Explosive plays are the reason most of us watch football.

There’s nothing more exciting than holding your breath as your favorite quarterback lets one fly 50 yards down the field, or when the conference’s most exciting running back slips through a seam and has nothing but daylight in front of him.

So this season, we’re going to be tracking explosive plays for each team … how well they’re able to produce them, and how well they are able to defend them.

For the purposes of this story, SDS defines an explosive play as a run of at least 20 yards or a pass of at least 30 yards.


This is the ultimate measure of how well a team is performing in the explosive plays department. It is simply a tally of explosive plays created measured out against the amount of explosive plays allowed. If your team has made more explosive plays than they’ve given up, there’s a good chance they are doing something right.

Mississippi State regains its position atop the conference in explosive play margin, staying at +16 by adding two explosive plays and also allowing two. This week, the Bulldogs and Tide face off in a matchup of two of the four best teams in this department. Alabama got the better of LSU in a similar matchup last week, earning a +1 over the Tigers.

Tennessee earned a +3 in Saturday’s win against South Carolina, which is now even further in the basement at -8 for the season. Auburn made the biggest move with a +4 against Texas A&M, and the Tigers move up from 12th and into a tie for 8th with Arkansas and Florida.

Kentucky (-1) visits Vanderbilt (-5) this week in a battle of two of the four league teams that are in the negatives.

1. Mississippi State +16 31 15
2. LSU +15 33 18
3. Ole Miss +13 38 25
4. Alabama +11 24 13
T5. Georgia +9 27 18
T5. Missouri +9 17 8
7. Tennessee +5 31 26
T8. Arkansas +4 33 29
T8. Auburn +4 23 19
T8. Florida +4 22 18
11. Kentucky -1 25 26
12. Texas A&M -3 26 29
13. Vanderbilt -5 15 20
14. South Carolina -8 22 30


This will be the area in which we break down how the explosive plays are happening for each team.

A week ago, Ole Miss took the top spot from LSU. Now, the Rebels created separation from the rest of the conference by adding six more explosive plays against Arkansas. Ole Miss now has 38 explosive plays, five more than the next-best teams. The Rebels got three through the air and three on the ground in the loss to the Razorbacks.

To its credit, Arkansas got five of its own in that contest to bring its season total to 33 and move into a tie for 2nd with LSU. Alabama got three explosive plays against LSU, all coming on the ground. Meanwhile, the Tigers had two but both were through the air and not in the run game, where they’ve been known to get them this season.

Despite a poor offensive showing against Vanderbilt, Florida got yet another run of 20-plus yards. That’s somewhat of a big deal since the Gators have recorded three of their six explosive runs in the last two games.

1. Ole Miss 38 16 22
T2. Arkansas 33 15 18
T2. LSU 33 23 10
T4. Mississippi State 31 13 18
T4. Tennessee 31 17 14
6. Georgia 27 19 8
7. Texas A&M 26 14 12
8. Kentucky 25 13 12
9. Alabama 24 15 9
10. Auburn 23 10 13
T11. South Carolina 22 12 10
T11. Florida 22 6 16
13. Missouri 17 11 6
14. Vanderbilt 15 11 4


Much like the offensive rankings above, we’ve taken similar effort to break down exactly how the SEC defenses are allowing explosive plays.

Missouri had only allowed three passes of 30-plus yards entering Week 10, but it allowed two last week alone to Mississippi State. The Tigers still lead the SEC with only five allowed on the season. Their total of 8 allowed, via the run and pass combined, is still far and away the best in the conference. Mizzou’s three explosive runs allowed is tied with Akron, Navy and Washington for the fewest in the FBS.

Alabama and Mississippi State are ranked 2nd and 3rd, respectively, entering their matchup in Starkville on Saturday. The Tide has made its mark stopping explosive runs, while the Bulldogs have done the same against the pass.

Florida may be able to add to its minuscule six explosive runs against South Carolina, which has allowed 24. Only Texas Tech (26) has allowed more runs of 20-plus yards among Power 5 teams.

1. Missouri 8 3 5
2. Alabama 13 4 9
3. Mississippi State 15 9 6
T4. Florida 18 10 8
T4. Georgia 18 9 9
T4. LSU 18 6 12
7. Auburn 19 13 6
8. Vanderbilt 20 13 7
9. Ole Miss 25 10 15
T10. Kentucky 26 15 11
T10. Tennessee 26 13 13
T12. Arkansas 29 12 17
T12. Texas A&M 29 19 10
14. South Carolina 30 24 6