Biggest story line for each SEC team in Week 6
With five games of data from which to draw conclusions, there will be plenty of narratives pushed in the days leading up to Week 6.
Here is a look at the biggest storyline for each SEC team entering Week 6:
Story line: Is the Crimson Tide back to being a likely College Football Playoff participant?
While several of the nation’s top teams stumbled in Week 5, the Crimson Tide looked like vintage Alabama under Nick Saban, going to Athens for a 28-point drubbing of previously-unbeaten Georgia. With Arkansas on the schedule for this week, the talk should be about how much better the chances of a return to trip to the College Football Playoff look now than they did following a Week 3 loss to Ole Miss.
Story line: Bret Bielema finally won a close road game. Can he turn that in to Tuscaloosa magic?
How could Arkansas coach Bret Bielema instantly wipe away grumblings about a 1-3 start that included a loss to Toledo? By following up a win in Knoxville against the Vols with a win in Tuscaloosa against the Crimson Tide. It’s a tall order, but an instant path back into the good graces of the Razorbacks faithful.
Story line: Can the Tigers get something figured out to salvage the second half of the season?
Auburn enters its bye week as one of the most disappointing 3-2 teams in all of college football. All three of the Tigers’ wins came outside of conference play, so they must find a way to grab some SEC wins in their final six chances.
Story line: Is it possible that the Gators really are this good this early under Jim McElwain?
Few would have predicted a 5-0 start for what was supposed to be a rebuilding Florida program, but here we are after three consecutive SEC wins to start the Jim McElwain era. The Gators have a chance to really assert themselves as the SEC East favorite with a road win at Missouri.
Story line: Can the Bulldogs rebound quickly from Alabama loss to avoid letting the SEC East slip away?
Georgia entered its showdown with Alabama as the prohibitive favorite to win the SEC East, but following a Bulldogs loss in that game and a Gators win against Ole Miss, the landscape has changed just a bit. If Georgia loses to Tennessee, which has taken the Bulldogs down to the wire in each of the last two seasons, it could put them in a tough spot going forward.
Story line: Put that awful game against Eastern Kentucky in the rear-view mirror.
In fact, if I were Mark Stoops I’d never mention it again. Somehow the Wildcats escaped a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to the FCS program and came away with an overtime win. Now enjoying a bye week, Kentucky is better served to focus on the positives of a 4-1 start to the season.
Story line: Does the Tigers offense have enough balance to be a serious College Football Playoff contender?
RB Leonard Fournette is the talk of the country, but as the Tigers continue to move along as an unbeaten SEC West team, their ability to compete with the nation’s elite will be analyzed ad nauseam. They match up well in many places, but completing just four passes against Eastern Michigan (even if by design) is a huge red flag at this point.
Story line: What is the new realistic definition of success for this season?
Bulldogs fans were holding out hope for a trip to the SEC Championship following a 10-win season and the return of their star quarterback, but that dream now appears to be on life support following Mississippi State’s second conference loss at Texas A&M last week. So how do the Bulldogs define a new set of goals for the remaining seven games?
Story line: Beating Florida at Faurot Field looks like it may be necessary for a third trip to Atlanta.
The Tigers looked more like vintage Missouri with a win against South Carolina last week, which healed some of the wounds from a loss to Kentucky in the conference opener. But if the back-to-back SEC East champs are going to make it three in a row, they need to knock off an unbeaten Gators squad to level out the divisional playing field. Oh, and they need to figure out what’s going to happen at quarterback as well.
Story line: How with the team handle its first loss of the season?
Let’s be honest, not many people saw Florida’s beat-down of Ole Miss coming, and that could make for an interesting recovery process for a team that entered the game at No. 3 in the polls. The Rebels should be able to take care of business against New Mexico State this week, but a meeting with unbeaten Memphis could prove to be a tricky game ahead for a team that is thinking about the past.
Story line: Can the Gamecocks stop Fournette, play spoiler this week?
LSU has shown it is very good, but has also shown a lack of offensive diversity. If South Carolina is able to successfully stop Tigers RB Leonard Fournette, who has a streak of three consecutive 200-yard rushing games, then there is a chance the Gamecocks could hang around and have a chance to win in the first game played between these teams in Columbia since 2008.
Story line: Can the Vols get up off the mat after consecutive close losses?
The well-being of Butch Jones’ job may depend upon it. He’s not necessarily on the hot seat yet, but with a 2-3 record and a trip to Alabama looming, this game against Georgia at home is creeping into a “need to have it” category.
Story line: Will two weeks to prepare for Alabama make the difference?
Texas A&M is 5-0, ranked in the Top 10 and heading into a bye week. Things are good in Aggieland. But if this is going to turn into a SEC Championship type of season, a win against Alabama at Kyle Field on Oct. 17 is huge. With an extra week to prepare, will the Aggies have what it takes?
Story line: The Commodores averted disaster with a comeback win at Middle Tennessee State. Does that help Derek Mason shape higher expectations for the remainder of the season?
Vanderbilt enters its bye week feeling good about a comeback win against Middle Tennessee and sporting a 2-3 record. The Commodores are a couple of ill-advised red zone throws against Western Kentucky away from being 3-2 in Mason’s second season. Can Mason prove there has been some progress in Year 2 during the final seven games of the season? A conference win would be a good place to start.