Maybe the SEC is not quite as dominant as it once was in the college football landscape; but entering October, the conference has a handful of teams capable of putting together legitimate playoff runs, a pair of worthy Heisman Trophy candidates running the football and, of course, Alabama. Things are still as interesting as ever in the Southeastern Conference, and this week looks to serve up a healthy menu of main courses worth devouring.
Leonard Fournette is great and so is Nick Chubb
No player has captured the national spotlight in the past week more so than LSU running back Leonard Fournette. The top rusher in the nation, in terms of average rushing yards per game, has run to the front of the Heisman Trophy race entering October. Odds are he broke a couple of tackles in doing so. Fournette is averaging roughly 42 rushing yards per game than the next closest back in the nation (Indiana’s Jordan Howard) and this week he takes on the nation’s worst rushing defense, Eastern Michigan. It’s a horrible mismatch on paper, but don’t be surprised if Fournette’s numbers in the box score this week are lower than you’d anticipate. LSU could have this one wrapped up pretty early on, which should allow Les Miles to give his top player a nice rest to keep him in good shape for future SEC competition.
Fournette, who has national football folks already (foolishly) suggesting he sit out 2016, is having such a good season that you may have missed what Georgia running back Nick Chubb is doing. Spoiler alert: it has been pretty solid. Chubb is second in the SEC in rushing, trailing only Fournette, with 599 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Chubb is a big reason why Georgia is off to a good start this season and is favored at home this week against Alabama. Speaking of which…
SEC Game of the Week: No. 8 Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC) vs. No. 13 Alabama (3-1, 0-1 SEC)
For the first time in six years, Alabama enters a game as an underdog. Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide have struggled to get the offense in gear and the defense was unable to contain Ole Miss a couple of weeks ago. Because of that, the Crimson Tide were tripped up at home in the SEC opener and now make their way to Athens to take on a surprisingly-good Georgia team between the hedges.
To clarify, it is not a surprise that Georgia is off to a good start. The Bulldogs were an easy favorite in the SEC East this season with Heisman hopeful Chubb running the football. What is surprising is the performance of quarterback Greyson Lambert, a transfer who struggled to hold the starting job at Virginia last season. Lambert is the SEC’s passing leader in completion percentage (76.5) and he has thrown seven touchdown passes to zero interceptions in four games.
SEC Upset Alert of the Week: No. 25 Florida (4-0, 2-0 SEC) vs. No. 3 Ole Miss (4-0, 2-0 SEC)
Florida and Ole Miss have not played each other since 2008, and a lot has happened at each school since Ole Miss pulled a stunner on the 2008 Gators at The Swamp. The roles may be reversed this weekend as it is the Gators that are looking to pull the upset on the Rebels. Ole Miss is riding high with loads of talent, but Jim McElwain has the Gators feeling good after pulling off a miracle win against Tennessee last week.
Strange but true, thanks to crossover scheduling in the SEC, but Ole Miss has won two straight games at Florida and has lost just once in four meetings dating back to 1989.
Quick SEC Picks
Missouri 20, South Carolina 13
Alabama 27, Georgia 26
Auburn 32, San Jose State 20
Ole Miss 30, Florida 20
Tennessee 24, Arkansas 20
LSU 52, Eastern Michigan 10
Middle Tennessee 23, Vanderbilt 20
Texas A&M 38, Mississippi State 32
Kentucky 48, Eastern Kentucky 24
Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.