Was it ever really in doubt that the SEC is college football’s premier conference? The preseason narrative, and on-going pain point for this league, is the idea that the non-conference schedule as a whole is weak, therefore the SEC is less powerful than other conferences. Well, those critics should sit down and watch conference games, because it couldn’t be more competitive in the Southeastern Conference.
The top team in the SEC East fell on the road, a 15.5-point underdog scored a major victory in enemy territory, and the league’s top passing attack nearly lost to the SEC’s worst team. It’s pandemonium in college football in October, but would you really have it any other way?
STUD: Ed Orgeron, LSU
Big-time programs win big games in big moments, and that’s exactly what the LSU Tigers did when the undefeated Georgia Bulldogs came rolling into Baton Rouge. Ed Orgeron‘s program responded from a tough loss on the road against Florida the previous week by dominating Kirby Smart’s team from start to finish.
The game ball for this win could be in so many hands, but it deserves to be on a shelf in Orgeron’s office. This team was prepared both mentally and physically to take on Georgia, and now the fifth-ranked team in the nation has positioned themselves with a potential playoff spot on the line with a massive top-five matchup looming when the Alabama Crimson Tide visit Death Valley on November 3.
DUD: Auburn Tigers
What was thought to be a potential College Football Playoff-caliber team in 2018 has crumbled before we’ve even reached Halloween, and that falls directly on the visor of Gus Malzahn.
The Tigers controlled the game at the line of scrimmage, holding Tennessee to just 1.9 yards per rush attempt, but they shot themselves in the foot too many times and lost the game. Auburn was dominated in time of possession by almost 10 minutes and turned the ball over three times on the afternoon.
When you’re hosting a struggling Tennessee program in your own house, and you’re a 15.5-point favorite in the game, you do not lose, especially when the most difficult stretch of your schedule is ahead. Auburn will travel to play Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama and only has two home games remaining against Texas A&M and Liberty.
Auburn is now 4-3 overall and 1-3 in the SEC, and they didn’t receive a single vote on the Associated Press poll this week.
STUD: Betting the Over
Hopefully you placed your bets on some high scores this weekend, because all but two of the SEC’s games this week paid out for the points.
Missouri-Alabama only managed 49 points, which was way under the O/U at 71, and Texas A&M-South Carolina barely missed out, scoring 49 combined points as well, just three short of that line. Overall, the other four games on the schedule saw lots of points to pay out the overs, with an even split of three favorites covering the point spread (Alabama, Florida and Texas A&M).
It’s becoming the norm in college football, and the results are showing one steady trend: Keep betting on the points.
DUD: Arkansas’ Defense
The Arkansas Razorbacks are just the SEC’s version of the lovable loser. It seems like this team is on the cusp of relevancy, but week after week, they just find a way to blow it.
The Razorbacks were up 17 points on Ole Miss late in the second quarter, then managed to be up by 11 getting the ball back after the Rebels missed a short field goal early in the fourth. Then, Jordan Ta’amu and Ole Miss’ high-powered offense struck down the SEC’s worst team and rattled off 13 unanswered points to survive on the road.
Chad Morris and Arkansas dropped their sixth game in a row, and it’ll be a battle of epic proportions when the 1-5 Tulsa Golden Hurricane comes into Razorback Stadium next weekend. Things can’t get much worse, but if the Hogs drop that game, there’s going to be serious questions about a few jobs in Fayetteville.
STUD: Jarrett Guarantano, Tennessee
The sophomore quarterback of the Volunteers has gone through some growing pains in two seasons leading Tennessee, but there was no better time to log your first 300-yard passing game of your career in a huge win against a ranked team.
“Broadway Jay,” the pride of Lodi, New Jersey, showed out against Auburn on Saturday, setting career highs across the board by completing 21-of-32 passes for 328 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
The Volunteers were in danger of dropping three games in a row, but the sophomore saved the day with the game of his life. Hopefully he’s ready for another big performance because the Alabama Crimson Tide are headed to Knoxville next weekend.
DUD: The SEC Offices
When your team wins a massive college football game, fans are going to storm the field. So how does the SEC respond when an uncontrolled mob of LSU fans dashed onto the Tiger Stadium grass?
They responded by slapping the program with a $100,000 fine. It was the second “violation” by LSU under the conference’s rules, and a third instance would result in a $250K fine. It seems unfair the school has to pay out a huge fine for something that’s really impossible to stop, but it has to be the best $100K fine in the world for beating the 2nd-ranked team in the nation.
All the proceeds for that fine go towards the SEC Post-Graduate Scholarship fund, at least.