This weekend only allowed us eight teams to watch, as the six other teams either had their schedules moved around to not play this week or were already on their bye. In these writeups I’ll do my best to keep those teams in a more stagnant position as I don’t believe it’s fair to them to be bumped down when they weren’t able to support their claim and fight for their position. Of course, say, if Alabama would have lost to Tennessee last weekend, (hard to imagine, but at least try for the hypothetical situation) clearly, Tennessee would’ve overtaken Arkansas in the rankings.
1. Alabama (5-0) (No Change) – Head Coach (HC): Nick Saban
Offensive Coordinator (OC): Steve Sarkisian – Defensive Coordinator (DC): Pete Golding
Alabama goes into week 6 with a matchup against a floundering Mississippi State team off a bye. Oh, and before I forget, Alabama destroyed Tennessee 48-17 in a game they could’ve sleepwalked through. Unfortunately, though, it appears Jaylen Waddle will miss the remainder of the season after an ankle injury during the opening kickoff. Hopefully for him, he recovers swiftly and fully, because he has a bright career ahead of him. That said, Alabama is still doing Alabama things. Their games have seen them post point totals of 38, 52, 63, 41, and 48. Their secondary has still been prone to giving up big plays, though, so that might affect them against better teams. Regardless, they were able to go through the motions this week, so we’ll see how bad they beat State next week going into their bye the week following.
2. Georgia (3-1) (NC) – HC: Kirby Smart
OC: Todd Monken – DC: Dan Lanning
Georgia will be coming off a week of rest and practice ahead of their matchup against Kentucky. I’m not sure what the over/under for that game will be, but I’m almost certainly going to take the under. Georgia’s defense has been great so far this year, and with an extra week to prepare I’m not sure if Kentucky will score. Meanwhile, we’ll see what changes they’ve made (if any) to their offensive attack and quarterback situation.
3. Texas A&M (3-1) (NC) – HC: Jimbo Fisher
OC: Darrell Dickey – DC: Mike Elko
Texas A&M will be meeting Arkansas with both teams coming off bye weeks heading into their meetup in College Station. So far, A&M has controlled the line of scrimmage in most of their games, and they don’t really do many things wrong. The Aggies are also aware they control their destiny this season, so the motivation will be there to come out strong against a surprisingly decent Arkansas team this year. I believe their rushing has improved in every outing this year, so they should look to dominate Arkansas in that element, early.
4. Florida (2-1) (NC) – HC: Dan Mullen
OC: Brian Johnson – DC: Todd Grantham
It feels like eons since Florida last played, but they’ll finally be presuming business as usual starting again this weekend, in their matchup against Missouri. Missouri has increasingly looked better and better so far, and I expect this to be an entertaining matchup. It’s still hard to process exactly what to expect when they play though, just because it’s hard to fully predict if Florida will come out rusty or swinging. These are two offenses and quarterbacks that are fun to watch though, and I think there will be a plethora of yards through the air in this affair. But will Florida be able to correct their defensive woes? That remains the question.
5. Arkansas (2-2) (UP 1) – HC: Sam Pittman
OC: Kendal Briles – DC: Barry Odom
Arkansas, to me, remains the most surprising (in the good sense) team in the SEC so far. Barry Odom has this defense playing extraordinarily, and they’re allowing just 25.5 points per contest so far (11.3 less than last year). Although they’re giving up a lot of yards, they’re stopping teams when needed which is allowing them to stay in games. Offensively, with Franks at the helm, there’s an obvious ceiling, as I’ve said before. However, it does provide them with a subtly stable floor, as he isn’t really known for making extremely costly mistakes. Their offensive line still needs improving if they want to score more points, though. I believe they’ll continue to struggle in that area for the rest of the season, as they’re still yet to play some of the tough teams remaining on the schedule. But let’s see if Briles can work some magic and earn themselves some points.
6. Auburn (3-2)* (UP 3) – HC: Gus Malzahn
OC: Chad Morris – DC: Kevin Steele
Auburn was yet again the beneficiary of a very questionable review booth blunder against Ole Miss. They did, however, ultimately prevail 35-28 in that match. The good news for Auburn: Bo Nix looked much improved this week in passing accuracy and overall decision making. The bad news, on the other hand: they only averaged 4.8 yards per carry (YPC) against the worst defense in the conference, and their defense had so many missed assignments it was embarrassing to watch. Next week’s matchup for LSU might be a tough one for Auburn’s defense. We’ll see how the team performs there, because that’s a big deciding point for this season’s future.
7. Missouri (2-2) (UP 3) – HC: Eliah Drinkwitz
OC: N/A – DC: Ryan Walters
Drinkwitz is easily up there as one of the most underappreciated coaches in the conference already. Missouri is coming off a 20-10 victory over Kentucky, in which their defense only allowed Kentucky to run 36 PLAYS. 36. I Just read a stat, the last time Missouri held an in-conference opponent to 36 plays was 1966. Phenomenal. Meanwhile, the offense fell back to Earth, scoring just 20 points on almost 92 plays. The matchup next week against Florida in Gainesville should prove to be a more favorable one for the offense, though.
