SEC games to watch in week six

No. 9 Tennessee at No. 8 Texas A&M

College Station plays host to the biggest game in the SEC this week, which premieres two of only three SEC teams still undefeated. Tennessee is coming off of a last second, 34-31 Hail Mary victory over Georgia, and Texas A&M is coming off of a 24-13 win over South Carolina.

The Vols have been down early in every game this season, however, their exceptional second-half play has continued to pull the team forward. Putting a full game together is essential to Tennessee’s success this week in College Station. Meanwhile, this is the biggest test that Texas A&M has faced so far. As usual, the Aggies have a potent offense that has the ability to put huge offensive numbers up. The matchups in the trenches will be interesting to watch, as two of some of the best defensive lineman in the country — Myles Garrett and Derek Barnett — will show off at Kyle Field. The Vols will once again go without Cam Sutton and Darrin Kirkland Jr., while Aggie receivers Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones are banged up. Only one team can leave undefeated.

No. 1 Alabama at No. 16 Arkansas

These two teams are entering this week on a high note. Last week Arkansas throttled Alcorn State 52-10 and Alabama beat SEC East opponent Kentucky by a convincing score of 34-6.

The Crimson Tide offense has looked formidable all year under the lead of true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts and star receiver Calvin Ridley. Even more impressive has been the Alabama defense, as it has only allowed a touchdown in two of its games this year. While Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen has provided solid play for the Razorbacks, they will need help from both their running game and their defense to pose a threat to Alabama. If the Razorbacks manage to run the ball and complement Allen in the air, the Razorbacks could force the Tide defense to struggle. An interesting matchup to watch will be the Arkansas offensive line against the Crimson Tide front seven, led by linebacker Reuben Foster. Alabama has shown tendencies to start slow, and if the Razorbacks manage to get up on the Tide early, this could be a fun game to watch.

Georgia at South Carolina

Both teams are coming off of disappointing losses last week. South Carolina lost a tight game to Texas A&M 24-13, while the Georgia Bulldogs lost on a heartbreaking Hail Mary as time expired to Tennessee.

Despite losing to Tennessee on a last second touchdown, the Georgia offense has looked good all season under freshman quarterback Jacob Eason, who showed his potential in the last drive against Tennessee. While the Bulldog offense has pulled its weight, the Georgia defense has struggled to keep opposing teams from scoring and has made it hard for the team to win games. South Carolina has been a different story under first-year head coach Will Muschamp. The Gamecocks have been thriving on defense, but have yet to have the offense to match. South Carolina’s offense has struggled as a result of the rotating quarterback situation that has yet to be settled. The absence of a true leader on that side of the ball has kept the offense from reaching its full potential. A matchup to watch will be Georgia’s Jacob Eason against the impressive South Carolina defense. If the Georgia defense can step up or the South Carolina offense can come alive, this one could be close.

Other games in the SEC

Auburn at Mississippi State

Vanderbilt at Kentucky

Edited by Nathan Odom

Featured image by Sumner Gilliam 

SEC games to watch in week five

Photo by: ikwildrpepper

No. 11 Tennessee at No. 25 Georgia

This might be the biggest SEC game this week, potentially deciding who goes to the SEC Championship from the East.

The Vols come into this game 4-0 on the year, after just ending the streak against rival Florida. Tennessee has shown how powerful both their offense and defense can be, however, they have yet to string a full game together this season. The Georgia Bulldogs are coming off of a devastating 45-14 beat down at the hands of the Ole Miss Rebels, and are looking for revenge after the Vols comeback win last season. Both teams are pretty banged up as Tennessee will go without star cornerback Cam Sutton and linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr., while the Bulldogs have dynamic running back Nick Chubb listed as questionable.

There’s no doubt the Vols have more momentum going into Athens, but Georgia is playing for revenge and to keep their SEC Championship hopes alive.

Missouri at LSU

This matchup is sure to be interesting. LSU just recently fired their longtime head coach Les Miles, as well as offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, after an 18-13 loss to unranked Auburn. Missouri on the other hand, is coming off a school record, 79-0 beat down against Delaware State.

