SEC Week Four: Can Georgia Stop The Tide From Rolling?

SEC Week Four: Can Georgia Stop The Tide From Rolling?

Week Four of SEC Football brings us the most anticipated matchup of the season. Georgia invades Tuscaloosa this Saturday. 

Even without the news today of Nick Saban testing positive for COVID-19, this game had everyone’s interest.

While not having the best football coach (college or pro) on the sideline will be a change, Alabama’s accountability system shouldn’t miss a beat. I’m certain knowing his greater access to critiquing their mistakes might help inspire his players.

#3 Georgia (3-0) at #2 Alabama (3-0) 8:00 PM EST

Strength vs. Strength

The highest-scoring offense (51.0 PPG) squares off against the nation’s second-ranked defense (236.0 YPG). Can Mac Jones and his elite group of offensive weapons achieve the same success against Azeez Ojulari, Monte Rice, and Eric Stokes? 

Azzez Ojulari was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week with his performance against Tennessee.

Ojulari, who plays the “Jack” position on Georgia’s defense (a combination of OLB and DE), helped key the Bulldogs second-half domination in their victory over #14 Tennessee on Saturday. Ojulari won SEC defensive player of the week, registering two sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. Georgia held the Vols to just 71 total yards in the second half.

Offense vs Defense
2020 Stats
Alabama OffenseGeorgia Defense
Yards PG560.3236.7
PPG51.0>>12.3
Rush YPG175.338.3
Pass YPG385198.3
Turnovers37
SEC Rank21
National Rank32
>>First in Nation

Alabama erupted for 723 yards of total offense in their win over the Rebels (the most since putting up 833 during a 77-6 win against Virginia Tech on October 27, 1973). Mac Jones leads the nation in passer rating (220.3) and yards per completion (13.3). Equally impressive is his 79.5 completion percentage while registering over 13 yards per completion.

Alabama’s offense has not missed a beat under Mac Jones.

There isn’t enough space to write about all of Alabama’s offensive weapons, so rather than deal with the endless amount of individuals (Najee Harris, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, John Metchie III), I’d rather focus on the offense as a whole.

Key Notes 

Alabama has won 27 straight games against SEC East opponents (their last loss came at South Carolina on October 9, 2010).

Overall, Alabama is 35-3 against SEC East opponents under Nick Saban (14-1 at home, 14-1 on the road, 7-1 on neutral fields) 

Since 2007 (Saban’s first year at Alabama), Alabama and Georgia own the two highest win percentages in SEC play.

SEC Standings Overall
Since 2007DivisionW-LWin Pct,
1AlabamaWest92-150.859
2GeorgiaEast76-310.710
3LSUWest73-340.688
4FloridaEast70-370.654

Alabama has won five straight against Georgia (One National Championship, two SEC Championship Games, and two regular-season games).

Nick Saban is 21-0 against former assistants, although he will not be on the sideline this Saturday against former assistant Kirby Smart (0-2 vs. Saban).

Najee Harris vaulted over Ole Miss for a career-high 206 rushing yards and five TD. He has scored a TD in 10 straight games.

Key Questions

Can Georgia finally put Alabama away if they hold a late lead?

In three of their last four meetings, Georgia failed to hold a second half lead. In the 2018 SEC Championship, Alabama closed the game on a 21-0 run. In the 2017 National Championship, the Bulldogs failed to hold a 20-7 second-half lead in a 26-20 loss in OT. In their 2012 regular-season matchup, Alabama outscored Georgia 22-7 after the Bulldogs opened up a 21-10 lead in third quarter.

Georgia Blown Leads
Second Half vs Alabama
Georgia LeadFinal Score
2018 SEC Championship28-14L, 35-28
2017 National Championship20-7L, 26-20 (OT)
2012 Regular Season Meeting21-10L, 32-28

Can Georgia score enough to compete with Alabama?

