Week 8 made us feel like we were handing out two separate sorts of grade cards — one for the teams that are at the head of the class and showing promise and one for teams with an upside of potentially playing in Shreveport. Nobody said it’d be easy, but as usual, we grade all the teams, then honor (or dishonor) the best and worst teams in all three main areas of the game.

SEC West

Mississippi State: A

This was a quality effort. While Kentucky won’t be mistaken for the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, State crushed the UK run defense, which had been one of the best in the conference. The Bulldogs outpassed the Wildcats, outrushed them, outtackled them, and outcoached them. Add State to the logjam of teams that could end up second in the West.

Auburn: A

The offensive balance is legitimately scary. When a team passes for 284 yards and rushes for 345, it did a day’s work. When it does it in a conference game, well, it must be playing Arkansas. Auburn looked very good, although admittedly, against an underwhelming opponent.

Alabama: A-

There was a sleepy quality to this game, but any time you outgain your opponent by 496 yards, you had a pretty good week. Alabama never really seemed engaged by this game, which is probably a bigger slap at the prestige of the Tennessee team than a statement on Alabama.


The Tigers had a wonderful offensive game, putting up 593 yards and both passing and running at will. The only concern, honestly, was run defense. Ole Miss ran for 5.5 yards per carry on LSU, and the Rebels have been terrible on the ground this season. Against A&M or Alabama, that run defense won’t cut it.

Ole Miss: C

Matt Luke’s team didn’t give up. It made a solid attempt at offensive balance with Shea Patterson not at his best — obviously, since he was playing on one leg, that’s understandable.

Arkansas: F

This just won’t cut it. The fifth year of Bret Bielema’s tenure feels like it should be about year two. The defense was terrible and the offense, while not awful, just did not distinguish itself in any way.

Texas A&M: Incomplete

Off this week.

SEC East

Missouri: B+

Piling up 658 yards and not losing has to be a good feeling. The Tigers still allowed Idaho to pass for almost 200 yards and hold the ball for over 35 minutes. This game would feel much more convincing if not for Mizzou’s habit of playing great against awful teams and then folding like a cheap taco against decent competition.

Tennessee: C-

We don’t have moral victories, but this felt kind of like one. Yes, Tennessee lost by 38 points, and yes, the Vols were outgained by 496 yards. But it could (should) have been much worse, and Tennessee managed to play about as well in losing by 38 as could be hoped. If that’s not confusing, then try to figure out how Butch Jones’s program ended up here. Still, an A for effort combined with an F- for execution equals a C-.

Kentucky: F

Kentucky lost by the same score as Tennessee, and while Mississippi State is a very decent team, they aren’t Alabama. After going through its bye week at 5-1, with running back Benny Snell complaining about not getting respect, Kentucky played like a team that deserved zero respect, getting dominated in all phases. Next week’s home game against Tennessee could be interesting.

Georgia: Incomplete

The smart kid in this grade stayed home sick.

Florida: Incomplete

So did the kid who is hoping to avoid summer school.

South Carolina: Incomplete

So did the kid who has steadily improved throughout school.

Vanderbilt: Incomplete

So did the kid who started out the year like an honor student but might now be voted “Most Likely to End Up Sniffing Glue.”

Hall passes


Auburn: It’s all about balance for the Tigers, and the more of it they show, the more legitimate their chances to knock off Georgia and mess up the league. 284 yards on 30 passes, 345 yards on 47 rushes. Quite a day’s work, even if it was accrued against Arkansas.

LSU: Derrius Guice, glad you decided to drop by and rush for 276 yards. The Tigers threw 13 passes, but had enough balance to roll up 593 yards. Honestly, anybody could have been on this side. Alabama had 600 total yards, so did Mizzou. But Guice re-emerging is a story we have to follow.


Alabama: Yeah, the Tide played Tennessee, but holding an opponent to seven first downs, 1-of-13 on third or fourth down, and allowing only two plays of 10+ yards (12 and 18, if you’re tracking it) while pitching a defensive shutout (UT’s lone touchdown was an interception return) … well, that gets recognition.

Mississippi State: State controlled the Kentucky passing game and limited its running game. For good measure, the Bulldogs returned an interception for a score, which means that State’s defense basically tied the Wildcats on its own.


Arkansas: It’s hard to get recognition when you lose by 32, but the special teams weren’t Arkansas’ problem. De’Vion Warren had a nice 100-yard kick return, and the kicking game was also very solid. It didn’t help, but don’t blame the special teams.

Missouri: The Tigers did miss an extra point (kicking nightmares this season), but Richaud Floyd’s punt return touchdown needs some love.



Tennessee: Again, we know, it’s Alabama. But this was just hopeless. Tennessee might not have Alabama=level talent, but it has more to offer than a game with two 10-yard plays.

Kentucky: No identity here. Stephen Johnson had a lousy day passing, but his offensive line did little to help him out. The power running game of last season was missing in action again.


Ole Miss: The Rebels seem to always end up on posters in the LSU game … when another Tigers running back just embarrasses them. Not only did Guice go all Walter Payton on them, but Darrel Williams quietly rushed for over 100 yards as well.

Arkansas: It has been a brutal year for this defense. Well, really for this entire team.


Auburn: They did give up a punt return score, but not much else to pick on.