With only two weeks to go in the college football season, things are starting to get interesting in the SEC landscape. Week 11 certainly shook up the SEC, impacting the situation in the West as well as several teams trying to get to bowl contention. This week, I divide the Southeastern conference by the Elite, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Yes, the Tide had to survive on the road against Mississippi State on Saturday, and their injuries are starting to pile up and it shows. A lot of people, including myself, thought this might be Nick Saban’s best team in Tuscaloosa just a few weeks ago. Some of those opinions have changed, and Alabama certainly does not look as invincible as they did earlier in the season, but is still undefeated at 10-0 (7-0 SEC).
That Auburn performance on Saturday could have beaten anyone in the country. They dominated Georgia 40-17, holding the Bulldogs dominant rush attack to just 46 yards. Jarrett Stidham was efficient, and Kerryon Johnson continued to make his case for being the best running back in the SEC. The Iron Bowl in two weeks is going to be fun.
Despite being completely outclassed on Saturday, this team will have every opportunity to get into the college football playoff. They already have the SEC East won, and just need to take care of business against Kentucky and Georgia Tech to finish out the regular season and prepare for Alabama or Auburn in the SEC championship game.
The Bulldogs came up short Saturday, but played an inspiring game, nearly taking down an undefeated Alabama squad. Dan Mullen’s name is going to continue to come up for the head coaching vacancies at Florida and Tennessee, but his team will need to tune out any distractions as they prepare to take on Arkansas, going into Week 12 at 7-3 (3-3 SEC).
LSU continued their turnaround after the miserable loss to Troy, beating Arkansas 33-10. The Tigers have only lost one game, to Alabama, since the debacle on homecoming. They head into Knoxville this week also at 7-3 (4-2 SEC), and with plenty of momentum.
Will Muschamp deserves credit for the job he has done at South Carolina in his second season, currently with a 7-3 (5-3 SEC) record. The Gamecocks took care of Florida, 28-20, despite Jake Bentley throwing three interceptions. They have a tune-up against Wofford on Saturday before trying to ruin hated rival Clemson’s playoff hopes in Week 13.
As strange as it feels to type this, Kentucky has looked good this season, at least by SEC East standards. After a bad loss to Ole Miss two weeks ago, the Cats took care of business on the road against Vandy, taking it 44-21, and earning Mark Stoops an extra year on his contract for a seventh win.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops just earned an automatic 1-year contract extension for winning a 7th regular season game of the season
— SEC Mike (@MichaelWBratton) November 12, 2017
The Wildcats are now 7-3 (4-3 SEC), but go up against an angry Georgia team on the road this week.
Drew Lock is playing at a high level and the much-maligned Tigers defense is playing with confidence, as Mizzou is on a 4-game winning streak. However, it has come against bad Idaho and UConn teams, as well as Florida and Tennessee, who are in murky waters right now as they each look for a new head coach. The streak could go to five this week against Vandy, and maybe even six in two weeks against Arkansas, but right now the Tigers are sitting at 5-5 (2-4 SEC), and are fighting for a bowl game.
The Aggies took care of New Mexico, 55-14, but are at 6-4 (3-3 SEC). They head to Oxford this week for a winnable matchup, but I would expect Kevin Sumlin to be unemployed at the end of this season.
The Rebels are another SEC team that took care of business against a college football minnow on Saturday, beating Louisiana Lafayette 55-20. Backup quarterback Jordan Ta’amu had a breakout game with 418 yards and three touchdowns, but the Rebels will struggle for that sixth win with games against Texas A&M and Mississippi State coming up.
The season started with plenty of promise for Derek Mason, beginning 3-0, but the Commodores have only won one game since, and sit at 4-6 (0-6 SEC). Mason’s defense has also allowed 46 points per game in conference play. They go up against a hot Missouri team at home this week.
I’ll just leave this here.
Tennessee is likely at the bottom of most people’s SEC power rankings right now, but Vol fans rejoiced Sunday with the announcement of Butch Jones’ firing. Now can the team rally behind interim Brady Hoke against LSU this weekend?