Georgia ranks 7th in the SEC in total offense (420 YPG) and 5th in PPG (36.0). Their opponents rank 5th (Tennessee), 7th (Arkansas), and 8th (Auburn) in the conference in total defense. 

A definite weakness Georgia could attack is Alabama’s run defense, which allows 150 YPG (Georgia averages 172 rushing YPG).

Can Georgia stop Alabama’s offense?

Stop? No. Control by keeping it off the field by dominating the time of possession? Maybe.

I will attempt to explain how good Alabama’s offense is in an easy to understand manner. For those critical of Alabama’s defense, their offense’s success plays a small part in that.

Since the start of 2018 (Tua’s first full year), Alabama has 45 TD of 30-yards or longer on plays from scrimmage. That’s an insane statistic. They score quickly and from anywhere on the field. 

Over that same span (since 2018), they average two fewer offensive plays per game and six more defensive plays per game than they did from 2009-17. It’s not the main reason, but it is a small part of why Alabama’s defense is more vulnerable than earlier in Saban’s tenure.

Alabama Offense vs Defense
Average Plays Per Game
Since 20182009-17
Offense Plays – SEC Games66.869.2
Defensive Plays – SEC Games69.163.7
Offense – Overall6668
Defense – Overall6862

Since 2018, the Crimson Tide totaled 500 yards or higher in 23 of their 31 games. They have scored 35 or more points in 15 consecutive games, tying the longest such streak in major-college football history (Oregon scored at least 35 points in 15 straight games from November 5, 2011, through November 17, 2012).

Can Stetson Bennett raise his game enough to achieve a result Jake Frohm nor Andy Murray (much more accomplished QB) failed to do?

The Junior QB is producing so far this season (229.7 Pass YPG, 5 TD, 0 INT), but playing at Alabama is a different level. If the running game takes some pressure off him, he will fare a lot better. 

SEC Week Three: Matchups to Watch This Week

SEC Week Three: Matchups to Watch This Week

As we move closer towards winter, this nightmare year is nearing its end. While the NHL, NBA, and MLB will complete their versions of COVID-19 related seasons, college football is next.

While we wait for the Big Ten and Pac-12 to join the football world, here are some SEC matchups to keep an eye on this weekend.

#4 Florida (2-0) at #21 Texas A&M, 12:00 PM EST

Florida: Kyle Trask: leads SEC with 10 TD passes (six belong to TE Kyle Pitts)

Florida: Lost 9 of last 13 games vs SEC West opponents.

Texas A&M: Lost seven straight against top-5 opponents (last win was 11/8/14 at Auburn)

Texas A&M: Won seven of last eight home games against SEC East opponents.

Synopsis:

If the Aggies still think they have a chance at the SEC West title, they can’t lose again. Florida’s defense is awful through two games, allowing 471 yards per game. Look for A&M to throw everything they can at Florida, while trying to stop Trask and an explosive offense. 

Series History: Teams are 1-1 against each other since Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012.                        

Freshman Eric Gray ran for 105 yards against Missouri

#3 Georgia (2-0) at Tennessee (2-0), 3:30 PM EST

Georgia: won three straight against Tennessee

Georgia: lead the SEC in fewest PPG allowed (8.0) and YPG allowed (190.0).

Tennessee: won eight straight since losing to Alabama last year (longest current win streak in the nation

Tennessee: Ty Chandler: leads SEC with 176 rushing yards.

Synopsis: If Tennessee wants to get back into the conversation amongst teams in the East, they need to defeat Georgia. They have everything to play for at home against a top-three opponent.

John Metchie III made a name for himself with with TD receptions of 78 and 63 yards against Texas A&M last Saturday.

#2 Alabama (2-0) at Ole Miss (1-1), 7:30 PM EST

Alabama: Ole Miss (twice), Auburn, and LSU are only SEC teams Nick Saban has lost to more than once since coming to Tuscaloosa in 2007.

Alabama: Mac Jones: leads the nation in passer rating (222.1).