Normally, LSU would be heavily favored in this matchup. But with the current state of affairs at LSU, and Missouri’s surprising offensive production, it could be interesting. LSU still has the obvious talents of running back Leonard Fournette and their defense, but their success depends on the offense’s ability to respond to adversity and get the run game going.

Missouri has had a solid defense this year, and the offense has been powerful under quarterback Drew Lock. The Tigers will need a running game against the stout LSU defense to allow their impressive pass offense to open up. This is the most interesting game in the SEC this week.

Memphis at No. 16 Ole Miss

Ole Miss is coming off an impressive 45-14 win against Georgia and have improved to 2-2 on the year, while the Memphis Tigers just beat Bowling Green State 77-3.

The Ole Miss defense had a strong performance last week, forcing two turnovers and holding freshman quarterback Jacob Eason to just 137 yards through the air. The Rebel offense is led by the formidable Chad Kelly, who has been on fire lately.

Memphis, in its first year under new head coach Mike Norvell, has not disappointed thus far. While the Tigers have not exactly had the toughest first three games, they have dominated in each of them. Led by Tennessee transfer Riley Ferguson, Memphis has hung 155 points on their first three opponents, while only giving up 27. While Ole Miss looked solid last week, the Memphis Tigers and their high-powered offense are sure to bring a fight to Oxford.

No. 23 Florida at Vanderbilt

The Florida Gators are entering this game after a disappointing 38-28 collapse against Tennessee last week, their first loss to the Vols in over a decade. Now 2-2 on the season, Vanderbilt is coming off a close 31-30 overtime win against Western Kentucky.

The Gators will once again be led by backup quarterback Austin Appleby, who looked good against Tennessee, until the Vols’ defense took control in the second half. The Florida defense was also left reeling after the last game, but is sure to be ready for revenge and to reinstate itself as the best defense in the SEC. Vandy has clearly struggled in the first four games of the season, but on the bright side, the Commodores have had a fierce run game behind Ralph Webb and look to continue that against the Gators. If this Florida team comes into the game looking as it did in the second half against Tennessee, and the Commodores manage to get a passing game going, this could be a competitive game.

Edited by Dalton King 

Featured image by ikwildrpepper 

Top SEC performers from week four

Week four was an interesting week and the SEC was full of surprises as usual. Let’s take a look at some of the week’s top performers.

Chad Kelly, Ole Miss QB

The score was 45-14 as the No. 23 Ole Miss Rebels handedly beat the No. 12 Georgia Bulldogs in Oxford on Saturday. Chad Kelly had a signature performance, throwing for 282 yards, two touchdowns and adding a 41 yard touchdown on the ground. With this game, Kelly passed Ole Miss great Eli Manning for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass in school history. If Chad Kelly was not already dubbed the best quarterback in the SEC, this puts him ahead of the pack.

Missouri offense

While the Tigers were playing a cupcake Delaware State team, they still managed to hang 79 points and shut them out. For the second time in four games, Missouri quarterback Drew Lock threw for over 400 yards and five touchdowns. The Tigers had three receivers with more than 100 yards and one of them, J’Mon Moore, had four touchdowns alone. In a complete beatdown, the Mizzou offense had five rushing touchdowns as well.

Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee QB

This was a big week for the No. 14 ranked Vols, as they ended the 11-year losing streak to the Florida Gators at home after a 38-28 win. Tennessee was down at 21-3 at halftime, with quarterback Josh Dobbs only having 84 passing yards in the first half. However, the second half was a much different story as Dobbs lead the Vols to 38 unanswered points. The senior quarterback finished the game with 319 yards passing for four touchdowns, as well as scoring one on the ground.

Trevor Knight, Texas A&M QB

The Aggies’ offense had a big-time performance as they beat the No. 17 Arkansas Razorbacks 45-24 at Cowboy Stadium. At the half, the two teams were tied. However, quarterback Trevor Knight led them to a second half surge that would put the nail in the coffin for Arkansas. Knight passed for 225 yards and two touchdowns, also leading the Aggies in rushing, with an impressive 157 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. A newcomer in the SEC, Trevor Knight has secured his spot as one of the best quarterbacks in the conference this year.

