Sports, Thrill of Victory

Around the SEC: Week 10 Edition

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones. PHOTO BY MATTHEW MAXEY

Here’s what you need to know in and around the Southeastern Conference heading into Week 10 football action.

BIGGEST STORIES

College football playoff poll is out

Tiger Stadium will be rocking when Alabama visits. PHOTO COURTESY LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY

Tiger Stadium will be rocking when Alabama visits. PHOTO COURTESY LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY

It was no surprise to see Alabama at the top of the College Football Playoff Poll, but lots of folks didn’t expect to see Texas A&M ahead of Washington (and perhaps Louisville) at No. 4. Other SEC teams in the mix: Auburn (9), Florida (11) and LSU (13). 

Hurd leaves Tennessee

Former five-star recruit Preston Williams already left Knoxville in mid-season, and now another former five-star, running back Jalen Hurd (a Hendersonville native) joins him.

Hurd’s stepfather Arthur Smotherman told The Ultimate SEC Show that Hurd, unhappy with Tennessee not holding true to its word that it would run an offense to better suit his talents, will try to find a better destination for him. 

Hear that podcast (of which I am a part) where Smotherman gave a 16-minute interview with the details

POWER RANKINGS

  1. Alabama (8-0, 5-0)
  2. Texas A&M (7-1, 4-1)
  3. Auburn (6-2, 4-1)
  4. LSU (5-2, 3-1)
  5. Florida (6-1, 4-1)
  6. Tennessee (5-3, 2-3)
  7. Arkansas (5-3, 1-3)
  8. Ole Miss (3-5, 1-4)
  9. Georgia (4-4, 2-4)
  10. Kentucky (5-3, 2-4)
  11. South Carolina (4-4, 2-4)
  12. Vanderbilt (4-4, 1-3)
  13. Mississippi St. (3-5, 1-3)
  14. Missouri (2-6, 0-4)

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  1. Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama
  2. Trevor Knight, QB, Texas A&M
  3. Chad Kelly, QB, Auburn
  4. Kamryn Pettway, RB, Auburn
  5. Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
  6. Sean White, QB, Auburn
  7. Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M
  8. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
  9. Ralph Webb, RB, Vanderbilt
  10. Rawleigh Williams III, RB, Arkansas

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  1. Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
  2. Derek Barnett, DL, Tennessee
  3. Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
  4. Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
  5. Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
  6. Arden Key, LB, LSU
  7. Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
  8. Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
  9. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
  10. Justin Evans, DB, Texas A&M / Ryan Anderson, LB, Alabama / Jamal Adams, S, LSU / Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn

THIS WEEK’S PICKS

All times Central and p.m., unless noted

Alabama at LSU (+8.5), 7, CBS

Total points scored to points given up for LSU in its three games since Ed Orgeron became coach: 125-38. That, of course, came against Missouri, Southern Miss and Ole Miss, and Alabama is in an entirely different universe. The biggest question is whether Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster and that awesome front seven can shut down LSU running back Leonard Fournette as it did last year, and furthermore, whether the Crimson Tide can get a defensive or special teams score, which it has done in each game. With or without that, I think freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts is good enough to win in a hostile environment, and, of course, it doesn’t hurt to be led by perhaps the greatest coach in college history in Nick Saban. Alabama 31, LSU 20

Auburn's defense presents a tough challenge for Vanderbilt. PHOTO COURTESY AUBURN UNIVERSITY

Auburn’s defense presents a tough challenge for Vanderbilt. PHOTO COURTESY AUBURN UNIVERSITY

Florida at Arkansas (+5.5), 2:30, CBS

This matchup tilts towards Florida, because Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen has sometimes been turnover-prone, and that’s not a good thing when you’re going up against a secondary that includes Jalen Tabor, Quincy Wilson and Marcus Maye. The Arkansas defense has also been awful much of the year, and has given up at least 517 yards in three of the last four games. But, the Razorbacks are also tough at home and have shown up big in some important games this year (TCU, Ole Miss), and Florida’s schedule, outside of Tennessee, has been pitiful. Just a gut feeling that coach Bret Bielema, after a bye week, has his team ready to go. Arkansas 24, Gators 21

Georgia at Kentucky (+2.5), 6:30, SEC Network

Georgia has not been good since looking fantastic in its opening-day win over North Carolina, but consider a couple of key stats here: Kentucky wants to run the ball, and a good front seven led by run-stuffer Trenton Thompson gives up only 3.2 yards per carry. Plus, these teams are on the opposite ends of the turnover spectrum: the Bulldogs are at plus-six, and UK, minus-nine. The Bulldogs are too talented to continue to underachieve this much… right? Georgia 24, Kentucky 20

Texas A&M at Mississippi St. (+13.5), 11 a.m., SEC Network

Here’s to underrated MSU quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, who has really only played in seven games (he played sparingly in the opening-day loss to South Alabama) has run for over 100 yards four times already. Three times, he’s registered at least 373 yards of total offense, including the 536 (and seven touchdowns) against Samford last week. Alas, the MSU defense has gone MIA lately, giving up 554 and 627 yards in the last two weeks. I suspect the Bulldogs play better on that side of the ball this week, but Trevor Knight, Traveon Williams will get their yards regardless and Myles Garrett should cause some trouble in the Bulldog backfield. Aggies 38, MSU 24

Vanderbilt at Auburn (-25.5), 11 a.m., ESPN

The Tigers and running back Kamryn Pettway are on a roll, and though VU has been decent against the run in the SEC, it hasn’t faced a team like this. The biggest problem for Vanderbilt is that it relies on creating positive numbers in turnover differential, and with Auburn having given it up just nine times, that’s unlikely. The Commodores need to start showing some potency in the passing game to keep up in a game like this, and tomorrow probably won’t be the day that starts. Auburn 38, Vanderbilt 7

Missouri  at South Carolina (-7), 3, SEC Network

South Carolina averages just 17.8 points per game, but, in quarterback Jake Bentley’s two starts, the Gamecocks scored 34 and 24 points in wins over Massachusetts and Tennessee. Meanwhile, the Missouri defense can’t stop anybody; point and yardage totals in the last four games: starting with Week 5: 42 and 634 (LSU), 40 and 523 (Florida), 45 and 584 (MTSU) and 35 and 582 (Kentucky). Coach Will Muschamp has his team playing quite well, while his counterpart, Barry Odom, does not. South Carolina 31, Missouri 21

Georgia Southern at Ole Miss (-27.5), 11 a.m., ESPNU

This isn’t a vintage Georgia Southern offense—GASO ranks 78th in scoring offense at 26.8 per game—and while it gets just 4.3 yards per carry, it does run for 239 yards per game, while Ole Miss gives up 237. In other words, the Eagles may be able to control a lot of clock and keep Chad Kelly and the Rebel offense off the field. That said, the Rebel offense strikes quickly and will put up points anyway, but Georgia Southern should hold the ball long enough to beat the number. Ole Miss 41, Georgia Southern 27

Tennessee Tech at Tennessee (NL), 3, SEC Network Alternate

Tech averages just 2.8 yards per rush, and Jeff Sagarin has the Vols as a 43-point favorite. Move along, folks, there’s nothing here to see. Vols 40, Tech 10