Ole Miss: lead SEC in total offense (536 YPG)

Ole Miss: QB Mike Corral leads the SEC and ranks second in the nation, completing 76.7 percent (46-60) of his pass attempts.

Matt Corral leads the SEC in completion percentage for an explosive Ole Miss offense.


Synopsis: Lane Kiffin gets a chance to break Saban’s streak of winning 20 games without a loss against former assistants. However, Ole Miss cannot stop anyone, allowing over 600 yards per game. Rammer Jammer will continue to roll, adding to their impressive offensive totals against Ole Miss in their last three matchups.

Last Three Seasons
Alabama Offense vs Ole Miss
W-L3-0
PPG61
YPG568
TD-INT10-0

SEC Week Two: Quick Facts

SEC Week Two: Quick Facts

Here are some quick team facts for Saturday’s SEC Games.

South Carolina (0-1) at #3 Florida (1-0), 12 PM EST

– South Carolina: Since losing 12 straight at Florida from 1992-2008, the Gamecocks are 2-3 in their last five visits to Gainesville (lost last two).

– South Carolina: has not started 0-2 in SEC play in consecutive seasons since 1998-99.

– Florida: allowed 613 yards, but also totaled 642 yards on offense (leads SEC) last week. 

– Florida: QB Kyle Trask: 1,041 Passing Yards, 11 TD, 0 INT in the last three regular-season games.

Overall Series: Florida leads 28-9-3, 22-6 since South Carolina joined SEC in 1992 (won four of last five).

Kyle Trask threw for 200 yards and 3 TD in last season’s win over South Carolina in Columbia.

#13 Texas A&M (1-0) at #2 Alabama (1-0), 3:30 PM EST

-Texas A&M: Isaiah Spiller: ran for 117 yards on just eight carries (14.6 RPG) against Vandy last week (only RB to gain over 100 yards in Week One). 

-Texas A&M: Kellen Mond: 34 rushes, 188 yards, 2 TD in last two games against Alabama.

-Alabama: 33-3 at home vs SEC since 2011, but one of those losses came against Texas A&M in 2012.

-Alabama: Najee Harris: 109.4 Rush YPG, 15 TD in his last nine games (scored a TD in eight straight games – last team to hold him short of endzone was Texas A&M last year).

Series Note: Aggies: lost seven straight against Alabama since defeating them in their first SEC meeting in 2012 (allowed 43 PPG in those seven losses).

Najee Harris: Ran for a TD in each of his last eight games.

#7 Auburn (1-0) at #4 Georgia (1-0), 7:30 PM EST

-Auburn: Bo Nix: 218 pass attempts without an interception is the second-longest streak in the nation (Trevor Lawrence, CLEM – 239).

-Auburn: lost five straight against SEC East opponents (includes 2017 SEC Championship).

-Georgia: QB J.T. Daniels (transfer from USC) medically cleared to play Saturday

-Georgia: 8-1 in last nine home games against SEC West opponents.

Series Notes: Georgia won three straight and six of last seven meetings against Auburn. Won six straight at Sanford Stadium. From 1993-2001 Georgia was 0-5 vs Auburn at home. Since 2003 they are 7-1.

SEC Week One: East vs. West Matchups Key First Saturday

SEC Week One: East vs. West Matchups Key First Saturday

The SEC College Football season finally is among us. Due to COVID-19, the conference added two additional cross-divisional matchups to reach their 10-game SEC only schedule.

Since Nick Saban’s return to the SEC in 2007, no conference’s resume is as impressive as the SEC, producing nine National Championships. While the West owns eight of those nine, which division holds the advantage in regular season play?

