Week eight SEC football reactions

SEC teams experienced everything from wrenching heartbreak to thrilling joy in week eight, proving why this conference is still one of the best in the nation. Here are some takeaways from another crazy week across the Southeastern Conference.

Welcome back, Leonard Fournette

LSU running back Leonard Fournette has officially risen from the ashes of injury, and he’s better than ever.

Fournette shined in his return with 284 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries, only eight of which were needed to topple the school’s rushing record.

He led the way for an LSU team that took the field with renewed vigor, as the then-ranked No. 25 Tigers (5-2, 3-1) upended Hugh Freeze’s Ole Miss Rebels (3-4, 1-3) in Death Valley on Saturday night.

Most didn’t expect this kind of turnaround after LSU fired longtime head coach Les Miles, but most don’t know much about interim head coach Ed Orgeron’s voodoo-riddled roots, either.

When Orgeron first got the job, he said it was like a dream, as the Cajun-bred guru hails from Louisiana. Now, it seems more like a good fit, rather than a dream.

The Tigers’ defense held the dynamic attack of Ole Miss to just 325 total yards — only 56 of which came in the second half — while the Bayou Bengal offense put up 515 total yards of its own.

Furthermore, Ole Miss averaged a meager 4.7 yards per snap in the loss, and Rebel gunslinger Chad Kelly — a preseason All-SEC favorite — threw two game-changing interceptions.

LSU heads into its bye week before hosting No. 1 Alabama, and at the rate the Tigers are playing, this might just shape up to be the best matchup of the year.

Alabama is (still) frustratingly good

Speaking of Alabama, the top-ranked Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0) rolled yet again in a 33-14 victory over No. 6 Texas A&M (6-1, 4-1), and the margin of victory was larger than many expected given the nature of these two offenses.

Nick Saban’s team powered through, however, reeling off 20 straight points to win after facing a 14-13 deficit early in the third quarter.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts threw for 164 yards and two touchdowns with 93 more yards on the ground, but the biggest story of the day was Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen.

With his team holding a tight 20-14 lead, Allen scooped up a Keith Ford fumble and raced into the end zone for the cushioning score the Tide needed to brush off the Aggies.

It’s hard to imagine any one football program being this outright dominating, but here we are yet again, as the Tide sit atop the polls in search for their 17th national championship.

It’s must be frustrating for other teams to watch the way Saban and Kiffin smirk at press conferences and the way the Crimson Tide race into the end zone, not to mention opposing offenses’ backfields time and time again.

But, that’s the way it is, and until a team worthy of challenging this seemingly unstoppable force of nature topples the Tide, that’s the way it’s going to be.

Missouri should be kicked out of the SEC

In an outcome few outside the Middle Tennessee State locker room expected, the Blue Raiders edged Missouri 51-45 on the Tigers’ own homecoming.

Shameful? Perhaps, at least for Missouri.

Stockstill quickly became the man of the hour on Saturday, and his 280 yards through the air and four touchdown passes led MTSU’s upset efforts on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, Mizzou’s Drew Lock completed only 50 percent of his passes on Saturday, and he added 281 yards and two touchdowns.

Over the past couple of years, the Tigers have fallen more and more out of relevancy in the college football world, and this loss removes all but the last remaining bits of argument for why they even belongs in the SEC.

Yes, the Tigers competed in the conference championship in 2014 and 2013. Since then, however, it’s been all downhill.

Missouri can, should and will be good again at some point.

For now, however, it must rest in the muck of its own mediocrity, and that muck sits at the bottom of the SEC East.

Watch out SEC West, Auburn is for real

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said it best.

The Tigers’ showing against Arkansas “was really unbelievable.”

Although Malzahn said these words in reference to Auburn’s ability to hold Arkansas to 25 yards rushing, they still apply to the game as a whole. With a victory margin no one expected, Auburn went pedal-to-the-metal in a 56-3 drubbing of the visiting Arkansas Razorbacks.

The Tigers’ defense held Arkansas to just 215 yards of total offense, but it was Auburn’s running backs who made the biggest impact on the game.

With top rusher Kerryon Johnson sidelined with an injury, the Tigers’ reserves didn’t look like backups, and former Auburn great Bo Jackson was there to see it all.

Eli Stove started off the scoring spree, scampering for a 78-yard touchdown on Auburn’s first play of the day.

The momentum only built from there, as the Tigers’ rushing attack, led by Kamryn Pettway, combined for 543 total yards on 57 carries. Breaking an SEC regular-season game rushing record isn’t an easy feat, but Auburn made it look that way.

Few people thought that Auburn had the stuff to make a name for itself this season, but the Tigers are proving everyone wrong time and time again.

Edited by Adam Milliken

Featured image by Sumner Gilliam

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Sports editor Jake Nichols has been part of the TNJN staff in two different capacities. His freshman and sophomore years, Jake worked as a staff writer before moving on to write for Rocky Top Insider, and he also worked with VFL Films and the SEC Network for a semester his junior year. When asked the summer before his senior year to return to TNJN as the sports editor, Jake jumped at the chance to end his time in Knoxville working with the organization he first began with as a freshman. Jake is excited to help lead younger writers, much like former editors Cody McClure and Jordan Dajani aided him. Jake also does freelance sports coverage and photography for The Mountain Press in Sevierville, Tenn., and in his spare time, he can be found with family, his girlfriend or driving his Jeep, most likely with his Canon in tow. Be sure and follow Jake on Twitter and Instagram at @jnichols_2121, and keep up with TNJN Sports on Twitter as well!