While the Big Ten and Pac-12 start their seasons this weekend, the SEC finds themselves at the halfway point of their 10-game conference-only schedule.
The SEC East is up for grabs as everyone in the division suffered at least one loss. Will Georgia and Florida regain their footing, or will Kentucky and South Carolina rise from the ashes to challenge the division title?
Here are some critical matchups for Week Five in the SEC.
Auburn (2-2) at Ole Miss (1-3), Noon, EST
The Rebels offense was the SEC’s talk after running up 647 yards and 48 points against Alabama. However, Matt Corral’s nosedive against Arkansas (6 INT) in a 33-21 loss put a damper on Oxford’s offensive party.
Auburn has problems of their own, coming off their first loss against South Carolina since 1933 (won 8 previous games Gamecocks). If not for a favorable ruling on a fumble against the Razorbacks, Auburn would be reeling.
What a win would mean for Auburn – with two losses already, the Tigers need to gain momentum hosting LSU next week.
What a win would mean for Ole Miss – some legitimacy to what’s become an offensive circus in the Rebels first four games.
Auburn – ran for over 200 yards against Arkansas (259) and South Carolina (209), after totaling only 130 yards in first two games.
Ole Miss – defense allowing 579.5 total yards per game (2nd to last in nation) and 47.0 PPG (last in the nation).
Series – Auburn’s won four straight and 22 of last 27 overall, including three straight and nine of last 11 at Ole Miss.
1st 3 Games
Ole Miss PPG
Kentucky (2-2) at Missouri (1-2), 4:00 PM EST
Both teams are coming off wins. The Tigers rallied against LSU (stopped the defending champions on four straight plays at the 1-yd line). Kentucky’s defense has straightened up after allowing 783 yards and 71 points in their first two losses. The Wildcats held Mississippi State and Tennessee to under 300 yards each, while allowing just nine total points.
What a Kentucky win would mean: The Wildcats can create a chance for themselves in the East as they prepare to host Georgia next week.
What a Missouri win would mean: A second straight upset at home would put fate in their own hands as they travel to Florida and host Georgia the next two weeks.
Kentucky – lead SEC in rushing (206 Rush YPG)
Missouri – last time hosting Kentucky, the Tigers blew a 14-3 lead in final five minutes with Kentucky connecting on the GW score on the final play of the game
First 2 Games
Last 2 Games
Tennessee (2-2) at #2 Alabama (4-0), 3:30 PM EST
After seeing their eight-game win streak snapped at Georgia, the Vols laid an egg against Kentucky at home, losing 34-7.
Meanwhile, the Tide keep on rolling towards another College Football Playoff appearance. Alabama punished #3 Georgia in the second half, scoring the final 24 points in a 41-24 victory over the Bulldogs on Saturday.
Alabama totaled 325 yards (85 rushing yards) on their final six drives as Nick Saban improved to 22-0 against former assistants and 3-0 against Kirby Smart.
Last Six Quarters
Turnover on Downs
What a Win Would Mean For Tennessee – end their two-game losing streak and shock, everyone.
What a Win Would Mean For Alabama – mark their 29th straight victory over an SEC East opponent and move them closer to another SEC West title.
Tennessee – Since leading Georgia 21-17 at halftime in Week Three, the Vols 19 offensive possessions resulted in eight punts, seven turnovers, two turnovers on downs, three defensive TD, and one offensive TD.
Alabama – John Metchie III and Jaylen Waddle recorded TD receptions of 40 and 91 yards against Georgia. The Crimson Tide registered 47 TD from scrimmage 30-yards or longer since the start of the 2018 season.
Other Alabama offensive streaks
scored 35 or more points in 16 straight games overall (new CFB record) and 14 consecutive SEC games
Najee Harris – Scored at least one TD in 11 straight games, totaling 1,272 rushing yards and 23 rushing TD over that span
Series – Alabama won 13 straight against Tennessee
South Carolina (2-2) at LSU (1-2), 7:00 PM EST
The Gamecocks ended a historic streak against Auburn, defeating them for the first time since joining the SEC in 1992. Carolina forced Bo Nix into three INT (forced 8 TO in their last three games), winning their second straight, 30-22. Kevin Harris ranks fourth in the SEC in yards from scrimmage (495) and second in rushing TD (6).