Auburn defense

The Auburn defense played a fantastic game in a 18-13 upset win over the No.18 LSU Tigers. They held LSU quarterback Danny Etling to just 118 passing yards and one touchdown and the dynamic Leonard Fournette to just over 100 yards. The Tigers were able to hold off the late-game rally from LSU to improve their record to 2-2 on the season.

Edited by Dalton King 

Feature image by Sumner Gilliam

Rocky Topics: What will Jalen Hurd’s legacy be?

In this week’s Rocky Topics, Seth Raborn and David Bradford argue what Jalen Hurd’s legacy will be when it is all said and done.

Raborn: It is hard to rank Jalen Hurd on the best running backs in Tennessee history. Considering the fact that the Vols have had great backs like Travis Henry, Arian Foster, Jamal Lewis, Cedric Houston and James Stewart, it becomes more challenging to rank Hurd among them. Hurd currently being ranked eighth in all-time school rushing yards is the most concerning stat. Obviously, he still has his senior year, unless he were to declare for the NFL Draft. For the time being, it is hard to argue Hurd’s place in history when several Tennessee backs have also had good NFL careers. Hurd has yet to finish his junior season on Rocky Top, which makes it difficult to give him a definitive place among other Tennessee greats. Realistically, if Hurd finishes this season and his senior season (if he stays) the way he has the past two years, he will finish in the top three in rushing yards in Tennessee history. However, with Hurd often splitting carries with Alvin Kamara and the possibility of him leaving after this year, it is safe to assume that it could be a tight finish for most rushing yards in Tennessee history.

Bradford: Hurd’s place as the Vols’ all-time greatest running back is more dependent on how this season plays out, rather than his career rushing yards. There’s little doubt that by the end of the season, Hurd will be the most prolific back in program history. But, what Hurd really needs is a signature moment. A moment that cements his career at Tennessee as unforgettable. He can rush for all the yards he wants, but if the Vols fall short of expectations, then his legacy won’t be as the all-time leading rusher in Tennessee history. It’ll be that he was a big part of a team that couldn’t live up to expectations. The Vols will live up to expectations and as a result, Hurd will be recognized as the program’s top running back.

Raborn:  Jalen Hurd is arguably the best running back the Vols have had in the past decade. He also has a great chance of topping the leader boards when his career is over. I find it hard to believe that Hurd will be able to top Travis Henry or Jamal Lewis as the best running back to ever play for Tennessee. Henry and Lewis shared carries the majority of their careers and they’re still two of the greatest running backs in Tennessee history. If they had been the sole workhorse of a team, it’s hard to deny that they would’ve had even more impressive career statistics. Jamal Lewis didn’t share carries his freshman season and he ran for over 1,350 yards. In his two seasons sharing carries, he combined for just over 1,300 yards. In those two seasons, he shared carries with Henry, who rushed for a combined 1,750-plus yards. In his senior season, though, Henry didn’t share the work load and he rushed for over over 1,300 yards. Some may say that Hurd and Kamara splitting carries is comparable to Henry and Lewis, but the split of carries heavily favors Hurd in this instance. If the stats continue to trend the way they do, I think Jalen Hurd will finish as the third best running back in Tennessee history.

Bradford: The statistical argument is fair and Hurd is definitely not one of the nation’s top rushing threats. But, every year, college football becomes more competitive and physical. Thriving in this era is more impressive than thriving in the late 1990’s simply because players are more athletic and defensive schemes are more complex. Again, it’s more than the statistics, it’s Hurd’s impact on the program’s success. If he’s the workhorse that sends the Orange and White to the SEC Championship — and potentially beyond — then that carries much more weight than how many rushing yards he finishes with.

Edited by Adam Milliken

Featured image by Hayley Pennesi, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics