Week 11 almost became the week that the Big Two went down. Instead, it became the week that the Big Two became the Big One, albeit that in two weeks, the identity of the Big One could switch. Or in three weeks, it could again become the Big Two. Or something.

Anyway, sorting out the chaos, we’re handing out grades. As is our custom, we grade all the teams, then honor (or dishonor) the best and worst teams in all three main areas of the game.


Auburn: A+

Week 11 brought a season-validating, job-saving butt-kicking from the Tigers. Had Alabama lost, it might have been better for Auburn, but actually, they’re probably happy with the way it stands anyway — with a chance for more style points in the Iron Bowl.

GPA: 3.150 (↑0.122)
YTD: A- ¦ C ¦ C ¦ A- ¦ A- ¦ A- ¦ D ¦ A ¦ I ¦ B+ ¦ A+

Mississippi State: A-

Giving the team that lost a better grade than the team that won? In this case, yes. Dan Mullen went into this game determined to grind out an opportunity for victory. A bad series of play calls and an ill-timed zero blitz from Todd Grantham kept the win from happening, but the preparation was meticulous. The gunslinger coach with the QB he stole from UT-Chattanooga nearly took down the best team in the country.

GPA: 3.125 (↑0.069)
YTD: A- ¦ B+ ¦ A ¦ C- ¦ C- ¦ I ¦ B+ ¦ A ¦ A ¦ C- ¦ A-

Alabama: B+

It wasn’t pretty (State held the ball for 39 minutes and led for much of the game). It wasn’t easy (suspense down to the final snap). But Alabama did what champions do, which is face legitimate challengers and take every single blow, and find a way to win. In a beauty contest, it would have been pitiful. In a football season, it was a statement.

GPA: 3.550 (↓0.033)
YTD: A ¦ A- ¦ B ¦ A ¦ A ¦ B- ¦ A- ¦ A- ¦ I ¦ B+ ¦ B+


The longer the season goes, the more the Tigers show signs of becoming a good offensive football team: 217 yards passing and 198 rushing equates with being an absolute nightmare to defend.

GPA: 2.900 (↑0.039)
YTD: A ¦ A- ¦ D+ ¦ B- ¦ F ¦ A ¦ A ¦ B+ ¦ I ¦ B- ¦ B+

Texas A&M: B+

So after most of a season of watching A&M pound dirt and grind out yardage, they decide to drop 499 yards passing on poor New Mexico. Actually, where did the running game go? Only 63 yards on the ground?

GPA: 2.325 (↑0.103)
YTD: F ¦ D- ¦ C- ¦ B+ ¦ B ¦ A- ¦ B+ ¦ I ¦ C ¦ C+ ¦ B+

Mississippi: B

Sure, the Rebels scored 50, and Jordan Ta’amu left people saying “Shea who?” But they also gave up 427 yards, including 228 on the ground via 7.4 yards per carry.

GPA: 2.200 (↑0.089)
YTD: C+ ¦ C+ ¦ C- ¦ I ¦ D+ ¦ C+ ¦ B+ ¦ C ¦ D- ¦ B+ ¦ B

Arkansas: C-

The offense was kind of grudgingly okay, and the defense played a good half. There’s no way to hide that this is the worst team in the West.

GPA: 1.450 (↑0.033)
YTD: B- ¦ D ¦ I ¦ D ¦ C+ ¦ F ¦ C- ¦ F ¦ B+ ¦ D- ¦ C-


Missouri: A

Anytime you outgain the other team in a conference game by 374 yards, you earned an A. This game was 17-17 late in the first half. From then on, it was 33-0, and Mizzou ended the game inside the UT 10-yard line. Yes, their opposition the last two weeks has been awful, but the Tigers are getting it done.

GPA: 2.050 (↑0.217)
YTD: C ¦ D+ ¦ F ¦ F ¦ I ¦ C ¦ D ¦ B+ ¦ B ¦ A ¦ A

Kentucky: A-

The bad news? The Wildcats allowed 308 yards passing to Vandy. The good news is that it was accompanied by four interceptions and five sacks. Offensively, UK rushed for 232 and passed for 195. This was the workmanlike win they’d been missing all season.

GPA: 2.325 (↑0.158)
YTD: C+ ¦ C- ¦ A- ¦ C ¦ C ¦ C+ ¦ I ¦ F ¦ A- ¦ C- ¦ A-

South Carolina: B+

Ugly win. The Gamecocks outgained Florida by 168 yards, but coughed up four turnovers. In perhaps the most memorable play of this mistake-prone game, Florida intercepted a Jake Bentley pass only to fumble on the return, which Carolina advanced for just over 20 yards. It was that kind of day.

GPA: 2.775 (↑0.053)
YTD: C+ ¦ B+ ¦ C- ¦ C+ ¦ C- ¦ A ¦ A- ¦ I ¦ B+ ¦ C+ ¦ B+

Vanderbilt: C

They were outgained by just 59 yards — but lost four turnovers and generally seemed to have horrific luck. Vandy probably wasn’t as good as they looked in the first three weeks of the year. Similarly, they’re not as bad as they look now.

GPA: 2.250 (↓0.028)
YTD: B+ ¦ B ¦ A- ¦ D ¦ C- ¦ D ¦ D+ ¦ I ¦ C- ¦ A- ¦ C

Georgia: C-

Was this just a giant disaster or is Auburn really that good? Answers lurk in two weeks. But for now, we’re going to assume it was some of both. The Bulldogs were just not ready for the fight.

GPA: 3.500 (↓0.188)
YTD: B+ ¦ B+ ¦ B+ ¦ A ¦ A ¦ A ¦ A- ¦ I ¦ A ¦ A- ¦ C-

Florida: D-

There is effort. This is less embarrassing than Tennessee’s setback, but this is like calling one serial killer kinder than another. Brutal performance.

GPA: 1.667 (↓0.114)
YTD: D ¦ I ¦ C+ ¦ B+ ¦ A- ¦ C+ ¦ C- ¦ I ¦ F ¦ F ¦ D-

Tennessee: F

At one point late in the fourth quarter, I told a friend, “You get the sense that Tennessee wishes there was some honorable way to forfeit, so that they wouldn’t have to go through this.”

GPA: 1.225 (↓0.136)
YTD: C ¦ B ¦ D ¦ C- ¦ F ¦ I ¦ F ¦ C- ¦ F ¦ B- ¦ F

Class ranking through Week 11

GPA calculation: On a 4.0 scale, A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0. We added or subtracted a quarter point (0.25) for pluses/minuses, tallied up the season-to-date points and divided by the number of games.

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This week’s hall passes


Auburn: 488 yards on Georgia — 251 in the air, 237 on the ground. We love balance, and while Auburn has put up gaudier numbers in the past, it has rarely done so with this much balance.

Alabama: There were more impressive stat lines than Bama’s 444 yards (242 in the air, 202 on the ground). But the bottom line is that every time the offensive was backed against the wall, it made the plays that were needed. Trying to beat Jalen Hurts is like trying to stop Dracula.


Auburn: Holding UGA to 230 yards was impressive. Holding its ground game to 32 carries for 46 yards was surreal. Two of the best backs in recent SEC memory carried the ball 20 times — with a long play of 7 yards.

Texas A&M: Sure, it was against New Mexico, but holding any opponent to 144 total yards (including just 24 passing) is worth mention.


Kentucky: Returner Lynn Bowden took a kick 93 yards, kicker Austin MacGinnis was perfect including three field goals, and punter Miles Butler dropped each of his three punts inside the Vandy 20.

Texas A&M: Christian Kirk had a punt return touchdown and the punting game was sharp (49 yards per kick).

In detention this week


Florida: The can’t-shoot-straight gang was at it again. 301 total yards isn’t horrible, but 17-for-39 passing and 78 yards on the ground is awful. Sprinkle in a couple turnovers and a 2-for-15 day on third-down conversions.

Tennessee: If QB Will McBride cut an album, he could very well call it “They pulled my red-shirt for THIS?” 285 total yards against a porous Missouri defense, with UT gift-wrapping four turnovers as well.


Mississippi: Allowing 427 yards to a mediocre Sun Belt team isn’t exactly impressive. The Rebels also didn’t force a turnover, while allowing 7.4 yards per carry.

Tennessee: Allowing 433 yards rushing to Missouri really says everything. That’s 8.2 yards per carry.


LSU: Missing a field goal happens, but two extra points? Yikes.