SEC Football Rankings And Reactions, Week 8

    Week 8 SEC rankings and reactions: Alabama survived Tennessee, Ole Miss destroyed Texas A&M, and Arkansas and Auburn played an all-time overtime thriller.

    October 25, 2015

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    SEC Player of the Week

    Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott completed 25-of-35 passes for 348 yards and three scores with a pick, and ran 13 times for 117 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Kentucky.

    Week 8 SEC Football Rankings

    1. LSU (7-0)

    W, WKU 48-20: This was a more dangerous game than it might have appeared. WKU has a high-powered passing game, and it showed it off with Brandon Doughty throwing for 325 yards and three scores, keeping the heat on just enough to make LSU try. Leonard Fournette is rolling behind an O line that’s dominating, but with Alabama coming up next, getting three straight strong games out of Brandon Harris is the biggest key. How good has he been? Over the last three games he’s thrown for over 200 yards in each of the three with seven touchdown passes and no interceptions – he has yet to throw a pick all year. The offense has found a groove, and now it has to keep it two weeks from now.

    2. Florida (6-1)

    UP NEXT: Georgia

    3. Ole Miss (6-2)

    W, Texas A&M 23-3: THERE we go. Despite all the injures, and even with all the inconsistencies, Ole Miss came up with one of its best overall performances in years – at least defensively – against a dangerous Texas A&M team that couldn’t go anywhere. The Rebel defensive front was swarming – it didn’t let the Aggie ground attack breathe – while shutting down the high-powered receiving corps. Two problems. Chad Kelly threw three picks and the offense stalled too often early on. The defense picked up the slack for the interceptions, but the offense should’ve been able to put the game well out of reach early. Instead, it settled for three Gary Wunderlich field goals in the second quarter. With Auburn and Arkansas up next, it’s time to find more consistency before LSU comes to Oxford.

    4. Alabama (7-1)

    W, Tennessee 19-14: Was this just a tough, hard-fought win, or was it a sign of problems to come? The offense had a hard time getting rolling, even though Derrick Henry pounded well when needed and Jake Coker was terrific in the clutch – it was a sluggish performance. The narrative was that the team was a bit cashed and needs a week off, but it didn’t miss that many tackles and it was hardly looking lethargic. Tennessee is a good team and the Crimson Tide did what it needed to defensively. However, it was way too tough a fight at home for a team that should be hitting its stride. It’s probably the best team in college football, and in two weeks we’ll see against LSU if that’s really true.

    5. Texas A&M (5-2)

    L, at Ole Miss 23-3: There’s no reason the Aggie offense with this much talent and this many weapons should be struggling like it did against Ole Miss. And now here’s the problem – is Kyle Allen really the type of quarterback the program is fully committed to? The defense did its job with four takeaways and key stops in the second quarter to keep the game from getting out of hand, but the offense came up with just 192 yards and sputtered too often. With three giveaways, 13 penalties, and too many misfires from Allen, the next few games are vital. A&M should roll through South Carolina, Auburn and Western Carolina at home, and Vanderbilt on the road, so now is the time to really see if Allen can lead the way.

    6. Mississippi State (6-2)

    W, Louisiana Tech 45-20: Don’t blow off just how impressive it is that Mississippi State is already bowl eligible. Consider that before the season, the Bulldogs were picked by many to be seventh – last – in a loaded SEC West with a rebuilding team that lost a ton of key parts on both sides of the ball. Instead, Dak Prescott has been carrying the team at times now on a good three-game winning streak and with the chance to do a lot more damage. Going to Missouri in two weeks on a Thursday night shouldn’t be a problem with the way the Tiger O is playing, and then it’s house money time. MSU won’t win the West, so if it can beat Alabama or Ole Miss at home, and/or get by Arkansas on the road, this really will be a terrific season following the 2014 breakthrough.

    7. Arkansas (3-4)

    W, Auburn 54-46 4OT: This was the type of game Arkansas is built to take down sooner. Instead, Auburn went on the key scoring drives to take over in the fourth quarter and tie it up. The Hogs held the ball for 33 minutes, but they failed to dominate like they needed to with the ground attack to put it away. Even so, Alex Collins ran well even though there weren’t any big dashes – the longest run was just 15 yards – grinding it more than doing anything spectacular. Even so, it’s a good win with UT Martin coming up next – Arkansas will be 4-4 with road games at Ole Miss and LSU to follow. Basically, this game kept the season alive, even if it’s going to be a fight to win three games in the final five.

