September came and went like a freight train, like it always does in college football, with all those forgettable non-conference tilts. And here we are already at Week 7, the mid-October tipping point that means it’s midseason and it’s time to assess each SEC team’s midterm grade of sorts.

Is your team riding in the fast lane? Is it collapsing under the weight of its own pressure or faults and ready to pull over? Or is it merely doing sort of what it’s supposed to have done, traveling in that middle lane?

Let’s take a look at all 14 SEC teams and see where they stand with one half of the season in the rearview mirror and one half still on fall’s horizon:


The defending national champions and mighty flag bearer for the SEC over the past decade are right back in position to win a fifth crown in eight years. Halfway home to a perfect regular season, the Crimson Tide have pushed aside Ole Miss (after two straight early losses to the Rebels) and Arkansas on the road but find themselves right in the middle of a gauntlet, with Tennessee on the road this week, followed by Texas A&M at home and LSU on the road.

What makes this Tide run more impressive is that a freshman is leading it with Jalen Hurts grabbing control of the quarterback position early in the season and running with it, literally. Bama has now won a national-best 18 in a row since the Ole Miss loss last season. And, on cue, perfectionist Nick Saban said: “We’re certainly not where we want to be, not in all facets of the game.” He’s right, of course, which is more proof that his surging Tide is right on schedule. Again.

Current spot: Fast lane.


The Razorbacks and Bret Bielema had their moment this fall in Week 2. That double-overtime victory on the road against a TCU team that was ranked 15th at the time seemed to signal these Hogs were ready to advance the program toward real relevance. But a deeper look that night in Fort Worth told you that Arkansas couldn’t stop anybody, and that fear was realized twice more in losses at Texas A&M and last week against Alabama. The Hogs have allowed a whopping 132 points in their three showdown games. And, as it turns out, TCU hasn’t turned out to be so great.

Now, can Arkansas salvage its season and go to a solid bowl game? Of course. But it’s got to start now. The next four weeks are: Ole Miss at home, Auburn on the road, and Florida and LSU at home. If Bielema’s team wants to think of this season as a success and wants to think of its program as moving in the right direction, it’s got to start beating some of the SEC’s elite to become one of the SEC’s elite. To do that, it’s got to start playing a little defense, and a running game wouldn’t hurt.

Current spot: Middle lane.


The Tigers have played their way into the Associated Press Top 25, checking in at No. 23 as they cruise into a bye week on a three-game winning streak capped by last week’s road blowout win over Mississippi State. If Auburn had found its offense earlier in the season when it struggled to score in tight home losses to Clemson and Texas A&M, the Tigers might be closer to the top 10 by now. Since then, Sean White has run the offense smoothly and error-free, Kamryn Pettway has become a beast and the Tigers might yet be a factor in the SEC West.

Current spot: Middle lane.


The Gators have had one weird season so far. They saw a big lead evaporate in Knoxville. They saw their offense nearly give one away in Nashville. And they saw Hurricane Matthew take a home game away from them against LSU as the showdown was rescheduled for Nov. 19 in Baton Rouge. Through all of that, the Gators, rested and ready to get back to work this week against Missouri, are right in position to still make a run at the SEC East title, though playing that game at LSU will make things more difficult now.

The key for UF: Luke Del Rio is on his way back from injury, and if the Gators can put up points for that defense down the stretch, they will remain right there with Tennessee, waiting for the Vols to stumble somewhere (like maybe Saturday). Patience can be a virtue here, and the Gators can still see the path to Atlanta.

Current spot: Fast lane.


The fate of Georgia’s SEC East title hopes will likely point to one play. The Bulldogs might yet play their way out of the three-way battle with Florida and Tennessee, but the Hail Mary loss to the Vols, at home, is what’s keeping Georgia out of first place. And it was like two losses since Tennessee has the head-to-head tiebreaker now.

It could be worse though: The Bulldogs could have lost that Missouri game and not had the Jacob Eason miracle, and the Florida showdown is likely the only game left on the schedule that Georgia won’t be favored in. Nick Chubb is healthy (for now) and seems primed for a big second half, too. Hope in Athens remains.

Current spot: Middle lane.