SEC Best Records
Conference Play, Since 2007
DivisionW-LWin Pct.Division TitlesSEC ChampsNational Championships
AlabamaWest89-150.856765
GeorgiaEast73-310.702510
LSUWest72-320.692332
FloridaEast68-360.654411
Texas A&MWest34-300.531000
AuburnWest55-490.529321
South CarolinaEast52-520.5100
MissouriEast30-340.469200
Mississippi St.West46-580.442000
TennesseEast39-650.375100
Ole MissWest35-690.337000
ArkansasWest34-700.327000
KentuckyEast32-720.308000
VanderbiltEast28-760.269000

When Texas A&M and Missouri joined the conference in 2012, the SEC reduced cross-divisional matchups from three to two. Each division member faces their “common rival” every year, while the remaining opponent rotates. The only changes to that formula were Texas A&M, and Missouri switched from playing each other to South Carolina and Arkansas in 2014.

SEC Common Rival
WestEast
AlabamaTennesse
ArkansasMissouri
AuburnGeorgia
LSUFlorida
Ole MissVanderbilt
Mississippi StKentucky
Texas A&MSouth Carolina

Since 2012 the West owns the upper hand, winning 72 of the 110 (.625) regular-season matchups. The West dominance also applies to the SEC Championship, winning seven of eight over that same period. Georgia’s victory over Auburn in 2017 represents the only SEC Championship for the East.

SEC, East vs West
Head to Head, Since 2012
Regular SeasonWinsLossesWin Pct.
East42700.381
West70420.625
Conference ChampionshipWinsLossesWin Pct.
East1>>70.125
West710.875
>>Georgia beat Auburn in 2017

Here are some cross-divisional matchups to watch on Saturday (all times are EST).

#2 Alabama at Missouri, 7:00 PM EST

Alabama: won 26 straight against SEC East opponents – postseason included (last loss 10/9/2010 at South Carolina)

Alabama : at SEC Opponents Since 2011: at Auburn (2-3) at Remainder of SEC (31-1)

Missouri: Missing five players due to COVID-19

Missouri: 4-1 in last five against SEC East (only loss at Alabama in 2018)

All-time series: Alabama 4-2 (won four straight, including 2014 SEC Championship).

WR Jaylen Waddle is ready for a breakout season for the Tide.

#4 Georgia at Arkansas, 4 PM EST 

Georgia: USC transfer JT Daniels and redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis both scheduled to play at QB

Georgia: 11-5 vs. SEC West in regular-season play since 2012 (1-5 in postseason).

Arkansas: lost 19 straight SEC games (last win 10/28/17 at Ole Miss)

Arkansas: lost ten consecutive SEC home games (previous win 11/5/2016 vs. Florida).

All-time Series: Georgia leads 10-4

Highest Win Pct., Since 2012
SEC, Cross Divisional Matchups
Regular SeasonPostseasonOverallWin Pct.
Alabama16-06-022-0>>100
LSU13-32-015-30.882
Texas A&M12-40-012-40.75
Mississippi St.10-60-010-60.625
Georgia11-51-512-100.545
Missouri9-70-29-90.5
Auburn8-81-19-90.5
Ole Miss8-80-08-80.5
Florida7-90-27-110.388
South Caroliina5-110.3135-110.313
Vanderbilt5-110.3135-110.313
Arkansas4-120.254-120.25
Kentucky3-130.1883-130.188
Tennessee2-140.1252-140.125
>>Won 26 straight

#5 Florida at Ole Miss, Noon EST

Florida: Senior QB Kyle Trask: 3,103 passing yards in 2019 (second to Joe Burrow in SEC).

Florida: Scored 400+ points in consecutive seasons (first time since posting four straight 2006-09)

Ole Miss: Lane Kiffin’s return to SEC as head coach in his first year with Rebels (Kiffin was 7-6 with Tennessee in 2009).

Ole Miss: 251.3 Rushing YPG last season (2nd in SEC).

All-time Series: Florida leads 12-11-1

QB Kyle Trask hopes to lead Florida to the SEC East title.

