentage, 6.58 yards per pass attempt, 5.9 yards per rush attempt, 0.06 touchdowns per pass/rush attempt (51 total attempts) — Mississippi State outscoring opponents 34-21 while Williams is on the field.
Is Bret Bielema’s seat about to get warmer?
Arkansas’ decent start to the season was quickly forgotten Saturday night in Fayetteville, where the Razorbacks took an absolute beating from No. 1 Alabama.
It was bad enough that a university professor cussed out coach Bret Bielema after the game (the man was arrested shortly afterward for disorderly conduct). The incident was “funny” to any SEC fan not wearing Hogs gear, but it also highlighted the fact that Bielema’s teams haven’t come close to accomplishing anything in the crowded SEC West.
This week’s home game against Ole Miss is not a must-win, but a “W” would keep Bielema from worrying about his job security down the stretch.
You OK, Jacob Eason?
A last-second touchdown pass against Tennessee helped gloss over the fact that Jacob Eason has put forth three straight weeks of iffy quarterbacking for Georgia.
He completed just 5 of 17 passes on Saturday at South Carolina, which prompted Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp to tell reporters it was “17 too many” attempts. Eason’s combined numbers since leading the Bulldogs to a 28-27 win at Missouri in Week 3: 38 of 81 (46.9 percent) for 377 yards, 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
Is Florida-LSU going to happen, or what?
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said he wants to get the Gators-Tigers game rescheduled after Hurricane Matthew, but can he follow through? This week would seem to be the time to make such a decision.
The conference could shift around its game schedule in the coming weeks (affecting other SEC teams), or it simply could force LSU to visit Gainesville on Nov. 19 while paying off each team’s FCS opponent currently scheduled for that weekend.
Fans’ primary complaint against the latter scenario is that the Tigers then would have three consecutive road games, including a short week before Texas A&M. To that I say: Get over it. Plenty of teams play three consecutive games on the road, and you’re going to have a short week either way.
Who are we forgetting about in the division races?
All the talk about Tennessee and Florida in the SEC East has essentially excluded Georgia from the conversation. While that’s no crime, it would be silly to rule out a late-season run by the Bulldogs coupled with a Tennessee collapse down the stretch.
In the West, five teams are still realistically contending. All the attention is on Alabama and Texas A&M, but if Tennessee is able to upset the Crimson Tide in Knoxville this weekend, get ready for chaos. Ole Miss, Auburn and LSU are all waiting for their chance.