SEC Report Card: Week 8 Grades
Alabama, LSU, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi State continued their strong seasons, but South Carolina and Texas A&M took hits as the top teams continue to distance themselves.
The East is improved this year, but it’s top heavy, with Florida (7-0), Georgia (6-1) and South Carolina (6-2) combining for a 19-3 mark, 14-3 in the SEC. Vanderbilt, Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky are a combined 10-19, 2-16 in the conference.
Here is this week’s report card:
Alabama: Another week, another strong performance. Nothing fazes the top-ranked Crimson Tide, who had strong games from quarterback AJ McCarron and freshmen T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper to blast Tennessee and gear up for Saturday’s game against Mississippi State, which is also undefeated and No. 13 in the AP poll. Grade: A-
Auburn: As good as Alabama looked, Auburn was at the opposite end of the spectrum in a loss to Vanderbilt. The Tigers had only 212 yards of offense and is off to its worst start since 1952, falling to 1-6 and 0-5 in the SEC, just two years after winning the national championship. Grade D-
Florida: The Gators had all the right moves in their 44-11 romp over South Carolina, even though they managed 183 yards of offense. They took advantage of their scoring opportunities and the defense shut down the Gamecocks. Florida (7-0) is No. 2 in the BCS heading into this week’s annual showdown against Georgia (6-1). Grade A
Georgia: The bye week didn’t help the Bulldogs repair their defensive deficiencies. They allowed 206 yards rushing to Kentucky and needed Aaron Murray’s career-high 427 yards passing to hold off the Wildcats. The Bulldogs can still win the SEC East, but must find a way to beat Florida on Saturday. Grade C
Kentucky: The Wildcats were 27-point underdogs, but nearly pulled off an upset of Georgia behind running backs Jonathan George and Raymond Sanders, a native Georgian. They didn’t have answers for Georgia’s passing attack, though, and lost their sixth consecutive game to fall to 1-7 and 0-5 in the SEC. Grade B-
LSU: Folks wondered what would happen when Texas A&M’s offense met LSU’s defense. Well, defense prevailed. The Tigers’ top-notch defenders corralled A&M QB Johnny Manziel and LSU’s offense turned turnovers into enough points to rally for the victory. Grade B
Mississippi State: There were no letdowns or looking ahead. The Bulldogs play No. 1 Alabama this week, but didn’t have any problems with Middle Tennessee. Quarterback Tyler Russell added to his strong season (15 TDs, one interception) with three scoring passes and no picks, and the defense came through with one of its best performances. Grade B+
South Carolina: The Gamecocks had their worst showing of the season with four turnovers, no running game and no ability to stop Florida’s short drives. They’ve lost two straight games, but can salvage their season with three consecutive winnable home games before facing Clemson on Nov. 24. Grade F
Tennessee: There were no answers for the Volunteers against Alabama. They have lost 11 of their past 12 SEC games and are 0-14 against Top 25 teams since Derek Dooley was hired in 2010. “We got whipped by a great football team in just about every phase,” Dooley said. Tennessee (3-4, 0-4) has lost three straight and four of five going into Saturday’s game at South Carolina. Grade D-
Texas A&M: No lead is safe when the Aggies are charged to protect it. Their loss to LSU was their seventh loss in two seasons after holding a 10-point lead, the most in the FBS. Texas A&M’s offensive problems against LSU don’t bode well for upcoming games against Mississippi State (Nov. 3) and Alabama (Nov. 10). Grade C-
Vanderbilt: A record-setting game from running back Zac Stacy, who became the program’s all-time leading rusher, and a strong performance from its defense added up to help Vanderbilt defeat Auburn. The Commodores (3-4, 2-3) and put themselves in position to finish the season strong, but they need three more victories to become bowl eligible. Grade B+