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SEC Spin Zone: Week 9

What can your team take from its loss?

Florida v Georgia Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Week 9 of the college football season is now in the rear view mirror. And while the season is barreling on at what is certainly an unsafe speed, at least it’s headed towards rare territory in the Southeastern Conference. We’re talking about a true semifinal Saturday in Week 10 with the Georgia Bulldogs visiting the Kentucky Wildcats to decide the East and the Alabama Crimson Tide rolling into Red Stick on a mission to clinch the West against the LSU Tigers.

This will be a thrilling Saturday, but of course the other 10 teams in the conference have had to fall on the sword at various points this season to set this situation up. In week 9, there were five SEC teams that succumbed to wounds, some of them even fatal in terms of either conference title hopes or bowl hopes.


Missouri

I’ll start off by saying that I am a supporter of Kentucky. I know what a painful loss looks like. This was a painful loss and an ironic one at that from my perspective. On Saturday night, the Missouri Tigers fell to the Wildcats by a score on 15-14 on the final, untimed play of the game.

Kentucky v Missouri
Ahmad Wagner managing to make this catch, albeit out of bounds, could actually be what prompted the flag and DPI call.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Yes, it was a judgement call that could have gone either way to set up the final play, but to even have been in this position is the real crushing reality for Mizzou. The Tigers’ normally efficient offense did not gain a single first down in the second half. It is...difficult to win that way and they still almost did. That’s the story in this game because the Tiger defense played pretty well. Kentucky’s defense may just have been that good, or it could have been an off night of play calling and execution for the Tigers. I think it’s a little bit of both.

A trip to The Swamp to grab a first SEC win is what this offense has on tap next. Florida will be another test against a solid defense for Derek Dooley and Drew Lock and then after that, three more conference games to end the season. Season save mode is in full effect.

Florida

The Florida Gators fell to the Georgia Bulldogs by a score of 36-17 in 2018’s installment of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. The Gators needed to dig themselves out of holes twice in this game and could only manage to do so once. UGA jumped out ot a 10-0 lead after Jordan Scarlett fumbled on Florida’s opening drive.

Early in the second half, The Gators climbed to a 14-13 lead, but managed to find themselves down 23-14 by the end of the third quarter and things continued downhill from there. Although losing a rivalry game is a top-5 worst feeling as a college football fan, Florida fans should take a step back and look at the season to this point.

6-2 with a huge win over the current third ranked team in the country is nothing to scoff at, especially with a new coach. Double-digit wins is a still a real possibility as well with two SEC teams with four combined conference wins, Idaho and a hobbling Florida State team left on the schedule. There’s some serious Gator bait that can be consumed.

Texas A&M

The Texas A&M Aggies got Cowbell’d Saturday night in Starkville. The hot-and-cold Mississippi St. Bulldogs won by a score of 28-13. Nick Fitzgerald was out to redeem himself from his showing against LSU and that he did with 241 passing yards, two passing TDs and 88 yards on the ground. Also included was a 76 yard TD run to put the nail in A&M’s coffin. It was a night to forget on offense, too for the Aggies as the rushing attack only mustered 61 rushing yards.

A&M’s remaining schedule is objectively harder than Florida’s, but their perspective on the season to this point should be similarly positive. The game against the Bulldogs was their first loss against not Alabama or Clemson who are by the way, ranked as the top two teams in the CFP rankings. Not shabby at all to start the Jimbo Fisher era.

Tennessee

It appeared that the Tennessee Volunteers were on their way to another impressive SEC road win against the South Carolina Gamecocks, but it was not to be. After jumping out to a 21-9 lead, the Vols ultimately fell 27-24 at Williams-Brice Stadium. Jarrett Guarantano continued his solid play, but Rico Dowdle was the closer in this one, notching 140 rushing yards.

Even though this loss drops Tennessee to 3-5, this team is still worlds above where they were at this point last season. Last year, we were looking at a team that had essentially quit. Jeremy Pruitt has gotten the players to buy in this season and it shows. Everyone is hungry to make plays on both sides of the ball and there is enough energy present to reach six wins.

Arkansas

The Vanderbilt Commodores came to Fayetteville and laid it on the Arkansas Razorbacks in Week 9 by a score of 45-31. After this result, the Razorbacks find themselves in the Spin Zone for the seventh time this season and frankly look to be just about “spun” out. I would be remiss, however to not give a shout out to Rakeem Boyd, who picked up his third 100 yard rushing game against conference competition. The sophomore and former Last Chance U star will be one of the main cogs going forward during this rebuilding process.

It will take time for Chad Morris to right the ship here and any rational fan knew this coming into the season.