The defending National Champions will try to get back on track after losing to Missouri. The Tigers failed to tally the winning TD after a penalty placed the ball on the one-yard line, unable to score on their four tries.
What a Win Would Mean For South Carolina – give them three straight wins heading into a showdown against #7 Texas A&M in Columbia.
What a Win Would Mean For LSU – save further embarrassment after bad losses to Mississippi State and Missouri.
South Carolina’s Tough Stretch
2020 Schedule, Games 3-6
Streak Entering Game
10/17/2020 vs Auburn
Lost 8 straight
10/24/2020 at LSU
Lost 6 straight
10/31/2020 vs Texas A&M
Lost 6 straight
South Carolina – looking to win three straight SEC games for the first time since 2017.
LSU – rank last in the SEC and second to last in the nation in Passing YPG allowed (380.7).
Series – LSU has won six straight and are 18-1-1 in their last 20 games against South Carolina. This game marks the first time since the Gamecocks only win against LSU in 1994 that the Tigers are not ranked entering their matchup.
As the days turn darker, so make the minds of many NFL fans. Week Six in the NFL saw further separation from the phonies to phenomenal as the season nears the halfway point.
Saying goodbye to Week Six and hello to Week Seven brings us another entry into Five Interesting Stats. (*courtesy of NFL.com research).
Big Ben Owns Browns – Ben Roethlisberger improved to 13-0 at home in his career against Cleveland. Roethlisberger’s 22 TD in those 13 games featured winning 11 of them by double-digits.
Career at home vs Cleveland
Steelers Double-Digit Wins
Jimmy Doesn’t Lose Twice in a Row – After a poor performance against the Dolphins in Week Five, Jimmy Garappolo and San Francisco rebounded against the Rams. Garappolo threw for 268 yards and three TD passes in the Niners 24-16 victory. In his career, Garappolo improved to 6-0 with a 72 percent completion percentage and 16 TD in the ensuing game following a loss.
Career following a loss
The Lock of the Broncos – *In Denver’s 18-12 victory over Bill Belichick’s Patriots in New England, QB Drew Lock threw two INTs. Lock joined Hall of Fame QB Kurt Warner (11/18/01) as the only QB to throw multiple INT and win a road game against Belichick’s Patriots.
Opposing QB with multiple INT
Won at NE in Belichick Era
Drew Lock, DEN
Kurt Warner, STL
Seahawks Undefeated – Russell Wilson and Seattle did not play in Week Six, as they place their perfect record on the line against Arizona this Sunday. Despite starting 5-0, the Seahawks allow the most yards ( and own the smallest point differential of any previous team to start 5-0.
Most Yards Allowed
Teams to Start 5-0 Since Merger
2020 Seattle Seahawks
2018 Kansas City Chiefs
2013 Denver Broncos
2011 Green Bay Packers
Oh, Henry! – Titans RB Derrick Henry continued his exceptional season, running for 212 yards and two TD in the Titans 42-36 OT win against Houston. In his last eight games (postseason included), Henry has 1,176 yards rushing and ten rushing TD. Sunday’s game marked the second straight game Henry rushed for over 200 yards against Houston over that span.
Week Four of SEC Football brings us the most anticipated matchup of the season. Georgia invades Tuscaloosa this Saturday.
Even without the news today of Nick Saban testing positive for COVID-19, this game had everyone’s interest.
While not having the best football coach (college or pro) on the sideline will be a change, Alabama’s accountability system shouldn’t miss a beat. I’m certain knowing his greater access to critiquing their mistakes might help inspire his players.
#3 Georgia (3-0) at #2 Alabama (3-0) 8:00 PM EST
Strength vs. Strength
The highest-scoring offense (51.0 PPG) squares off against the nation’s second-ranked defense (236.0 YPG). Can Mac Jones and his elite group of offensive weapons achieve the same success against Azeez Ojulari, Monte Rice, and Eric Stokes?
