Sports, Thrill of Victory

Around the SEC: Week 7 Edition

Alabama coach Nick Saban has his team at the top of the league... again. PHOTO COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA

Here are the biggest stories in and around the Southeastern Conference with roughly half the football season in the books.

Florida-LSU game re-scheduled

Florida’s home game with LSU wasn’t played last week due to Hurricane Matthew. After lots of back and forth the last two weeks, the two teams finally settled on re-scheduling other games and playing on Nov. 19, this time, in Baton Rouge. Read more about it here.

Jabari Zuniga and Florida will play at LSU on Nov. 19. PHOTO COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

Jabari Zuniga and Florida will play at LSU on Nov. 19. PHOTO COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

As a result, Florida will host LSU in Gainesville each of the next two years. 

Cohen to be MSU AD

Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin left that post for the same at Florida earlier this month. MSU appears to be replacing Stricklin with baseball coach John Cohen, who will stop coaching to be the Bulldogs’ full-time AD, according to this report.

MSU has not made the hire official. 

Injuries and dismissals

Tennessee dismissed defensive lineman Danny O’Brien, who had started all six games, this week. O’Brien had been injured and carted off the field in the Vols’ loss at Texas A&M.

LSU running back Leonard Fournette is still sidelined with an ankle injury. LSU coach Ed Orgeron said this week that he didn’t know when his star would return.

Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio’s knee is better, and he’ll return to start against Missouri this weekend. 

POWER RANKINGS

  1. Alabama (6-0, 3-0): Leads SEC in scoring (44.8).
  2. Texas A&M (6-0, 3-0): Leads SEC in total offense (532.8 yards per game). 
  3. Ole Miss (3-2, 1-1): QB Chad Kelly leads the SEC in total offense (344).
  4. Tennessee (5-1, 2-1): Have played the league’s toughest schedule, according to Jeff Sagarin.
  5. Auburn (4-2, 2-1): Tigers have No. 3 (Kamrn Pettway) and No. 7 (Kerryon Johnson) rushers in SEC.
  6. LSU (3-2, 2-1): Derrius Guice is averaging 8.7 yards per carry.
  7. Arkansas (4-2, 2-1): Razorbacks have league’s two-worst defensive games in terms of yards per play. 
  8. Florida (4-1, 2-1): Have played the league’s easiest schedule, according to Jeff Sagarin. 
  9. Georgia (4-2, 2-1): QB Jacob Eason throws for 29 yards in win at South Carolina. 
  10. Mississippi St. (2-3, 1-2): Bulldogs having issues running the football, outside QB Nick Fitzgerald.
  11. Missouri (2-3, 0-2): Have given up a league-low three sacks. 
  12. Kentucky (3-3, 2-2): LB Jordan Jones is second in the league in tackles. 
  13. South Carolina (2-4, 1-4): DL Darius English is second in the SEC in sacks.
  14. Vanderbilt (2-4, 0-3): ILB Zach Cunningham leads the league in tackles. 

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  1. Trevor Knight, QB, Texas A&M
  2. Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss
  3. Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama
  4. Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
  5. Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M
  6. Austin Allen, QB, Arkansas
  7. Josh Dobbs, QB, Tennessee
  8. Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M
  9. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
  10. Ralph Webb, RB, Vanderbilt

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  1. Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
  2. Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
  3. Arden Key, LB, LSU
  4. Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M
  5. Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
  6. Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
  7. Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
  8. Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
  9. Daeshon Hall, DE, Texas A&M
  10. Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Texas A&M QB Trevor Knight is my choice for Offensive Player of the Year at the season's halfway point. PHOTO COURTESY TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY

Texas A&M QB Trevor Knight is my choice for Offensive Player of the Year at the season’s halfway point. PHOTO COURTESY TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY

THIS WEEK’S PICKS

All times Central and p.m., unless noted

Point spreads courtesy of covers.com, 8:30 a.m. on Friday

Alabama at Tennessee (+12), 2:30, CBS

Alabama has scored a defensive or special teams touchdown in eight straight games, including two defensive scores in last weekend’s win over Arkansas. That’s trouble for the Vols, who have an SEC-worst 16 turnovers so far, and it could be worse: the Vols have fumbled 21 times and have only lost eight. Alabama 38, Tennessee 21

Ole Miss at Arkansas (+7.5), 6, ESPN

The Arkansas defense has been quite leaky at times; in fact, the Razorbacks’ 10.0 and 10.1 yards per play allowed against Texas A&M and Alabama are, respectively, the SEC’s two-worst single-game performances this season. Ole Miss averages a league-high 7.0 yards per play, so if quarterback Chad Kelly can just take care of the ball—that’s a problem sometimes—then the Rebels will prevail on the road. Rebels 41, Razorbacks 31

Missouri at Florida (-13.5), 3, SEC Network

The Missouri offense has assembled its gaudy numbers by playing weaker teams, but hasn’t been good against the better defenses on its schedule. UF has also done a lot of its offensive damage against better teams. This should be a defensive struggle. Florida 20, Missouri 13

Vanderbilt at Georgia (-13.5), 11, SEC Network

Vanderbilt should be able to hang in against Georgia if it can stop the Bulldog running game. Therein lies the problem; the Commodores have allowed 5.0 yards per carry, or more, three times already. My gut tells me Vandy keeps this close, and then I realize that when I follow my gut with this team in a positive sense, I get burned. Georgia 31, Vanderbilt 7

Mississippi St. at BYU (-7), Friday, 9:15, ESPN

The Bulldogs don’t run the ball particularly well from the tailback position, and the Cougars give up 8.7 yards per throw, so guess what MSU might try to do offensively? Meanwhile, the State defense hasn’t allowed over 6.0 yards a play this year. BYU just thrashed Michigan State, but this could be closer than people think. BYU 24, MSU 23 

Southern Miss at LSU (-25), 6:30, SEC Network

Southern Miss upset Kentucky in its season opener, but will encounter far more defensive resistance against a star-studded LSU unit than it did that night. But if Southern Miss gave up 332 rushing yards last week to Texas-San Antonio last week, what might Derrius Guice, Darrel Williams and the Tigers do this week? LSU 44, Southern Miss 24