No Gurley, no problem.
In an incredible twist of fate, the absence of Todd Gurley has helped this Georgia team find its identity as their past two victories have been nothing short of impressive. One cannot give enough credit to Mark Richt and his coaching staff for keeping his team focused in the midst of the ongoing Gurley investigation.
Everyone and their momma knew that Georgia would continue to focus on the ground game, but the real story has been the defense. People were beginning to write this unit off after they gave up 38 points to South Carolina on the road and 32 points to Tennessee at home, but they have come alive in recent weeks. Georgia now leads the nation in turnover margin at +13 thanks to a game-changing pass rush, an improving secondary, and a quarterback that takes care of the football. The last two teams to win the National Championship also led the nation in turnover margin, and they also featured Jeremy Pruitt on their defensive staff. Hmmm….
Speaking of the offense, good luck finding a better stable of running backs in the country than the four-headed monster in Georgia’s backfield. Granted, they’re not all playing at once due to injuries and Gurley’s suspension, but that’s what makes this group even more special; when one man goes down, another steps in and gets the job done. And by “gets the job done,” I mean they continue to put up videogame numbers as Georgia averages just under 266 yards on the ground per game. The ability of this group to seamlessly replace one another with no drop-off in production is truly remarkable, and they owe a large part of their success to the offensive line and the coaching staff for giving them opportunities to make plays. Also, how was Nick Chubb only in high school last year?
The SEC West still looks dominant.
Another Saturday in the SEC is in the books, and if at all possible, the best conference in college football continues to get better. Although Arkansas was the first SEC West team to lose to anyone outside of its division, Ole Miss and LSU beat their cross-division opponents by a combined score of 75-6. The questions Texas A&M had about their defense seem to be rearing their ugly heads at the wrong time, and while Kenny Hill has been solid this season, that conference schedule is absolutely brutal and his numbers are starting to reflect that.
Just as everyone was ready to call an end to the Alabama dynasty, they came out Saturday and kicked Texas A&M all the way back into the Big-12. This team looked completely different from the one that took the field last week against Arkansas, and they turned in the most impressive performance of the weekend. No disrespect to Florida State or Notre Dame, as both are very good teams, but Alabama reminded everyone why they have been the center of the college football universe in recent years. A motivated Nick Saban team is no doubt one of the nine circles of hell, and the crazy part is: they might not even make it to the SEC Championship.
Whether or not the state of Mississippi can establish itself as the premier state of football in the SEC West remains to be seen, but this year’s Egg Bowl is shaping up to be a battle of epic proportions. Ole Miss, however, does have a more challenging schedule as they travel to Death Valley this weekend, but they have the luxury of playing Auburn and Mississippi State at home. On the other hand, Mississippi State should remain undefeated until their showdown with Alabama four weeks from now. An undefeated Egg Bowl would be awesome, but college football, and the SEC in particular, has a tendency to defy everything you thought to be true and throw it right back in your face.
There’s an SEC East?
While the SEC West continues to bask in all the glory that is top 5 rankings, the SEC East continues to… well, disappoint. The Georgia Bulldogs have established themselves as the team to beat in the East, as well as a serious college football playoff contender, but everyone else is just okay. Now, it is true that Kentucky still controls their own destiny if they can manage to beat Georgia and win the remaining games on their schedule, but that seems less likely after their loss to LSU this past weekend.
One could say that Missouri bounced back nicely after their loss at home to Georgia last week, but they beat a Florida team that is really struggling. The Gators don’t rank inside the top 60 in any major FBS category, and their turnover problems continued once again against Missouri. Perhaps the stat that best portrays the Gators’ issues is that they only gave up 119 total yards to the Tigers, but they still lost the game 42-13 thanks to four combined defensive and special teams touchdowns from Gary Pinkel’s squad. If Will Muschamp cannot get a victory against the Dawgs in Jacksonville, then his job at Florida could be gone before the season is over.