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SEC Round-Up: Week 8: No hangover in Knoxville as Vols roll in sparse week in the SEC

The Vols showed no signs of slowing down against UT-Martin, LSU makes comeback, blows out Ole Miss

NCAA Football: Tennessee-Martin at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee continued its explosive ways as they rolled FCS UT-Martin while LSU continues to be the biggest conundrum in the SEC, waxing Ole Miss after stumbling out of the gates. Alabama responded with a dominant but sloppy win over Mississippi State, and there’s an upset wagon officially upon us as South Carolina is rolling in October, this time over the spiraling Texas A&M Aggies.


SEC East

1 Georgia | 7-0 (4-0) | +228 PD (292 F, 64 A)
3 Tennessee | 7-0 (3-0) | +189 PD (351 F, 162 A)
25 South Carolina | 5-2 (2-2) | +58 PD (232 F, 174 A)
19 Kentucky | 5-2 (2-2) | +70 PD (185 F, 115 A)
Florida | 4-3 (1-3) | +23 PD (220 F, 197 A)
Missouri | 3-4 (1-3) | +6 PD (168 F, 162 A)
Vanderbilt | 3-5 (0-4) | -80 PD (213 F, 293 A)

SEC West

6 Alabama | 7-1 (4-1) | +212 PD (345 F, 133 A)
18 LSU | 6-2 (4-1) | +112 PD (281 F, 169 A)
15 Ole Miss 7-1 (3-1) | +140 PD (306 F, 166 A)
Mississippi State | +71 PD (254 F, 183 A)
Arkansas | 4-3 (1-3) | +1 PD (229 F, 228 A)
Auburn | 3-4 (1-3) | -42 PD (156 F, 198 A)
Texas A&M | 3-4 (1-3) | +10 PD (153 F, 143 A)


Tennessee: Vols crush UT-Martin on Homecoming, 65-24

Coming off the biggest win in the program’s recent history, Tennessee came out swinging early against a very inferior UT-Martin. The Vols exploded out of the gate, taking a 52-7 lead into the half. Needless to say, the backups were in right away as the second half began.

The defense forced a pair of turnovers in the first quarter which was a pleasant sight after last week. Offensively, they kept on keepin’ on, especially Hooker and Hyatt.

Hooker bolstered his Heisman case as much as one can against UT-Martin, going 18-of-24 for 276 yards and three touchdowns, and in the rare instances the Vols got behind the sticks, number 5 came through with his arm and legs as he always does.

As for the breakout star of the Vols, the SEC, heck, the country, Jalin Hyatt hauled in seven passes for 174 yards and two more touchdowns, all by halftime.

Hyatt now has 13 catches for 381 yards and seven touchdowns in his last six quarters of play. Who saw this coming? *points at self in mirror*

I compared Hyatt’s ascension to that of Justin Jefferson’s—I am NOT saying he will be the same level of a pro as Jefferson—but this kind of jump isn’t normal. Hyatt is blossoming into more than just a deep threat. He’s gone from the receiver who, if he developed into half of what he’s become, could take this offense to the next level, to a next level game breaker in the most explosive offense in the country.

Also, Princeton Fant: Quarterback is my favorite player in the country.

Josh Heupel is now 14-6 in his first 20 games. Needless to say, it’s the best of any coach since Fulmer posted the same record over his first 20. Big things a’brewing in Knoxville. Kentucky awaits next, and then Georgia.

Georgia: IDLE

South Carolina: Gamecocks are an upset wagon, crack top 25

Perhaps it’s time we take South Carolina a bit more seriously. The Gamecocks got blown out by Georgia and Arkansas, but since then, they’re 4-0 with upset wins at Kentucky and now against Jimbo’s ticking time bomb Aggies.

Beamer’s squad got off to a hot start as Xavier Legette returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.

This sparked a 17-0 start for South Carolina, and though A&M answered with 14 consecutive points, it proved to be too much as South Carolina kept A&M’s inept offense at arm’s length the rest of the way.

