Quick thoughts and takes on every Week 9 SEC game.
Texas A&M 49, Mississippi State 30
Well THERE we go, Texas A&M. It really is possible to come up with an interesting and fun offensive performance. Kellen Mond was fantastic, completing 17-of-23 passes for 234 yards and three scores, and he ran for 76 yards and two touchdowns. The ground game ripped off yards in chunks, and the O keep pouring it on in the explosion that’s been missing at times throughout the first part of the season.
Mississippi State was able to run, too. Kylin Hill took off for 150 yards and a touchdowns, Garret Shrader threw three touchdown passes, and the O was able to move a bit … after the game was effectively over. The three turnovers ended up crushing the Bulldogs – they had to be perfect, and weren’t. They had to come up with a few early defensive stops, and couldn’t.
There’s still time for MSU to go bowling with a trip to Arkansas up next and Abilene Christian and Ole Miss late. It’ll have to win all three games, and the team has to bust through this ugly funk on both sides of the ball, but it’s possible to get to six wins.
That’s what you’re supposed to do against bad teams. Texas A&M got its fifth win, it’ll get its sixth next week against UTSA, and it’ll at least be bowl eligible. That might not seem like that big a deal, but considering the Aggies weren’t going to win the SEC title this year, it’s a good run against a schedule that looked so nasty before the season. Beat the Roadrunners, and the pressure will effectively be off with Georgia and LSU to close after the South Carolina game – the team can let it rip and have some fun.
Tennessee 41, South Carolina 21
There was a time when Tennessee was deep in the conversation to be WR U. It’s not back there yet, but that’s what the Vol targets are supposed to do – that was a whole lot of fun. Jauan Jennings caught seven passes for 174 yards and two scores, and Marquez Callaway caught three passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. Jarrett Guarantano hit 11-of-19 passes, JT Shrout connected on 7-of-11, and Tennessee had a real live offense for a full game.
South Carolina threw well, but the defense couldn’t do its part. Ryan Hilinski threw for wee over 300 yards, but the offense fell flat in the second half just as the Vols kept on rolling. The Tennessee D pressured Hilinski, and the USC defensive front couldn’t do anything against the Vol backfield.
Tennessee is now at 3-5 with an honest goal of going bowling. It gets UAB next, then at Kentucky, then at Missouri, then Vanderbilt. Go 3-1, and this turns into an amazing season. For South Carolina, this ruins any and all positive things from the Georgia win a few weeks ago. Now at 3-5, things look a whole lot uglier then they do for the Vols with at Texas A&M and Clemson to close out after dealing with Vanderbilt and Appalachian State.