SEC's best passing offense: Ole Miss, Missouri or Texas A&M?
Who deserves the title as best passing offense in the SEC? There’s certainly a case to be made for Ole Miss, Missouri and Texas A&M, who can throw it all over the yard this season.
Atop the SEC in passing offense sits Missouri. The Tigers have thrown for more than 391 yards per game and are second in the league in scoring with 44.5 points per game.
Number don’t lie, but perspective doesn’t either and here is some of that. While the Tigers have done extensive damage to West Virginia, Eastern Michigan, Georgia and Delaware State, Ole Miss has been through a September schedule of Florida State, Wofford, Alabama and Georgia.
Through that, the Rebels are second in the SEC in passing with 326.5 yards per game. Their 40 points per contest ranks fourth behind Alabama, Missouri and Texas A&M.
Meanwhile, A&M is third in passing, a distant third with 276.5 passing yards per game and have done it against UCLA, Prairie View A&M, Auburn and Arkansas.
Speaking in terms of strength of schedule, Ole Miss is No. 5. That’s two spots ahead of Alabama, seven ahead of A&M and 33 spots ahead of Missouri.
Missouri (35) and Ole Miss (34) are first and second in the SEC in plays of 15 yards or more. In plays of 25 yards or better, Ole Miss has 17 and Missouri has 16.
To further compare the damage, Missouri’s toughest opponent in terms of passing defense has been Georgia, which ranks No. 78 in the NCAA. Delaware State is a MEAC school. Excluding Wofford, Ole Miss has faced two opponents who rank higher in Alabama at No. 45 and Florida State at No. 63 to go with Georgia.
Texas A&M actually has a slight edge with three of its first four ranking between No. 38 and No. 61 in pass defense nationally aside from Prairie View A&M. But the Aggies are also 50 yards back of Ole Miss in passing yards per game.
In the SEC receiver rankings, Ole Miss and Missouri each have six players in the top 50. Texas A&M has four. Missouri’s J’Mon Moore (26 catches, 434 receiving yards, 6 TDs) and Ole Miss TE Evan Engram (26 catches, 397 receiving yards, 3 TDs) lead the SEC in receiving.
The stats speak highly of all three teams. Drew Lock and Chad Kelly are averaging better than nine yards per attempt. Lock has completed 59 percent of his 162 passes for 1,508 yards, 14 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Kelly is breaking Ole Miss records by the game, completing 65 percent of his 130 passes for 1,235 yards, 12 touchdowns and 3 picks. Knight is behind them with 1,055 yards on 75-of-141, 7 touchdowns and 2 picks.
The Aggies’ receivers are a bit thinner than they are at Missouri and Ole Miss. The Rebels and Tigers each have six catchers with at least 100 yards. A&M has three, albeit three good ones in Josh Reynolds, Christian Kirk and Ricky Seals-Jones.
Nine Rebels have caught touchdown passes. Eight Tigers have scored.
The length at Missouri and Ole Miss stands out. Moore and Emanuel Hall are both 6-foot-3. Chris Black and Dimetrios Mason are 6-foot. The four make up the Tigers’ top four in catches. That doesn’t include Johnathon Johnson and Ray Wingo, both over 100 yards.
Ole Miss’ top four in catches, Engram (6-foot-3), Damore’ea Stringfellow (6-foot-2), Van Jefferson (6-foot-2) and A.J. Brown (6-foot-1) have developed a reputation of being the best in one-on-one coverage in the country. The Rebels are also without D.K. Metcalf, a 6-foot-4 freshman who made two ridiculous touchdown grabs before breaking a bone in his foot. That also doesn’t include Quincy Adeboyejo and DaMarkus Lodge, who made highlight catches in Saturday’s win over Georgia and are both over 100 yards.
The numbers speak well of all three teams, but the schedule and the catches that Rebels receivers made on Saturday speak loudest for Ole Miss in this argument.