Yes, A&M is clearly a disaster, but it’s impressive how South Carolina answered following a 1-2 start to the season. They’ve taken care of business against Charlotte and South Carolina State, but they’ve now upset a Will Levis-less Kentucky team in Lexington and A&M in consecutive games. I said they would be frisky, and they’re proving just that.

This upset train will take a brief stop as they take on Missouri and Vanderbilt next, but watch out in the Swamp come November.

Kentucky: IDLE

Florida: IDLE

Missouri: Back in the win column

Mizzou did all of their scoring in the first half, but it was enough as they beat Vandy, 17-14.

Brady Cook was less than stellar once again, but another great effort from this much improved Missouri defense held what’s been a rather solid Vandy offense to just 4.07 yards per play. What’s all the more impressive is that this unit had the pressure solely placed on them in the second half as the offense gave them zero points in support, and they performed.

Luther Burden III had by far his best game of his freshman campaign, hauling in all four of his targets for 66 yards and a touchdown.

Vanderbilt: Commodores remain winless in conference play

Vandy moved to 0-4 in conference play, dropping one of the few winnable games remaining on their schedule.

A late touchdown from Mike Wright to Gamarion Carter cut the Mizzou lead to 17-14, but that’s where it remained for the final four minutes.

There’s not a lot to say about Vandy. It’s a long, slow climb out of the gutter of any Power Five conference, but in the SEC, it’s like falling down a well with no rope to help you back up. Vandy plays host to South Carolina next week.


Alabama: Tide look sharp early, coast to 30-6 win

What a weird game.

This game was tailor-made for Alabama. Their biggest problem a week ago against Tennessee were matchups and getting out-schemed defensively. Tennessee found great success running against the Tide’s cheetah package and six defensive back formations, and when Alabama brought an extra linebacker on the field to slow down the run, the Vols schemed up Hyatt in stacks to isolate him on a safety.

Mike Leach isn’t capable of any of that, and Alabama certainly didn’t have to worry about any notable rushing attack, allowing them to pin their ears back and get after Will Rogers, and they did just that, tallying four sacks.

Bryce Young was fine in the first half, taking advantage of State’s over-aggressiveness on fourth down and converting it to points, but Alabama’s second half offense was one big snooze fest. The Tide’s second half drive chart went: punt, punt, fumble, field goal, field goal, punt. Nasty business. It definitely feels like this offense is a step below what we’re accustomed to from Saban. They still easily rolled.

LSU: Tigers overcome deficit, roll 7th ranked Ole Miss with 28 unanswered

An early banner day in the Brian Kelly era. LSU found themselves down 17-3 early in the second quarter, but they picked themselves up, dusted it off, and proceeded to outscore Ole Miss 42-3 over the next 44 minutes.

This is the LSU team we’re liable to seeing every week. They can be this good at any point. Their problem is getting there. Against Tennessee, they shot themselves in the foot and got behind early, and here, it was the same situation. Three pass interference penalties and a dropped interception all went against the Tigers in Ole Miss’s touchdown drive midway through the first. LSU’s ensuing possession was a missed field goal, and it looked like the same team that Tennessee walked all over. Far from it.

Jayden Daniels followed up his best passing game at LSU against Florida with a career performance here, going 21-of-28 for 248 yards and two touchdowns and adding 121 yards and three scores on the ground.

On paper, LSU is one of the fifteen best teams in the country. They do, however, have a lot of variance offensively. They can get into ruts and become one-dimensional as they’ve shown in their performances against Tennessee and Auburn, but if their recent two games are any indicator, they might be turning the corner. They’ve scored 45 points and totaled 500 total yards of offense in consecutive games, and Jayden Daniels is playing fantastic football with a ground attack to compliment that.

Defensively, the front continues to generate pressure and cause havoc, making life miserable for Jaxson Dart. LSU has a bye and then welcome Alabama to Death Valley to begin November. It’ll be very interesting to see which LSU offense shows up for that game.