The Wildcats have always had their eyes on that precious six-win plateau. So halfway through, they sit at 3-3, a nice accomplishment after an 0-2 start, and there are enough winnable games left on the schedule to get to six victories. But next week is the key to everything as Mississippi State visits. This will be Kentucky’s season “fork in the road.” A home loss to the Bulldogs and the path to six wins is murky at best.

Current spot: Middle lane.


Like Florida, LSU’s season was interrupted by Hurricane Matthew. And also like Florida, LSU is still very much in the race for its division crown despite the season-opening loss to Wisconsin and the 5-point loss to Auburn that spelled the end for Les Miles.

The Tigers still have Alabama and Texas A&M, the teams ahead of them in the standings, on the schedule, and they can surely outrun Auburn if they keep winning. LSU also now has that extra home game with the Gators coming to Baton Rouge. It has the healthy infusion Ed Orgeron has given the Tigers. But what it doesn’t have is a healthy Leonard Fournette, and running the table without him is hard to fathom.

Current spot: Middle lane.

Mississippi State

As expected, life hasn’t been easy without Dak Prescott, and it’s not likely to get easier. The Bulldogs have two wins over teams (South Carolina, UMass) with a combined record of 3-9. The only opponent they’ll likely be favored against the rest of the way is Samford. And their last four foes are: Texas A&M, Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss. Good luck with that.

Current spot: Slow lane.


Oh how the Tigers’ season (and record) would look different had that Georgia game not gotten away at the end. Missouri would be 3-2, not 2-3. Still, there are enough winnable games left for the Tigers to become bowl-eligible — four, to be exact, and all in a row. The question is if the inconsistent, severely flawed Tigers are capable of winning four in a row, or if not, can they be good enough to steal one against an upper-echelon SEC team?

Current spot: Middle lane.

Ole Miss

This is a tricky one. The Rebels, despite their two losses, are ranked 12th, which speaks of their talent and upside. If the bye week didn’t break Chad Kelly’s rhythm, then look out. Usually, a two-loss team in mid-October doesn’t still hold big dreams, but the Rebels are explosive enough for a second-half run at a major bowl game. They also have everybody ahead of them in the SEC West still on the schedule, except for Alabama. We’ll know about them right away with Arkansas, LSU and Auburn all in a row starting Saturday.

Current spot: Fast lane.

South Carolina

The Gamecocks are resting this week with a 2-4 record, having beaten Vanderbilt by 3 and a 2-4 East Carolina team. Their defense keeps them in games, but you can’t win much when your season-high in points is 20. Right now, bowl-eligibility seems very unlikely. Will Muschamp knew this rebuild would take a while.

Current spot: Slow lane.


The cardiac Vols have had their frantic fans in the fast lane since the first night of September and that tap dance of an overtime win over Appalachian State. There was an escape act seemingly every week since then before Tennessee finally crashed and burned last week in College Station.

Now comes a season’s rare moment of truth in the middle of October: a visit from Alabama with nothing but winnable games to follow. This would be the closest thing to an SEC East clincher on Oct. 15 that you would ever encounter, but that’s how front-loaded this schedule is for the Vols. The good news? Tennessee is finally back home on Saturday. The problem? The opponent is Alabama.

Current spot: Fast lane.

Texas A&M

The Aggies are off to their first 6-0 start since 1994 and have ascended to the No. 6 spot in the AP Poll. The magic began with an overtime win over UCLA and continued with last week’s double-overtime escape against Tennessee, which set up the Aggies for next week’s showdown at Alabama.

Texas A&M has shown it can win with defense and by outscoring teams, which gives it a puncher’s chance to actually win in Tuscaloosa. The Aggies also get to gameplan — and rest — this week while the Tide has to travel to Knoxville, and no matter what the result of that game is, Texas A&M won’t be expected to win at Alabama anyway. The Aggies and red-hot Trevor Knight are in a very good place right now.

Current spot: Fast lane.


Vandy’s defense is no joke when it comes to play. Just ask Florida, which barely survived in Nashville a few weeks ago. But the offense has put pressure on the defense to win games every time against Power 5 teams, and the Commodores just aren’t talented enough to withstand that. This looks like a 3-9 season in Nashville, 4-8 at best.

Current spot: Slow lane.