Biggest storyline for each SEC team in Week 5
With three games of data from which to draw conclusions, there will be plenty of narratives pushed in the days leading up to Week 4.
Here is a look at the biggest storyline for each SEC team entering Week 5:
Story line: Will the outcome of the trip to Georgia define the Crimson Tide’s 2015 season?
With a loss to Ole Miss already on the resume, Alabama’s margin of error is razor-thin for the rest of the season. Suffering a second conference loss on the road in Athens on Saturday would give the Crimson Tide an 0-2 start to the conference schedule, putting a repeat as SEC champions in serious doubt.
Story line: Can Bret Bielema stop the bleeding with a win in Knoxville?
In the midst of a three-game losing streak, the Arkansas fan base is searching for a reason to be optimistic about the rest of the season. Leading the Razorbacks to their first win at Neyland Stadium since 1992 would be a good way for Bielema to boost morale.
Story line: Can the Tigers get themselves on track in a non-conference game with San Jose State?
The Jacksonville State game taught us to never take a non-conference opponent for granted, but this one really, really should be about the offense finding its identity. The focus likely will be on creating some situations where the offense can come away with some confidence as the Tigers head into a Week 6 bye.
Story line: Are the Gators a team we should be considering a serious contender for the SEC East?
With last week’s win against Tennessee giving the Gators a 4-0 record and a 2-0 start to the conference season, it is a fair question to ask about a team that many thought would spend 2015 in rebuilding mode. How the Gators fare against Ole Miss on Saturday could go a long way in telling us just how good Florida can be this season.
Story line: This is the game Georgia has been waiting for. Will the Bulldogs seize the opportunity?
Georgia enters its showdown with Alabama at 4-0, just as planned. Now, the Bulldogs have a chance to grab the attention of the country with a win against the Crimson Tide at Sanford Stadium on Saturday. If they do win, get ready for the talk about being in the driver’s seat for a College Football Playoff appearance.
Story line: Play smart, stay healthy and move one step closer to bowl eligibility.
Following Saturday’s impressive win against the two-time defending SEC East champions, the Wildcats get a visit from Eastern Kentucky on Saturday. It is not a game to be taken for granted, but the narrative will be about getting everyone plenty of rest with a bye coming in Week 6, followed by a Thursday night meeting with Auburn on Oct. 15.
Story line: What is the correct way to handle Leonard Fournette’s workload in Week 5?
Fournette has been the talk of college football during the last two weeks, and deservedly so. But entering this week as a more than six-touchdown favorite against Eastern Michigan, Les Miles and company will be charged with balancing between giving the people what they want and making sure that there is plenty left in the tank for Fournette when November rolls around.
Story line: Would a win at Texas A&M re-establish the Bulldogs as an SEC West contender?
If you ask most Mississippi State fans, they’ll tell you that they never went away. But after a tough loss to LSU to open conference play back in Week 2, there was a sentiment that perhaps the Bulldogs could be taken out of the discussion. A strong win at Auburn last week refuted that, and a win at Kyle Field against an unbeaten Aggies squad would get the entire league’s attention.
Story line: The Tigers simply can’t lose to South Carolina on Saturday if they expect to play in Atlanta this season.
Last week’s loss at Kentucky was a gut-punch to the Tigers, who are in search of their third consecutive trip to the SEC Championship game. The good news is that it is just one game, and with Kentucky likely to lose a second conference game at some point, the Tigers are likely to still control their own destiny in the SEC East. However, a loss to South Carolina changes everything.
Story line: The Rebels already went through a semi-letdown effort against Vanderbilt. Can they get back up for a trip to The Swamp?
Beating Alabama was an ultimate high for the Ole Miss players, so last week’s less-than-perfect outing against Vanderbilt was probably to be expected. But the Rebels will have to sharpen things back up again for a trip to Gainesville to play a Gators team that is both 4-0 and ranked in the Top 25.
Story line: How will freshman QB Lorenzo Nunez fare in an SEC road-game environment?
The youngster did some things that were worthy of excitement out of the South Carolina fan base in the Gamecocks’ 31-14 win against UCF last week. But he’ll be tested outside of the friendly confines of Williams-Brice Stadium against one of the league’s top defensive units at Missouri.
Story line: Can Butch Jones close out a close game?
After blowing double-digit fourth-quarter leads to both Oklahoma and Florida, the Vols’ fan base has wavered in its once feverish support of the third-year coach, citing his lack of ability to close out a big game. While Arkansas is dealing with its own problems, Jones would still do himself a huge favor by showing he can sustain a lead against a conference opponent on Saturday.
Story line: Will the Aggies do a better job against Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott this season?
If Texas A&M is going to improve to 5-0 on the season, it likely will require an adjustment to the way the Aggies handled the talented Mississippi State quarterback. Prescott gave them fits last season, accounting for five touchdowns in a 48-31 win. An area of particular concern was his ability to run the ball, carrying it 23 times and scoring three rushing touchdowns.
Story line: The performance of the Commodores on this trip to Middle Tennessee could be the defining moment of the Derek Mason era.
That’s no exaggeration. The Commodores are 4-12 in their first 16 games under Derek Mason, and that includes no wins against SEC opponents and only two against FBS opponents (UMass and Old Dominion). The Blue Raiders have won the last three meetings between these programs, a fact which gets under the skin of most every Vanderbilt fan. A loss here will do Mason no favors and could ultimately spell out the beginning of the end to his time in Nashville.