Sports, Thrill of Victory

Around the SEC: Week 9 Edition

Alabama safety Eddie Jackson is done for the season due to injury. PHOTO COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA

Here’s what you need to know in and around the Southeastern Conference, heading into Week 9 of football action. 

BIGGEST STORIES

Jackson out for the season

Alabama’s victory over Texas A&M took a bitter turn when safety Eddie Jackson sustained a season-ending injury. Jackson has had a terrific year as a defender and a kick returner, returning both an interception and a punt for scores this season.

Missouri defense beset with injuries

The Tigers’ beleaguered defense got worse, when starting linebacker Michael Scherer and talented defensive lineman Terry Becker Jr. were lost with injuries in Missouri’s loss to MTSU. Both tore ACLs. Scherer, a senior, was Missouri’s leading tackler. 

Alabama safety Eddie Jackson is done for the season due to injury. PHOTO COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA

Alabama safety Eddie Jackson is done for the season due to injury. PHOTO COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA

Defense dominates

Wonder why your favorite player may not be in my Defensive Player of the Year rankings below? That’s because the individual talent in the league is just incredible. I looked at three major draft site projections recently, and an incredible 14 SEC players were projected as first-round picks in at least one of them.

That doesn’t even account for players that won’t enter the draft this year, a few of whom appear in my rankings.

Wow!

SEC has an NBA presence

The NBA season started this week, and 61 players with SEC playing experience dotted professional rosters. Kentucky led the way with 22 players, followed by Florida (10), LSU (six), Tennessee (five) and Vanderbilt (four). 

Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and South Carolina don’t have a player in the league at the moment.

POWER RANKINGS

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

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

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

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  1. Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
  2. Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
  3. Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
  4. Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
  5. Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
  6. Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
  7. Myles Garrett, DE, TAMU (Garrett has missed some time this year)
  8. Ryan Anderson, LB, Alabama
  9. Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida (Tabor was suspended for a game earlier in the season)
  10. Arden Key, LB, LSU/Justin Evans, S, TAMU/Jamal Adams, S, LSU

THIS WEEK’S PICKS

Vandy's Wade Baldwin is one of many former SEC players on NBA rosters. PHOTO COURTESY VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY

Vandy’s Wade Baldwin is one of many former SEC players on NBA rosters. PHOTO COURTESY VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY

Auburn at Ole Miss (+4), 6:15, SEC Network

The Ole Miss defense is giving up 5.2 yards per rush, and, of course, was torched by Leonard Fournette last week for over 300 yards from scrimmage. Auburn averages 5.5 yards per carry and 303 yards per game running the ball, and so there’s no secret as to what the Tigers want to do. The Rebels have also given up 28 points or more in five of their seven games, and at least 34 on four occasions. On the other side, Ole Miss will try to ride quarterback Chad Kelly to success in the passing game, where Auburn’s defense has been good (2.4 sacks per game, 6.0 yards per pass). If Kelly is turnover-prone, that’s a death-knell for the Rebels, but if he’s good, Ole Miss has the chance of an upset. But these teams seem to be going in opposite directions, and that’s a good thing for Auburn. Tigers 38, Rebels 28

Florida vs. Georgia (+7.5) in Jacksonville, 2:30, CBS

In the game formerly known as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,” Georgia fans probably feel as if they need a few drinks after being upset by Vanderbilt in the Bulldogs’ last game two weeks ago. Good thing that coach Kirby Smart had a few weeks off to get ready for a Gator defense that’s one of the country’s best. The Bulldogs’ offensive line has been awful in run blocking, which has been why Georgia has been unable to do enough with one of the country’s most talented stables of running backs. But, note this: Missouri was able to run the ball for 265 yards and 5.8 per carry against the Gators three weeks ago. There could be a sneaky upset in here, though I can’t quite go there. Florida 21, Georgia 17

Tennessee at South Carolina (+13.5). 6:15, ESPN2

Granted, Tennessee’s stat sheet was wrecked by that Alabama game, but the Vols are now minus-33 per week in yardage differential, and the Vols’ 17 turnovers is the second-worst total in the league. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks’ defense has been steady, giving up just 5.3 yards per play, and three times this year, Carolina has ended up plus-2 or better in turnover margin. The Vols had a week off to get healthier—to say that was needed is an understatement—and Carolina just can’t move the ball. This one should be close for a while, but the Vols pull away at the end. Tennessee 27, Carolina 13

Kentucky at Missouri (-4.5), 11 a.m., SEC Network

Both teams have looked respectable at times, and lousy at others. I have no idea what’s going to happen here; Missouri’s defense has been decimated by injury, but quarterback Drew Lock kills bad defenses and that’s what Kentucky has. Tigers 37, Wildcats 34

New Mexico St. at Texas A&M (-43.5), 6:30, ESPNU

In a matchup of Aggies, New Mexico State can score a few points (25.9 per game) but also give up a boatload (41.6). The only drama is whether A&M beats the spread. TAMU 57, NMSU 21

Samford at Mississippi St. (NL), 2:30, SEC Network

MSU comes off a crushing defeat at Kentucky, the third time it’s lost a game on the last play. Samford ranks 126h in Jeff Sagarin’s rankings (the closest FBS teams ahead and behind it are Nevada and Eastern Michigan, respectively) and projects as a 20-point underdog there. Kentucky threw shockingly well on MSU last weekend, and Samford averages 363 passing yards per game, so this could be closer than expected. MSU 34, Samford 24