Another week has come and gone in the college football season. The SEC consistently gives the sport amazing games, moments, and players. Here are my five biggest takeaways in the conference from week four.
1. Georgia’s Big Win
The Bulldogs got a huge top-10 victory against the seventh-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish in what was the highest attended football game in the history of the state of Georgia.
Let’s be absolutely clear here. This was a great win over a very good football team. Go ahead and reel off all your Notre Dame jokes. The fact is that the Fighting Irish had a chance to beat the Bulldogs in Athens. Very, very few teams in the nation could do that.
Bulldogs are too much for the Irish in Athens tonight.
Georgia beats Notre Dame, 23-17 ? pic.twitter.com/7kiBGoT2w9
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 22, 2019
Of course, moral victories are for losers. It was Georgia’s night and they proved their worth. In fact, the win pretty much allows them a loss in SEC play and they would still make the playoff.
But their performance does come with some question marks. While Jake Fromm, D’Andre Swift, and the defense played fantastic, Coach Kirby Smart was a bit too conservative in his play-calling. Plus, I still have concerns for the receiving core of the Bulldogs. Besides Swift, their skill players do not stick out to me at all.
The immediate road ahead for Georgia is pretty easy. They travel to Tennessee first, then they have back-to-back home games against South Carolina and Kentucky. Unless a huge upset happens, they will be going into their rivalry game against Florida 7-0 on the season. It’s a good time to be a Bulldog fan.
2. Auburn Earns Respect
Frankly, I was very surprised to see Auburn go on the road and defeat Texas A&M. It’s not that I don’t think the Tigers are a good football team. They do already have a huge victory against Oregon. However, I absolutely did not guess that Auburn would be 4-0 at this point.
It’s a combination of factors for the Tigers. First, their defense has been lights out this year as the unit ranks 23rd in the nation in scoring defense. Secondly, freshman quarterback Bo Nix has been steady so far behind center. While he is only completing 53% of his passes, he has accumulated a total of 762 yards, six touchdowns, and just two interceptions on the year.
Bo Nix : 12/20 for 100 yards & a TD; 12 carries for 38 yards (1st career collegiate road start)
Seth Williams : 4 catches for 47 yards & a TD pic.twitter.com/O8rHlBIH2T
— Lee Harvey (@AyeThatsLee) September 22, 2019
I’ll give credit where credit is due. Gus Malzahn has done a great job coaching this year. That certainly feels strange to say, but it’s true. He is a highly scrutinized coach, and because of that, it’s important to note when he is proving people wrong.
The honeymoon for the Tigers could be ending soon, however. Remember that they still have to play Florida, Georgia, LSU, and Alabama. I don’t expect Auburn to finish the season ranked in the top 10, but for now, they deserve the spotlight.
3. Missouri Isn’t Going Away
Losing to Wyoming is not a good look, and many counted out Missouri early because of it. Fast forward three weeks later, and the Tigers scored over 30 points in three straight weeks to move to 3-1 on the season.
Saturday featured their biggest win of the year so far over South Carolina. This Gamecocks team isn’t all that bad either. They gave Alabama a decent game, but they did not stand a chance on the road against Missouri.
Kelly Bryant is still showing that he is a very capable game-manager behind center, and Larry Roundtree III is one of the best running backs in the SEC. Add that in with that fact that their defense is playing great football right now, and you have what *could* be the second-best team in the SEC East.
ENDZONE ?? ENDZONE. ?
— CFB Kings (@CFBKings) September 21, 2019
Besides Fromm from Georgia, Bryant is the last decent starting quarterback standing in the division. Will that be good enough for Missouri to finish second? Possibly. Their immediate future is relatively easy. The Tigers play Troy, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky before their showdown with Georgia.
I don’t believe that Missouri is all that great, but they should manage that schedule easily with Bryant and company still playing well.
4. Kentucky Disappoints Again
It was another bad week for the Wildcats as UK lost their second contest in a row to a very average Mississippi State team. While it is true that Kentucky dropped a few touchdown passes, they came out in the first half and laid an egg as a team.
It’s obvious that Sawyer Smith is still finding his way as a quarterback in power-five play, and it’s also obvious that this defense just isn’t playing winning football. The secondary still gets gashed for big plays, and the front seven is getting run over by opposing ground games. Giving up at least 140 rushing yards in back-to-back weeks is what it is.
Kylin Hill took flight from the 4-yard line for the TD ?
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 21, 2019
So where do the Wildcats go from here? The good news is that while they are 2-2 the next eight games are manageable. They don’t seem like a team that can beat Georgia or Missouri, but the other six games are more than winnable.
In fact, the next toughest game on their schedule after the Bulldogs and Tigers will be at South Carolina next weekend. Let’s not underestimate how important this game is for UK. Win and you have a legit chance at going 8-4 in the regular season. Lose it, and finishing 6-6 becomes the most likely reality.
5. Burrow is the Heisman Winner Through Four Weeks
Every week the fifth takeaway in this column will be what I think is the most underrated storyline of the weekend from the conference.
Through a quarter of the season, Joe Burrow is the unanimous Heisman Trophy winner if the award was given out today. I’m well aware of what Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts have done this year, however, Burrow has been better than both of them.
Joe Burrow y'all…
23/30 for 394 yards and 6 TD's.
— TigerDroppings (@TigerDroppings) September 21, 2019
— Josh Lemoine (@LsuFBallTruth) September 21, 2019
LSU’s win and Burrow’s performance over Texas are doing a lot of the heavy lifting here. Alabama and Oklahoma just haven’t played anyone near the caliber of the Longhorns thus far. Plus, I think that the Crimson Tide’s receivers are considerably better than LSU’s.
It just seems like Burrow’s play has completed changed the Tigers in 2019. They started the year as a team that would probably get second in West. After four weeks of play, LSU is on the same level as Alabama now.
I’m just as excited as the rest of you to see if Burrow can keep this run up and finally lead the Tigers to a win over the Crimson Tide. But as of right now, this college football season has been his.