Sports, Thrill of Victory

Around the SEC: Week 5 Edition

Quarterback Trevor Knight has led Texas A&M to a 4-0 start. PHOTO COURTESY TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY

The Southeastern Conference’s football season is a month in, and lots of interesting things are happening.

Here’s a wrap of what’s just happened, and what’s to come.

Ed Orgeron replaces Les Miles at LSU. PHOTO COURTESY LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY

Ed Orgeron replaces Les Miles at LSU. PHOTO COURTESY LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY

BIGGEST STORIES

No more Les

LSU coach Les Miles is no longer on the hot seat. On Sunday, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva fired the SEC icon, who’d been the Tigers’ coach since 2005. In that time, Miles went 114-34 and 62-28 in the league, but had slipped recently. Since the start of 2014, the Tigers were 19-10 and 10-8 in the SEC, and a road loss to Auburn on Saturday was evidently the last straw.

LSU now turns to interim coach Ed Orgeron, who went 6-2 (with a 6-1 Pac-12 mark) in a similar spot at USC in 2013. Oregon’s work in the SEC as Ole Miss’s head coach between 2005-07 was less than exemplary, however: the Rebels were 10-25 and just 3-21 in the SEC.

Orgeron said on Tuesday’s SEC teleconference that the Tigers can’t make wholesale changes to how they do things at the moment, but he’d like to throw the ball more than LSU has this year. LSU’s 99 pass attempts are the second-fewest in the league, and its 147.8 passing yards per contest are a league low.

Barnett leaving Alabama?

Redshirt freshman Blake Barnett was the backup to Jalen Hurts, but no longer. The former five-star recruit left the program on Wednesday after going 11-for-19 for 219 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. He’ll likely transfer to a junior college and back to a four-year school, and be eligible for at least some of the 2017 season (and perhaps all of it). 

That said, coach Nick Saban couldn’t confirm Barnett’s leaving as of Thursday morning.

If Barnett indeed leaves, redshirt Cooper Bateman would be the backup. 

Chubb, Fournette hurt

Scott Stricklin is the new AD at Florida. PHOTO COURTESY MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY

Scott Stricklin is the new AD at Florida. PHOTO COURTESY MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY

Georgia’s Nick Chubb and LSU’s Leonard Fournette, probably the league’s two most gifted running backs, are both hurt.

Fournette’s issue is the same left ankle that’s bugged him for weeks, and LSU calls him “a game time decision.” 

Chubb hurt an ankle in a blowout loss at Ole Miss, wasn’t seen practicing this week and is questionable for the Tennessee game. 

Stricklin leaves Mississippi State for Florida

MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin is leaving his alma mater to fill the vacancy left by the retiring Jeremy Foley. Stricklin is a good fundraiser and the Bulldog programs had high levels of success during his tenure in Starkville. 

POWER RANKINGS

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

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  1. Trevor Knight, QB, Texas A&M
  2. Austin Allen, QB, Arkansas
  3. Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M
  4. Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss
  5. Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  1. Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
  2. Justin Evans, DB, TAMU
  3. Arden Key, DE, LSU
  4. Myles Garrett, DE, TAMU
  5. Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Quarterback Trevor Knight has led Texas A&M to a 4-0 start. PHOTO COURTESY TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY

Quarterback Trevor Knight has led Texas A&M to a 4-0 start. PHOTO COURTESY TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY

THIS WEEK’S PICKS 

All times Central, p.m. unless noted

All lines according to covers.com as of 2 p.m. Thursday

Season record: 32-12 overall, 12-26 vs. the spread

Tennessee at Georgia (+3), 2:30, CBS

One of the most befuddling things in the league this year is the way that Georgia can’t seem to move the ball well or score; UGA averages 5.4 yards per play, and only 4.4 and 4.9, respectively, the last two weeks and worst, star running back Nick Chubb might not play (or may play at less than 100 percent).  Meanwhile, Tennessee comes off an enormous win over Florida and at the moment looks like the better team, but could there be a let-down? Just a hunch, and nothing more, Georgia plays better but still can’t get over the hump.  Tennessee 31, Georgia 27

Missouri at LSU (+13), 6:30, SEC Network

Missouri’s defense is coming on. LSU can’t throw the ball and Missouri is getting increasingly better at stopping the run, though much of that has to do with its schedule. LSU, in spite of its talent in the secondary, has also had trouble stopping the pass, and Missouri’s Drew Lock is really going to present a challenge. It sounds like LSU’s on upset alert, and that may be so, but I’ll take the home team (narrowly) because it rarely loses in Tiger Stadium at night. LSU 24, Missouri 23

Texas A&M at South Carolina (+17.5), 3, SEC Network

Carolina has played a little better than its talent and experience would suggest, but the Aggies are explosive in all phases of offense and defend the rush really well. This one’s a mismatch. Aggies 37, Carolina 10

Florida at Vanderbilt (+10), 11 a.m., SEC Network

Who can figure out either team, after UF’s Jekyll-and-Hyde act in Knoxville, and Vanderbilt’s disappearing defense, coupled with an offense that’s come up surprisingly big every other week. Florida matches up well with Vanderbilt; wide receiver Antonio Callaway is an elite deep threat and its defensive backfield is, too. The question is whether the Gators have recovered from last week; this prediction is guessing that they will quite well. Gators 31, Vanderbilt 13

Memphis at Ole Miss (-14.5), 6, ESPNU or ESPN2 or SEC Network Alternate

Former Tennessee quarterback Riley Ferguson has helped lead UM to a 3-0 start—that included a 77-3 blitzing of Bowling Green last week—and of course, the Tigers pulled a huge upset last season. A big problem for Ole Miss is the fact that Memphis forces a lot of turnovers, and quarterback Chad Kelly has been known to give a few away. The Rebels have been known to no-show a time or two a season and this could be the day. Memphis 31, Ole Miss 30

Kentucky at Alabama (+35), 6, SEC Network

The Wildcats showed a little life last week with a home win over South Carolina, and Boom Williams gives the team an explosive dimension in the running game. On the other hand, the defense has given up over 40 points three times already, which isn’t good when you play Alabama on the road. Alabama 51, Kentucky 14

Louisiana-Monroe at Auburn (-32.5), 2:30, SEC Network Alternate 

ULM gives up 5.3 yards per rush, and that’s what Auburn wants to do. Auburn 40, ULM 10

Alcorn State at Arkansas (NL), 11 a.m., SEC Network Alternate

There’s no line on this game, but Jeff Sagarin has the Razorbacks as 56-point favorites. Arkansas 55, Alcorn State 7