    8. Tennessee (3-4)

    L, at Alabama 19-14: Yeah, the Vols played well at Alabama, but it was a loss. Yeah, the Vols could just as easily be 7-0 as they are 3-4, but they’re 3-4. Fortunately, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Texas, Missouri and Vanderbilt close out the season, to it’ll take something special to not go 8-4, but the chance was there against the Crimson Tide to do something big. The defense might have given up 143 yards to Derrick Henry, and it got rolled over on the final drive, but it played well. The offense – like everyone else’s attack – sputtered against the Tide, even though Joshua Dobbs took several chances and got away with some big breaks. Week after week it seems like the same thing with this team – as good as it is, it’s just not there yet.

    9. Georgia (5-2)

    UP NEXT: Florida

    10. Auburn (4-3)

    L, at Arkansas 54-46: The Tigers were so, so close to turning the season around in a big way. Coming in on a two-game winning streak, had they pulled out the win over the Hogs they’d be on a roll going into the home date with Ole Miss. Now, if they lose next week, with a road game at Texas A&M to follow – and with Georgia and Alabama still to face – getting to six wins isn’t a sure thing. Sean White was fine – completing 19-of-32 passes for 254 yards – but it was Peyton Barber who controlled the offense. This isn’t the flashy Auburn offense as expected, but Barber has done his part to steady the ship carrying it 37 times with four scores. This might have been a lost opportunity, but as this game showed, it’s certainly not a lost season or a lost team.

    11. Kentucky (4-3)

    L, at Mississippi State 42-16: The turnovers started coming and the game got out of hand. The offense moved just fine at times against Mississippi State, and there was a decent balance early on, but the three interceptions turned into a killer and the game was over in the second quarter. So is it happening again? Is this another second half collapse that’s going to mean no bowl after a great start? Vanderbilt’s defense is playing well, and that’s on the road, but there’s still a layup against Charlotte to count on. It’s too early to think that negatively, but getting a win at home over Tennessee next week would be a massive sigh of relief after losing two straight.

    12. Vanderbilt (3-4)

    W, Missouri 10-3: Take it and run – it’s an SEC win. The defense is playing well enough to win with – forgetting that it helps to face the punchless Mizzou offense – while the offense continues to sputter and cough. The Commodores have yet to score more than 17 points against an FBS team, and that’s a problem with Houston and Florida up next and nothing to count on. Ralph Webb had a nice run and finished with 99 yards, but this game was about the defense coming up with stop after stop. It might not be pretty, and this won’t be a bowl season, but there’s something building here. If there’s just a little bit of offense to match – the team needs more playmakers – Derek Mason might be putting something strong together.

    13. Missouri (4-4)

    L, at Vanderbilt 10-3: Is that it? Is that the season? The offense has been absolutely abysmal, scoring just 12 points in the last three games and doing absolutely nothing on third downs. 0-for-14 on third downs, and 1-of-2 on fourth downs, the Tigers couldn’t move the chains and came up with just 188 yards of total offense, wasting a fantastic effort from the defense. Even with all the problems, the Tigers still had a chance late to pull it out, but Drew Lock and the passing game aren’t able to do much of anything – the receivers aren’t helping Lock out. With Mississippi State, BYU, Tennessee and Arkansas to close, can the Tigers get two more wins to salvage a bowl appearance? Not a chance with the way to O is playing.

    14. South Carolina (3-4)

    W, Vanderbilt 19-10: Okay, yeah, South Carolina fought through the adversity of its head ball coach quitting on the team, and just getting Shawn Elliott his first victory is all that matters, but this should’ve been a blowout. The defense forced five Vanderbilt turnovers, Perry Orth threw well, Brandon Wilds ran for 119 yards, and Pharoh Cooper had a huge catch and a big day, and it was still a 19-10 struggle. Why? The Gamecocks couldn’t convert on third down chances and settled for field goals instead of touchdowns on three drives. There’s still time to make something out of the season, but the offense has to figure out how to keep the chains moving against Texas A&M next week.

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