 #23 Kentucky at #8 Auburn, Noon EST

Kentucky: QB Terry Wilson returns after missing the entire SEC schedule in 2019 (11 TD, 8 INT, 1,889 pass yds in 2018)

Kentucky: lost 11 straight at SEC West opponents (last win 2009 at Auburn)

Auburn: QB Bo Nix has not thrown an interception in 191 consecutive passes (team record)

Auburn: lost five straight vs. SEC East opponents (includes 2017 SEC Championship)

All-time Series: Auburn leads 26-6-1

Sophomore Bo Nix leads Auburn’s offense.

Vanderbilt at #10 Texas A&M, 7:30 PM EST

Vanderbilt: allowed 30+ points in eight of last 12 SEC road games.

Vanderbilt: 3-11 vs. SEC West opponents since 2012.

Texas A&M: Kellen Mond: 6.2 yards per play, 28 total TD in 2019 (second to Joe Burrow)

Texas A&M: 12-4 vs. East opponents since joining the SEC in 2012 (9-1 in last 10).

All-Time Series: Texas A&M leads 2-0

2020 SEC West Preview: Tide Will Roll Again

2020 SEC West Preview: Tide Will Roll Again

The more things change, the more they stay the same is the motto for another predictable SEC West season. When Horace Greeley uttered the words “Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country” in July of 1865, little did he know the reference would fit Alabama. This year due to COVID changes, the SEC features a 10-game conference only schedule.

Since the creation of the SEC Championship in 1992, Alabama (12), Auburn (7) and LSU (6) have won 25 of the 28 division titles. However, since Nick Saban came to Tuscaloosa in 2007, the SEC West is the standard for College Football, winning eight of the 13 National Championships.

Most SEC Championships
Head Coaches, Since 1992
Nick Saban>>LSU, Alabama8
Steve SpurrierFlorida5
Phillip FulmerTennessee3
Urban MeyerFlorida2
Les MilesLSU2
Mark RichtGeorgia2
>>Won 6 National Championships

The division now features a collection of elite coaches vying to grab a piece of that Championship puzzle. Ole Miss welcomes former Tennessee Head Coach Lane Kiffin. The Rebels last finished with a conference record above .500 in 2015 (6-2) and has just five total since 1992.

Kylin Hill hopes to keep new Mississippi State Head Coach Mike Leach in the running for a division title in 2020.

Mississippi State hired Mike Leach in the offseason, hoping to make the Bulldogs relevant. Leach’s squad pins their 2020 hopes on running back Kylin Hill (1,350 rushing yards and 10 TD in 2019) and Stanford graduate transfer K.J. Costello at QB.

Texas A&M finally finds itself in a position to challenge the West for the first time in Jimbo Fisher’s tenure. Kellen Mond leads the offense (28 total TDs in 2019) while the Aggies return ten starters on defense. Fischer’s gang travels to Tuscaloosa and hosts Florida after opening against Vanderbilt.

Kellen Mond leads an experienced and talented group on both side of the ball at Texas A&M.

LSU and Auburn find themselves rebuilding after both knocking off Alabama in 2019. The defending National Champions saw their chances to repeat dwindle when WR Ja’Marr Chase and NT Tyler Shelvin both opted out.

The big bully in the division is still Alabama. Since 2007 the Tide is 89-15 (.865) in conference play. LSU ranks second, a distant 17 wins behind (Georgia ranks second overall with 73 wins). The Tide’s defense will be markedly better than the unit that allowed 25.4 PPG and 368 YPG in conference play (both team highs under Saban). Linebackers Dylan Moses and Joshua McMillon return as does DE LaBryan Ray after missing 2019 with injuries.

QB Mac Jones played well replacing Tua Tagovailoa but must limit the mistakes which cost the Tide their fifth straight trip to the CFB Championship. Jones tore up Auburn’s defense for 45 points (22 more than any other opponent) but gave the Tigers 14 points with two pick-sixes. DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and Najee Harris provide the Tide much of the offensive firepower that averaged over 45 points and 500 YPG in each of the last two seasons.

