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SEC Mid-season Report Card

By: John Dunn (TPA; KPA)

Alabama (1) – It's no surprise to anyone that Alabama is still the #1 team in college football. Throughout his tenure at Alabama, Coach Nick Saban has built a dynasty that has been sustained for a decade. Whether it’s recruiting, development, or just “X’s and O’s and Jimmys and Joes”, Alabama does everything at the highest of levels. Thus far in the 2018 season, Alabama has made it look exceptionally easy, including a 56-14 routing of LA-Lafayette this past weekend. I look for the Crimson Tide to make a return trip to the College Football National Title Game in 2018. Grade: A+

Arkansas (UR) – After last season, the Razorbacks of Arkansas decided to part ways with head coach, Brett Bielema, and hire SMU head coach, Chad Morris. During his short time at Arkansas, Morris has recruited at a higher level than most Arkansas fans are used to, however, Morris’ head coaching acumen has yet to come to the forefront. With Arkansas dropping games to lesser opposition such as North Texas, it seems to be a rebuilding year for the Razorbacks. Razorback Nation’s hope for improvement was renewed this past weekend, with a close game against quality opposition in the Texas A&M Aggies. Although the Razorbacks fell short (24-17), they showed determination and an unwillingness to go down without a fight. Grade: D+

Auburn (8) – Coming in at #8 in the country, the Auburn Tigers are asserting themselves as a legitimate threat in the West. Jarret Stidham has acclimated to the offense in record time, and has helped set the pace for the Auburn offense. Behind a decent offensive line, they have found success on the ground as much as through the air. However, unable to completely and easily put away an inferior Southern Mississippi team this past weekend (24-13), Auburn seems to be feeling some residual effects of a last second loss to LSU. If Auburn can maintain their aggressiveness in the trenches, and overcome their mental blockage from LSU, they will continue to contend for the SEC West. Grade: B

Florida (22) – Former Offensive Coordinator Dan Mullen was hired as head coach during the offseason. Coming off a horrendous season, the Gators look to recapture the glory of the Urban Meyer/Tim Tebow days, behind the offensive mind of Coach Mullen. Mullen is arguably one of the best quarterback developers in all of NCAA D-1 football. He has proven that he can take a young quarterback with a “gun-slinger” type arm, and find success early in the season. In Dan Mullen’s return trip to Starkville to face his former team as the opposing head coach for the first time this past weekend, Florida found a way to win against a scrappy Mississippi State team, 13-6. With the Gator’s lone loss coming by way of a better than advertised Kentucky team, they have shown that they are not as down as thought in the preseason. Grade: C+

Georgia (2) – Coming in at #2 in the country, the Bulldogs of Georgia have asserted themselves as a powerhouse in the SEC East, as well as, all of college football once again. Behind the arm of Jake Fromm and the legs of DeAndre Swift, Georgia is in prime position to maintain control of the SEC East, with the opportunity to make a run at a national title once again. Other than a lackluster three quarters against a pesky Tennessee team this past weekend, the Bulldogs have made it look exceptionally easy so far this season. If Georgia maintains the level of play they have been playing at for the past few weeks, expect to see them make a deep run in the CFP. Grade: A+

Kentucky (13) —Currently ranked #13 in the AP top-25 college football poll, the Wildcats have emerged as one of the main teams set to contend with SEC East powerhouse, Georgia, for control of the division. Behind the arm and legs of Terry Wilson, the Wildcats have proven they can play with anyone in the SEC. After a very decisive win against the Gamecocks on Saturday by a score of 24-10, Kentucky remains unbeaten. With Benny Snell at running back, and Josh Allen at linebacker, you can’t count the Wildcats out of any game this season. It looks to be a fun one for UK. Grade: B+