Ole Miss: Rebels get steamrolled in Death Valley

It was a day to forget for Lane Kiffin and co. even if it didn’t start that way.

All the breaks went in favor of Ole Miss early, but that quickly subsided as the better team very quickly flexed their muscles in the second quarter. Jaxson Dart had his worst game as the Ole Miss QB, completing just 19 of his 34 attempts for 284 yards and an interception. Without Zach Evans in the backfield to compliment Quinshon Judkins, a lot of the offensive workload fell onto Dart, and it proved to be overwhelming.

Judkins was great, rushing for 111 yards and two touchdowns, but Ole Miss’s inability to answer any of LSU’s scoring drives drove them into the ground.

The Rebel defense was weak in the South per usual, allowing LSU to score touchdowns on each of their final four possessions. This was a four point game in the third quarter.

Ole Miss gets their chance to rebound, but they’ll have to do so at Kyle Field.

Mississippi State: Points hard to come by in 30-6 loss in Tuscaloosa

Mike Leach certainly didn’t shy away from taking gambles. Mississippi State went for it on fourth down a lot in this game, mostly to the detriment of themselves. How much of a factor was State’s failures on fourth down in this game? Overall, the Bulldogs were 3-of-6 on fourth down conversions, but none of their successful conversions led to points. Let’s take a look:

1st Quarter
4th and 3 at ‘Bama 15: Incomplete pass (0-0)

4th and 2 at ‘Bama 39: Rogers 3 yard run
4th and 1 at ‘Bama 27: Marks 2 yard run
Missed field goal (0-7)

2nd Quarter
4th and 1 at State 29: Incomplete pass (0-14)
This led to an Alabama touchdown four plays later and a 21-0 deficit.

3rd Quarter
4th and 12 at ‘Bama 31: Incomplete pass (0-24)

4th Quarter
4th and 10 at 50: Alabama pass interference (6-30)

Field goals don’t beat Alabama, but giving the Tide the ball inside their 30 already up 14-0 seems like a bad idea.

State’s defense was mostly good in this game. They held Alabama under 300 total yards of offense and to six points in the second half, but the offense just never got anything going. Will Rogers threw 60 passes in this game, completing 30 of them for 231 yards. This was always going to be a bad matchup for Mississippi State’s offense, and it shined through immediately. 3.37 yards per play is just sinful.

State gets a minor break from top 25 teams as they get a bye before welcoming Auburn to Starkville to kick off November.

Arkansas: IDLE

Auburn: IDLE

Texas A&M: Dumpster fire

Texas A&M last played a home game on September 17 when they beat Miami. They return home next week with a 3-4 record having lost three straight games. The wheels are completely off for Jimbo and the Aggies, and it would be beating a dead horse to say all Jimbo has to do is look in a mirror to find out why.

Since coming to the SEC in 2012, A&M had never lost to South Carolina. 7-0. That was until Saturday when Jimbo’s house of horrors made its way to South Carolina. Haynes King played poorly again while Devon Achane and Evan Stewart continue to be the lone bright spots on arguably the worst offense in the SEC.

The Aggies defense held their own, but when the offense and special teams are creating negative plays or giving points up altogether, their successes were mitigated.

A&M will return to College Station next week to play Ole Miss next week.


Syndication: The Daily Advertiser SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network / USA TODAY NETWORK

Daniels did it all in LSU’s decisive 45-20 win over Ole Miss. He threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns and led all SEC rushers in yards and touchdowns with 121 on the ground and three more scores. Five touchdown games will usually get you OPOW, and that’s what Daniels gets this week.


Vanderbilt v Missouri Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images

Not often does a performance against the run garner a Defensive Player of the Week award, mostly because it’s the hardest to show up in a box score and flash at you. Despite a losing effort this week, Anfernee Orji was dominant against Missouri all day long, tallying a sack, 2.5 tackles for loss, and eight stops against the run per PFF, more than double the next closest player in the conference. Vandy likely won’t account for many of these, but recognition is due here.