Week 4 was the first week with several conference games for the Southeastern Conference, and we are beginning to discover the contenders and the pretenders in this league.
When Georgia toppled Clemson in Week 1 they looked like national championship contenders with a tiny Achilles’s heel: Scoring points on offense.
After the first quarter of the Vanderbilt game, I think that weakness has been put to bed. They continue to dominate like they haven’t in years as they continue a relentless march to Atlanta and beyond.
Who else showed they belong in the league’s top tier? Our thoughts during the offseason: “Texas A&M can start 5-0 and maybe topple Alabama in the West.” Now? They’ve been replaced by a party-crasher—the Arkansas Razorbacks who are not merely trying to make a bowl but are ascending the rankings and standings as serious threats in the West.
Can they win it? It seems unlikely, but they’ve answered every challenge so far and have accomplished so much in just four weeks.
Kentucky also improved to 4-0 after holding off South Carolina; there are only five undefeated SEC teams left, and the Wildcats are one of them.
Not everyone impressed, though. Missouri slipped up on the road at Boston College to squash all their preseason hype, Texas A&M’s playoff hopes have pretty much been passed off to Arkansas after today’s Southwest Classic, and Mississippi State fell to 2-2 after a failed comeback bid against LSU. Great win for the Tigers; bummer for the Bulldogs looking for a Year 2 leap under Mike Leach.
They’ve played the games so let’s pass out grades:
One of the most dominant SEC wins in a long time. Even Alabama doesn’t pulverize to a pulp a conference foe on the road like that. Absolutely masterful performance. Grade: A+
The Tide rolled again with a 49 point stomping over Southern Miss, doing a flawless job of not falling for the ol’ “caught looking ahead to the Ole Miss” trick. Grade: A+
Another A+ Win of the Week for the Arkansas Razorbacks, who are taking the nation by surprise with a takeover of the state of Texas! It’s crazy how much Woo Pig has accomplished so far—they’re one of the most awesome teams of 2021! These Hogs have more momentum than a freight train as they rumble into a huge matchup against our #1 Georgia Bulldogs. If they win next week they get the top spot—I’m serious. If Arkansas beats Georgia then they will be the best team in the SEC. Try predicting that in the offseason! Grade: A+
The Gators shrugged Tennessee off in The Swamp to reach 1-1 in the conference standings. Dominant performance and great win for a team that’s aiming to topple Georgia and get a rematch with the Tide they almost had last week. First they have to get out of Lexington next week. Grade: A
5. Ole Miss
Taking an off week already? Booooring. Use the time wisely as you prepare for your Super Bowl against Alabama in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Grade: N/A
In 2018 Kentucky did the unthinkable and started 3-0 in the SEC and 5-0 overall in a breakthrough 10-3 season they hadn’t had since the 1970s. Now they’re 2-0 in the SEC and 4-0 overall as they attempt to catch and keep that lightning in its bottle. Unfazed by the bright lights of Williams-Brice Stadium, their defense clamped down in a 16-10 win that’s movin’ them up to #6. There’s just been one problem—the turnovers. Turnovers will cost you dearly in college football and the ‘Cats have been very, very lucky that they’re still undefeated after coughing the ball up way more than their opponents. They turned it over three times tonight, but the defense made up for it. Next time they might not be so fortunate. Grade: B
This sure isn’t where the Aggies want to be right now. They came out of 2020 with tons of momentum and with a goal to finally take down Alabama for the SEC West in 2021. Turns out they have competition, and while Arkansas has basked in the spotlight all A&M has to show for themselves is a 10-7 escape at Colorado. Grade: C
8. LSU Tigers
Nice win over the Bulldogs on the road, Tigers. Beat Auburn next week, and you’ll continue to put the UCLA game in the rearview mirror. Grade: A
The Tigers are 3-1 but sure don’t look ready for conference play after a putrid showing against Georgia State they were luck to come away with a win in. Still, a win is a win. Grade: C-
Well they almost came back to win it but LSU got payback for the 2020 opener as the Bulldogs fell in Starkville. They’re 2-2 but things could be worse—the LA Tech kicker could’ve kicked the ball properly in Week 1 and made them 1-3. Grade: B-
11. Missouri Tigers
Ooof, a road loss to the ACC is always rotten, especially in a year where you’re trying to make some noise. Keep grinding, Mizzou, but it looks like this wasn’t your week to shine. Grade: C
You played hard and with passion as the home crowd cheered you on with all their might, but in the end you have to actually do something with the whopping three fumbles the team throws in your lap if you want to pass this class with the required 50% bowl-eligibility winning percentage. Grade: C
Hmm, 2-2 four weeks in. Will Big Orange make the 6-6 cut? Even if they do, they’d probably play in the lowly Gasparilla Bowl. Grade: C
I’m not sure how y’all are going to field a team against UConn next week because all I’m seeing over here is a black-and-gold pile of goo. When a team jumps out on you 35-0 in the first quarter, you know you’re in trouble. An ‘F’ for flattened. Grade: F