8. LSU (2-2) (UP 5) – HC: Ed Orgeron
OC: Steve Ensminger – DC: Bo Pelini
LSU’s defense has been completely sporadic this season, and you never know how they’re going to perform. On the other hand, the offense has beguiled us, averaging 486 yards of offense so far this year. They’ve posted point totals of 34, 41, 41, and 52 to this point, and their passing game has been phenomenal, regardless of the quarterback. Well, barring the two bad misthrows in their home opener. Bo Pelini is still yet to put together a full defensive performance though, and they’re still allowing teams 470 yards of offense and over 7 yards per play. Hopefully for LSU, the defense will fare well enough against Auburn this coming week.
9. Kentucky (2-3) (DN 4) – HC: Mark Stoops
OC: Eddie Gran – DC: Brad White
Kentucky got dominated by Missouri last week in the way Kentucky’s defense typically attempts to. They were outgained in yards 3:1, had 8 first downs all game, and only ran 36 plays. How does that happen? It’s unfortunate as well, because their defense was on the field for 92 plays and only allowed 4.6 yards per play and 20 points on the night. The offense will look to escape the ensuing stifling that will undoubtedly occur against Georgia this coming Saturday. Hopefully their defense rests up during the week and comes to play. This is going to be a tough one.
10. Tennessee (2-3) (DN 3) – HC: Jeremy Pruitt
OC: Jim Chaney – DC: Derrick Ansley
Ah, the third Saturday in October, where Tennessee gets beat down by Alabama every year. Oh wait, the third Saturday was last week in a blowout loss to Kentucky. Well, no matter. The rivalry game was moved to the fourth Saturday in October this year. But It didn’t change the outcome as Alabama still destroyed the Vols, 48-17. They’ve continued to regress categorically in almost every facet as the season’s progressed and it all starts with the quarterback play. Nonetheless, Tennessee fans are beginning to grow weary of this season and coaching staff. Bad news, Vol fans, you still have Arkansas (after the bye week), Florida, Auburn, and Texas A&M. Yikes.
11. South Carolina (2-3) (DN 3) – HC: Will Muschamp
OC: Mike Bobo – DC: Travaris Robinson
Phew, all the momentum the Gamecocks had stockpiled going into the LSU game just fell apart like some poorly stacked Lincoln Logs house. They got picked apart by a freshman QB in his first appearance, allowing over 12 yards per attempt. Additionally, they allowed LSU to have their best game on the ground by far as well. SC also only scored 24 points on a night they averaged almost 8 yards per play on offense… They’ll get a bye week to regroup which will be followed by a date with Texas A&M. They need things to turn around if Muschamp wants to secure his job.
12. Ole Miss (1-4) (DN 1) – HC: Lane Kiffin
OC: Jeff Lebby – DC: Durkin/Partridge
Ole Miss lost a heartbreaker to Auburn this past weekend. They got screwed over by a bad no-review on a play that should’ve resulted in an Ole Miss touchdown that instead granted Auburn the ball. What’s good for them still, their defense is progressing every game it seems. Their run defense is improving, and they only got beat for a long pass twice, and even that one was just because Seth Williams is a crazy playmaker. Point is, we’re seeing less breakdowns and overall stronger defensive performances. The offense is still more than capable moving the ball on almost anybody, and they’ve yet to go for less than 442 yards in a game so far. If they can limit turnovers, they should be able to accumulate a few more wins this year.
13. Mississippi State (1-3) (DN 1) – HC: Mike Leach
OC: Mike Leach – DC: Zach Arnett
State inconveniently comes back from their bye week into a matchup in the ring against Alabama. Fortunately for them, Alabama hasn’t been getting to the quarterback as often as they typically do. Mississippi State will be looking to answer many questions surrounding their offense though, and it’s yet to be seen if any of them will be answered this Saturday.
14. Vanderbilt (0-3) (NC) – HC: Derek Mason
OC: Todd Fitch – DC: Ted Roof
If anyone even noticed, it will be right at 21 days since Vanderbilt has taken the field. Surely they’ve improved in some areas, so I really believe this intermission in play will be more than useful for them (not that I’m actually saying they’ll win a game this year). Fortunately, though, they begin play back against Ole Miss and Mississippi State. But it’s all downhill from there. Moreover, In Derek Mason’s seven years over the program, they’ve never broken the .500 mark. I 100% do not believe this team will suddenly become super competitive spontaneously. However, as I previously stated, it would be really hard to see them getting worse than the numbers they’ve shown through their first three games. Good luck, Vanderbilt fans.
End of Season Predictions
Written by Alex Hill