Ojulari, who plays the “Jack” position on Georgia’s defense (a combination of OLB and DE), helped key the Bulldogs second-half domination in their victory over #14 Tennessee on Saturday. Ojulari won SEC defensive player of the week, registering two sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. Georgia held the Vols to just 71 total yards in the second half.
Offense vs Defense
>>First in Nation
Alabama erupted for 723 yards of total offense in their win over the Rebels (the most since putting up 833 during a 77-6 win against Virginia Tech on October 27, 1973). Mac Jones leads the nation in passer rating (220.3) and yards per completion (13.3). Equally impressive is his 79.5 completion percentage while registering over 13 yards per completion.
There isn’t enough space to write about all of Alabama’s offensive weapons, so rather than deal with the endless amount of individuals (Najee Harris, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, John Metchie III), I’d rather focus on the offense as a whole.
Alabama has won 27 straight games against SEC East opponents (their last loss came at South Carolina on October 9, 2010).
Overall, Alabama is 35-3 against SEC East opponents under Nick Saban (14-1 at home, 14-1 on the road, 7-1 on neutral fields)
Since 2007 (Saban’s first year at Alabama), Alabama and Georgia own the two highest win percentages in SEC play.
SEC Standings Overall
Alabama has won five straight against Georgia (One National Championship, two SEC Championship Games, and two regular-season games).
Nick Saban is 21-0 against former assistants, although he will not be on the sideline this Saturday against former assistant Kirby Smart (0-2 vs. Saban).
Can Georgia finally put Alabama away if they hold a late lead?
In three of their last four meetings, Georgia failed to hold a second half lead. In the 2018 SEC Championship, Alabama closed the game on a 21-0 run. In the 2017 National Championship, the Bulldogs failed to hold a 20-7 second-half lead in a 26-20 loss in OT. In their 2012 regular-season matchup, Alabama outscored Georgia 22-7 after the Bulldogs opened up a 21-10 lead in third quarter.
Georgia Blown Leads
Second Half vs Alabama
2018 SEC Championship
2017 National Championship
L, 26-20 (OT)
2012 Regular Season Meeting
Can Georgia score enough to compete with Alabama?
Georgia ranks 7th in the SEC in total offense (420 YPG) and 5th in PPG (36.0). Their opponents rank 5th (Tennessee), 7th (Arkansas), and 8th (Auburn) in the conference in total defense.
A definite weakness Georgia could attack is Alabama’s run defense, which allows 150 YPG (Georgia averages 172 rushing YPG).
Can Georgia stop Alabama’s offense?
Stop? No. Control by keeping it off the field by dominating the time of possession? Maybe.
I will attempt to explain how good Alabama’s offense is in an easy to understand manner. For those critical of Alabama’s defense, their offense’s success plays a small part in that.
Since the start of 2018 (Tua’s first full year), Alabama has 45 TD of 30-yards or longer on plays from scrimmage. That’s an insane statistic. They score quickly and from anywhere on the field.
Over that same span (since 2018), they average two fewer offensive plays per game and six more defensive plays per game than they did from 2009-17. It’s not the main reason, but it is a small part of why Alabama’s defense is more vulnerable than earlier in Saban’s tenure.
Alabama Offense vs Defense
Average Plays Per Game
Offense Plays – SEC Games
Defensive Plays– SEC Games
Offense – Overall
Defense – Overall
Since 2018, the Crimson Tide totaled 500 yards or higher in 23 of their 31 games. They have scored 35 or more points in 15 consecutive games, tying the longest such streak in major-college football history (Oregon scored at least 35 points in 15 straight games from November 5, 2011, through November 17, 2012).
Can Stetson Bennett raise his game enough to achieve a result Jake Frohm nor Andy Murray (much more accomplished QB) failed to do?
The Junior QB is producing so far this season (229.7 Pass YPG, 5 TD, 0 INT), but playing at Alabama is a different level. If the running game takes some pressure off him, he will fare a lot better.
Tuesday night’s game between the Bills and Titans was the second Tuesday game in the last 70 years. As we finally say goodbye to Week Five, here are five interesting stats to review. (*NFL.com research).
