Ranking the SEC's Top 10 performances from Week 8
To be honest, Week 8 in the SEC wasn’t all that great.
Let’s call it what it was — mediocre.
Alabama and Auburn blew out inferior opponents — Tennessee and Arkansas, respectively — while Mississippi State routed Kentucky.
Missouri beat up on Idaho, so that was, uh, cool, I guess. And the LSU-Ole Miss game was decent for a half or so. Of course, the Tigers eventually pulled away. All in all, there was a lot left to be desired with the SEC slate over the weekend.
But while the excitement wasn’t really there, there were still some impressive performances. Here are our favorites from Week 8, with coaches, players and teams eligible for consideration:
10. Gus Malzahn
Auburn had a nice bounce-back week after being upset in Baton Rouge by LSU. The Tigers traveled to Fayetteville and destroyed Arkansas 52-20. It was a complete performance on offense and defense (outside of arguably a few too many rushing yards allowed). War Eagle couldn’t have looked much better than it did in the second half of this game. That was good news for Malzahn, whose name had recently reemerged on hot seat lists after the LSU debacle.
9. Connor Culp
If you follow these weekly performance rankings, you know that we don’t discriminate against kickers. Culp was a major factor in LSU’s 40-24 win over Ole Miss on Saturday, as he made all four of his field goal attempts. Add his 4-for-4 mark on extra points and he had 16 total points for the Bayou Bengals. And that was the difference in the final score.
8. Daniel Bituli
The Tennessee linebacker, who had 23 tackles in Week 1 against Georgia Tech, had yet another outstanding performance on Saturday for the Volunteers. There isn’t much positive for Tennessee fans to take away from the 45-7 loss to No. 1 Alabama, but that lone touchdown came from Bituli. It was an incredible 97-yard interception return off of Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. That’s not bad considering Alabama hardly ever turns the ball over. Bituli also totaled nine tackles in the Vols’ losing effort.
7. Mississippi State
Mississippi State has quietly gotten back to a respectable level of play after being blown out by Georgia and Auburn in consecutive weeks. The Bulldogs blasted Kentucky 45-7 on Saturday just one week after easily defeating BYU. Against the Wildcats, who were 5-1 coming in, Mississippi State put up 441 yards of offense behind the arm and legs of QB Nick Fitzgerald. It also racked up 21 points in the fourth quarter.
6. Alabama/Nick Saban
After a bad week of practice translated into a sluggish first half Saturday against Tennessee, Alabama pounded the Volunteers in the second half for a 45-7 win at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Saban was able to “straighten them out,” as he put it last Thursday, well enough for Alabama to extend its winning streak over Tennessee to 11. While the first half wasn’t impressive, the second half and Saban’s coaching ability was.
5. Brian Daboll
Speaking of Alabama, we often mention Saban as the obvious reason for Alabama’s success — and he is. But how about Tide offensive coordinator Brian Daboll? Nobody has really talked about this guy’s performance this season. After being tasked with taking over for offensive genius Lane Kiffin, Daboll has guided a smooth Alabama offense. The Tide gained 604 yards on the Vols as Alabama remained the SEC’s No. 1 offense in total yardage and scoring through eight weeks.
4. Darius Slayton
Don’t look now, but Auburn might have an exceptional downfield threat at wide receiver. Slayton caught four balls for 146 yards and a touchdown on Saturday against Arkansas. That’s an average of 36.5 yards per catch. His highlight was the 62-yard touchdown catch which came on a trick play. Overall, it was an astounding effort from Slayton, who is third in receiving yards for Auburn this season. QB Jarrett Stidham should probably try to find him more often.
3. Darrel Williams
The LSU rushing attack against Ole Miss on Saturday was the stuff of offensive dreams. But it wasn’t all Derrius Guice. Williams, the Tigers’ No. 2 back, rushed 22 times for 103 yards. He also showed his ability as a pass-catching threat with four receptions for 105 yards. All in all, the Bayou Bengals rushed for 393 yards. Not a bad day.
2. Drew Lock
It’s hard not to mention Lock on this list every week, because he seems to always throw for 300 or 400 yards. As hard as it is to imagine, Lock was even better on Saturday. Sure, Missouri was playing the Idaho Vandals, but you still have to commend a quarterback who can lead his team to 68 points while throwing for 467 yards and six touchdowns. Lock is undoubtedly one of the SEC’s best quarterbacks.
1. Derrius Guice
It was just an unbelievable performance from Guice in Week 8. He’s No. 1 on this list by a long shot after rushing for 276 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries Saturday at Ole Miss. Guice became the only back in SEC history with three career games of at least 250 rushing yards. It was the first time this season he has eclipsed 150 yards, and what a way to blow past that number. Just an incredible night.