Alabama Crimson Tide
SEC Games, Since 2011
W-L vs LSU & Auburn14-5
W-L vs Rest of SEC51-3
Home W-L33-4
Road W-L32-4
PPG Diff.22.3
YPG Diff.177.9

The Tide’s dominance in college football’s best conference is glaring. Since 2011, Alabama’s win margin (+22.3) and YPG differential (177.9) is staggering. Another moniker of their dominance is their road record. Subtracting their 2-3 record at Auburn, Saban’s boys are 30-1 away from Tuscaloosa since 2011 (five points if you can name their only loss).

2020 Final Standings Predictions
SEC West
W-L
1. Alabama10-0
2. Texas A&M9-1
3. LSU7-3
4. Ole Miss6-4
5. Auburn5-5
6. Mississippi St.5-5
7. Arkansas2-8

Alabama will regain their division title in 2020, while the Aggies record their best conference finish since joining the SEC.

Titanic Opportunity Awaits Tennesse’s CB Kristian Fulton

Titanic Opportunity Awaits Tennesse’s CB Kristian Fulton

The father of the theory of evolution, Charles Darwin once said

 “…Everyone takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness; and when this is done, one path towards error is closed, and the road to truth is often at the same time opened.”

Perhaps no one in college football faces evolving faster than SEC cornerbacks. While most discover that reality on the field, Kristian Fulton also learned the consequences of his actions in his personal life.

The Titans selected Fulton in the second round (61st overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft.

During mandatory drug testing following his Freshman season at LSU, Fulton worried his sample would show signs of marijuana. The NCAA suspended the 18-year old per their mandatory sentence of 730 days for tampering with a drug test by swapping urine samples. The irony? Fulton’s urine came back negative as the NCAA tested for performance-enhancing drugs only. 

LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva noticed Fulton’s desire to improve while accepting accountability. Fulton’s presence during training sessions, practice, team activities, class attendance, and GPA was exemplary. He began appreciating the advice of loved ones while avoiding those not out for his best interest. Whatever mental toughness previously possessed, grew in spades.

Alleva’s persistence appealing the length of the suspension (NCAA guidelines called for a one-year penalty for urine swapping) and vouching for his character, made a difference. Despite denying his initial appeal August 9, the NCAA reinstated him on August 23, a week before the start of the 2018 season. Fulton applied his approach during his final two seasons at LSU.

Fulton’s quick recovery and excellent press coverage should fit well in the Titans scheme.

The NFL drafting process is distinctly harsher. Despite evolving into the 12th best prospect (according to Pro Football Focus) and second-best CB in the 2020 draft, Fulton fell to the second round. While the Tennessee Titans reap the rewards, here are three reasons why Fulton will make the rest of the NFL suffer consequences for not evolving as he did.

1. Something to prove – the athletes that have the proverbial “chip on their shoulder” are always hungry. Fulton understands the torment of failing to prepare. As he embarks on his rookie season, he will reap the life lessons learned in college. 

2.  The scheme and numbers fit – Fulton possesses the size (6-0) and speed (4.46 40-yd dash) to succeed in the NFL, especially in Tennessee. Under Head Coach Mike Vrabel, the Titans feature a heavy-man based defensive scheme, in which Fulton should flourish. Fulton’s coverage grade and forced incompletion percentage finished among the best at his position. Fulton thrives in press coverage, as his 323 snaps his senior season ranked the third highest in college football.

Fulton (kneeling) hopes to continue a long-ling of smooth transitions LSU defensive backs made in the NFL.

3. Opportunity knocks – Due to the departure of Logan Ryan, LeShaun Sims, and Tramaine Brock, Fulton should start immediately. LSU’s history of cornerbacks (Patrick Peterson, Greedy Williams, Morris Claiborne, and Tre’Davious White) making a smooth transition into the NFL, also bodes well for the former Louisiana Defensive Player of the Year (2014 & 2015).

Fulton awaits the chance to prove his falseness to teams who overlooked him. While the NFL and their fans prepare for the strangest NFL season to date, the Titans Kristian Fulton knows tough times do not last, but tough people do.