LSU (5) – Currently ranked #5, LSU has proven that they have found their rhythm. Behind the arm of transfer quarterback, Joe Burrow, the Tigers have shown that they are once again contenders in the SEC West. Upsetting then top-5 ranked Auburn on a last second field goal, LSU finally started getting the recognition they were deserving of. Coach Ogeron has definitively seemed to remove himself from the “hot seat” discussion that has spilled over from last season. If LSU maintains consistency throughout the next 6 weeks, look for them to be in a “New Year’s Six” bowl game, and finish as one of the top teams in the nation. After cruising to a 45-16 victory over the Rebels of Ole Miss on Saturday, LSU remains in position to content with Alabama for absolute control of the SEC West. Grade: A

Mississippi State (UR) – Coming in at #17 in the country in week 1, there was a lot of hype surrounding the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Bolstering one of the best defensive back groups in the entire nation, the Bulldogs were poised to have a monumental season. With a tough loss to the Florida Gators and former Bulldog head coach, Dan Mullen, on Saturday, the Bulldogs have fallen out of contention for the SEC West. First year head coach Jim Morehead looks to rely on veteran athletes retained from the Dan Mullen era, to help the team overcome adversity. Look for Mississippi State to regain their footing and make it to a bowl game. Grade: C+

Ole Miss (UR) – The Rebels of Ole Miss are still under an NCAA postseason ban, due to residual consequences from Hugh Freeze’s tenure as the Rebel head coach. Ole Miss has since seen a multitude of transfers to other schools, most notably, Shae Patterson (Michigan). There are still a lot of offensive weapons that remain in Oxford, MS. However, the post season ban seems to be a deterrent on the recruiting trail. Dropping a tough game to SEC West contender LSU on Saturday, the Rebels look to reorganize before the end of the season. Grade: D

Missouri (UR) – Missouri is one of the most enigmatic teams in all of college football. Behind the arm of veteran quarterback Drew Lock, the Tigers have found plenty of success through the air. A lot of people forget that Missouri has one of the best running backs in the SEC as well in, Damarea Crockett. If Missouri can find a rhythm under the direction of new Offensive Coordinator and former Tennessee head coach, Derek Dooley, and polish things on the defensive side of the ball, they will be a force to be reckoned with, especially in the SEC East. After a needed BYE week this past Saturday, Missouri hopes to be rested up prior to a match-up with the Gamecocks of South Carolina. Grade: C+

South Carolina (UR) – South Carolina was getting a lot of hype in the SEC East preseason rankings. Quarterback Jake Bentley is now a veteran quarterback, and South Carolina has a trio of homerun threats at wide receiver. The Gamecocks were picked to finish second in the East, but After a lackluster week two performance against Georgia, the hype train was halted. With a decisive loss against Kentucky on Saturday, South Carolina has been trending straight downward. Grade: C-

Tennessee (UR) – First year head coach Jeremy Pruitt has a very steep uphill climb ahead of him this season. After poor showings against lesser opposition, the Tennessee fan base is in disarray. Tennessee’s offensive line has appeared extremely inexperienced, their defensive backs have appeared lost, and there has been turmoil amongst players on the sidelines. After a massacre at the hands of SEC East rival, Florida, Tennessee has had no time to slow down. Facing three straight top-ten opponents, Tennessee looks to quickly build off of some hard-learned lessons from the past few weeks. With a solid showing against the nation’s number #2 ranked Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday, the Volunteers have shown flashes of improvement, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Grade: D+

Texas A&M (UR) – First year Aggie coach Jimbo Fisher is no stranger to the big stages of college football. Leading the Florida State Seminoles to the BCS National Championship in 2014, Fisher has since moved on to bigger and better things in the SEC. With talent littered throughout the roster in College Station, Fisher looks to build off of an already deep unit of skill position players and find success in the gauntlet of the SEC West. A poor showing against a fair Arkansas team on Saturday, shows that Fisher still has work to do in College Station. Grade: B-

Vanderbilt (UR) – Not known for being a strong football program, the Commodores of Vanderbilt have proven they have gotten much better. After a 5-point loss to 8th ranked Notre Dame, many believed that Vanderbilt was ready to contend for the SEC East, however, after struggling to put away an inferior Tennesse State team on Saturday, the Commodores look forward to another chance to prove themselves as contenders in the SEC. Grade: C+


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