The Mississippi State Bulldogs are not only the nation’s No. 1 ranked team through seven weeks, they also have the SEC’s best pass rush at the midpoint of the season. Mississippi State and Texas A&M are tied for first in the conference with 21 sacks apiece, and Mississippi State has cost its opponents an additional 20 yards of sack yardage compared to the Aggies.

The Bulldogs had three sacks against Auburn and speedy quarterback Nick Marshall in last week’s win over the Tigers, while A&M recorded two sacks for 18 yards in a loss to Ole Miss. Mississippi State also leads the conference in tackles for loss with 45.

Missouri is not far behind at third in the conference with 19 sacks, thanks in large part to the efforts of Shane Ray and Markus Golden (we’ll get to them in a bit). The Tigers have also accumulated the most sack yardage of any SEC defense, moving opponents back a total of 151 yards, an average of close to eight yards per sack. Missouri is second in the conference in tackles for loss, and once again it can thank Ray and Golden for its gaudy defensive numbers.

South Carolina was off last week, so it remains the SEC’s worst pass rushing defense with just six sacks and 21 tackles for loss on the year. No other SEC team has fewer than 10 sacks or 36 tackles for loss. Arkansas is second-worst in both categories at 10 and 36.

Team Sacks Sack Yards Tackles For Loss
T1. Mississippi State 21 129 48
T1. Texas A&M 21 109 41
3. Missouri 19 151 45
4. Kentucky 17 94 37
5. Florida 16 128 40
6. Georgia 15 131 41
7. Alabama 13 88 38
T8. Tennessee 12 86 48
T8. Vanderbilt 12 65 39
T10. Auburn 11 117 39
T10. Ole Miss 11 73 37
T10. LSU 11 73 36
13. Arkansas 10 78 36
14. South Carolina 7 65 21

The Razorbacks might not have the best pass rush in the SEC, but they’ve got the best protection against the pass rush of any team in the conference. Arkansas is tied with Florida in having allowed just five sacks this year, and the Razorbacks have cost themselves six fewer yards on sacks than the Gators. Arkansas has also allowed the fewest tackles for loss with just 27 in six games.

Auburn and Alabama have both allowed six sacks on the year, and Auburn is tied with Florida for the second fewest tackles for loss allowed at 29 on the season.

Seven of 14 SEC teams have allowed fewer than 10 sacks this year, and of the SEC’s six teams in the current rankings, four have allowed fewer than 10 sacks through seven weeks. Ironically, the two ranked teams to have allowed more than 10 sacks on the year are the SEC’s two highest-ranked teams in Mississippi State and Ole Miss.

Tennessee continues to boast the SEC’s worst protection, allowing a conference-high 23 sacks and 48 tackles for loss on the season. No other team in the SEC has allowed more than 15 sacks or 40 tackles for loss. The Volunteers allowed lowly Chattanooga to sack them five times in last week’s win, proving the Vols’ issues in protection are not just a product of a high level of competition in the SEC.

Team Sacks Allowed Sack Yards Allowed Tackles For Loss Allowed
T1. Arkansas 5 26 27
T1. Florida 5 32 29
T3. Auburn 6 31 29
T3. Alabama 6 46 31
5. Georgia 8 56 33
T6. Texas A&M 9 74 30
T6. South Carolina 9 87 24
8. Missouri 10 87 37
T9. Ole Miss 11 55 40
T9. Mississippi State 11 89 23
11. Vanderbilt 13 92 29
12. Kentucky 14 117 39
13. LSU 15 103 37
14. Tennessee 23 174 48

Myles Garrett recorded another sack in the loss to Ole Miss to pull himself within a half-sack of Jadeveon Clowney’s freshman record for sacks in a season. Garrett has five games remaining to break Clowney’s record, and more importantly he has five games left to lock down his conference-best sack total of 7.5.

Ray is second in the conference with 7 sacks, while his teammate, Golden, is one of five players tied for fifth in the conference with four sacks apiece. In referencing the team totals above, Ray and Golden have combined to record as many sacks as five entire SEC teams through seven weeks.

The other players tied with Golden at four sacks on the year are as follows: Ole Miss’ Marquis Haynes, Georgia’s Leonard Floyd, Florida’s Alex McCalister and Vanderbilt’s Caleb Azubike.

Name Team Position Sacks
1. Myles Garrett Texas A&M DL 7.5
2. Shane Ray Missouri DL 7.0
T3. Xzavier Dickson Alabama LB 5.0
4. Preston Smith Mississippi State DL 4.5
T5. Five players tied Various Various 4.0

Ray leads the conference in tackles for loss with 12.5, and Golden isn’t far behind in third with eight tackles for loss in six games. No other pair of teammates has as many sacks or tackles for loss as Ray and Golden this year, which is impressive considering both of Mizzou’s starting defensive ends from last year’s team are currently on NFL rosters.

Garrett is second in the conference between Ray and Golden with nine tackles for loss on the year, and Xzavier Dickson and Darius Philon round out the top 5 with more than seven tackles for loss each. Dickson ranks in the top 4 in the SEC in both sacks and tackles for loss this season.

Name Team Position Tackles For Loss
1. Shane Ray Missouri DL 12.5
2. Myles Garrett Texas A&M DL 9.0
3. Markus Golden Missouri DL 8.0
4. Xzavier Dickson Alabama LB 7.5
5. Darius Philon Arkansas DL 7.0