Sidelines with John Clay

SEC football: Tennessee’s conference losing streak reaches double digits

Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano (2) reacts as he is hit by Florida defensive lineman Tedarrell Slaton (56) and defensive back Jeawon Taylor (29), Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Knoxville, Tenn. Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP C.B. Schmelter
Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano (2) reacts as he is hit by Florida defensive lineman Tedarrell Slaton (56) and defensive back Jeawon Taylor (29), Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Knoxville, Tenn. Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP C.B. Schmelter Chattanooga Times Free Press/Associated Press

Some SEC football notes:

With its 47-21 loss to visiting Florida on Saturday, Tennessee has now lost 10 consecutive SEC games.

Under Butch Jones, the Vols lost their final conference game in 2016, falling 45-34 at Vanderbilt. Tennessee then went 0-8 in league play last season, a major factor in Jones losing his job. Now under new head coach Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee opened its 2018 conference schedule by falling behind the Gators 26-3 at the half.

Tennessee turned the football over six times in the loss to the Gators. The Vols lost fumbles and threw two interceptions. And in the fourth quarter, the Tennessee defense gave up a 38-yard touchdown pass and a 47-yard touchdown run.

South Carolina, who visits Kentucky this Saturday, benefited from star individual performances in its 37-14 romp at Vanderbilt. Quarterback Jake Bentley was 19-for-28 for 261 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Running back Rico Dowdle rushed for 112 yards on 20 carries. And wideout Shi Smith caught five passes for 119 yards, including a 52-yard catch and a 38-yard touchdown grab.

If you want to go by comparative scores, Texas A&M lost to Clemson 28-26 in College Station. Texas A&M lost to Alabama 45-23 in Tuscaloosa.

Despite the loss to the top-ranked Tide, Texas A&M is seventh nationally in total offense, averaging 545.5 yards per game. Jimbo Fisher’s offense gained 393 yards on Alabama.

Former Madison Southern star Damien Harris ran the ball just seven times for Alabama on Saturday, but gained 52 yards. That’s 7.4 yards per carry. That’s also Harris’ yards-per-attempt average on the season. He has gained 230 yards on 31 carries for 7.4 yards per tote.

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is the nation’s pass efficiency leader with a rating of 230.47. Tagovailoa has completed 58 of 80 passes for 72.5 percent. He’s thrown for 1,033 yards with 12 touchdowns and has yet to be intercepted. Not bad.

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm is sixth nationally in pass efficiency at 199.66. Fromm is 50-for-69 through the air (72.5 percent) for 750 yards with six touchdowns and one interception.

In Georgia’s 43-29 win at Missouri, the Bulldogs returned a fumble for a touchdown and blocked a punt for a touchdown.

The Georgia defense did bother Missouri star quarterback Drew Lock, who completed less than 50 percent of his passes. Lock was 23-for-48 for 221 yards without a touchdown. He did throw an interception.

Missouri receiver Emmanuel Hall, who had 18 catches for 430 yards, an average of 23.9 yards per catch, through the team’s first three games, was completely shut down by Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker. Hall, who was reportedly slowed by a nagging injury, did not have a catch Saturday.

LSU finally committed a turnover. The Tigers did not commit a turnover in their first three games — the only FCS team not to do so — but did lose a fumble in the 38-21 win over Louisiana Tech on Saturday. LSU and Kansas now lead the nation in fewest turnovers with one. Kansas leads the nation in turnover margin at plus-3.0 per game.

Auburn’s offense gained just 225 yards in its 34-3 win over Arkansas. The Auburn defense held Arkansas to 290 yards. Gus Malzahn’s offense is 91st nationally, averaging just 385.0 yards per game.

Despite its 28-7 loss at Kentucky, Mississippi State leads the SEC in total defense at 269.3 yards per game. The Bulldogs allowed UK 300 yards on Saturday. Kentucky is second in the league in total defense at 279.5 yards per game. Georgia is third at 292.3.

Kentucky’s Benny Snell leads the league in rushing at 135.0 yards per game. Snell is third nationally. Ole Miss’ Scottie Phillips is second in the SEC in rushing at 116.75 yards per game.

Ole Miss had 651 yards of total offense in its 38-17 win over Kent State on Saturday. The game was tied 7-7 at the half. Ole Miss led 24-17 after three quarters before breaking it open in the fourth quarter with a pair of touchdowns. Phillips rushed for 112 yards.

Jeff Sagarin has six SEC teams in his top 16 computer rankings. Alabama is No. 1, followed by No. 5 Georgia, No. 10 Auburn, No. 12 Texas A&M, No. 13 LSU and No. 16 Mississippi State.

Kentucky jumped all the way from No. 52 to No. 31 in the Sagarin ratings after its win over Mississippi State. The Cats are also No. 17 in the Associated Press Top 25, the first time UK has cracked the poll since 2007.

SEC games for Saturday, Sept. 29

  • 12 p.m. - Louisiana at Alabama (SEC)

  • 12 p.m. - Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (ESPN)

  • 3:30 p.m. - Tennessee at Georgia (CBS)

  • 4 p.m. - Southern Miss at Auburn (SEC)

  • 4 p.m. - Tennessee State at Vanderbilt (SEC alternate)

  • 6 p.m. - Florida at Mississippi State (ESPN)

  • 7:30 p.m. - South Carolina at Kentucky (SEC)

  • 9 p.m. - Ole Miss at LSU (ESPN)

SEC football standings

EASTSEC

Overall

TeamWLWL
Georgia2040
Kentucky2040
Florida1131
South Carolina1121
Missouri0131
Tennessee0122
Vanderbilt0122
WESTSEC

Overall

TeamWLWL
Alabama2040
LSU1040
Auburn1131
Miss State0131
Ole Miss0131
Texas A&M0122
Arkansas0113
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