Steelers Rookie WR Scores Four TD
Pittsburgh Steelers rookie WR Chase Claypool scored a rushing TD followed by three TD receptions (32, 5, and 35 yards) in a 38-29 win over the Eagles. Claypool’s 110 receiving yards were the fourth-most for a rookie scoring four TD in NFL history.
Most Receiving Yds, Rookies To Score 4 TD
Single Game, NFL History
Steelers: 4-0 for first time since 1979
Despite winning six Super Bowl titles, the Steelers registered four wins without a loss to start the season for only the fourth time in franchise history. In two of those seasons, they went on to win the Super Bowl.
Starting 4-0, Team History
Won Super Bowl
Kyler Murray Run & Throws Cards to Victory
In the Arizona Cardinals 30-10 win over the 0-5 New York Jets, Kyler Murray threw and ran for a TD for the fourth time this season. Murray joins Cam Newton in 2011 and Kordell Stewart in 1997 as the only players with five touchdowns rushing and throwing in the first five games of a season.
Five TD Rushing & Throwing
First Five Games, NFL History
Kyler Murray, ARI
Cam Newton, CAR
Kordell Stewart, PIT
Lamar Jackson Throws 50th TD
The Baltimore Ravens rebounded from their loss to the Chiefs last week, defeating the Bengals 27-3. Lamar Jackson owns the fewest interceptions of any QB at the time of his 50th TD pass.
Fewest INT Thrown
At Time of 50th TD Pass
Russell Wilson Leads Seattle to Victory Again
Seattle defeated Minnesota 27-26 on Sunday Night Football to start 5-0 for the first time in franchise history. Wilson culminated their win with the 30th game-winning drive of his career. Wilson has the most for any QB since joining the NFL in 2012.
As we move closer towards winter, this nightmare year is nearing its end. While the NHL, NBA, and MLB will complete their versions of COVID-19 related seasons, college football is next.
While we wait for the Big Ten and Pac-12 to join the football world, here are some SEC matchups to keep an eye on this weekend.
#4 Florida (2-0) at #21 Texas A&M, 12:00 PM EST
Florida: Kyle Trask: leads SEC with 10 TD passes (six belong to TE Kyle Pitts)
Florida: Lost 9 of last 13 games vs SEC West opponents.
Texas A&M: Lost seven straight against top-5 opponents (last win was 11/8/14 at Auburn)
Texas A&M: Won seven of last eight home games against SEC East opponents.
If the Aggies still think they have a chance at the SEC West title, they can’t lose again. Florida’s defense is awful through two games, allowing 471 yards per game. Look for A&M to throw everything they can at Florida, while trying to stop Trask and an explosive offense.
Series History: Teams are 1-1 against each other since Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012.
#3 Georgia (2-0) at Tennessee (2-0), 3:30 PM EST
Georgia: won three straight against Tennessee
Georgia: lead the SEC in fewest PPG allowed (8.0) and YPG allowed (190.0).
Tennessee: won eight straight since losing to Alabama last year (longest current win streak in the nation
Tennessee: Ty Chandler: leads SEC with 176 rushing yards.
Synopsis: If Tennessee wants to get back into the conversation amongst teams in the East, they need to defeat Georgia. They have everything to play for at home against a top-three opponent.
#2 Alabama (2-0) at Ole Miss (1-1), 7:30 PM EST
Alabama: Ole Miss (twice), Auburn, and LSU are only SEC teams Nick Saban has lost to more than once since coming to Tuscaloosa in 2007.
Alabama: Mac Jones: leads the nation in passer rating (222.1).
Ole Miss: lead SEC in total offense (536 YPG)
Ole Miss: QB Mike Corral leads the SEC and ranks second in the nation, completing 76.7 percent (46-60) of his pass attempts.
Synopsis: Lane Kiffin gets a chance to break Saban’s streak of winning 20 games without a loss against former assistants. However, Ole Miss cannot stop anyone, allowing over 600 yards per game. Rammer Jammer will continue to roll, adding to their impressive offensive totals against Ole Miss in their last three matchups.