Think Kirby Smart’s seat is getting a touch warm already?
Nick Saban’s protégé is just seven games into his tenure in Athens, Georgia, but after falling to Vanderbilt 17-16 — Smart called the loss “sickening” — Bulldog faithful are probably growing restless already. That’s the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of the SEC for you. Former LSU coach Les Miles posted seven seasons of at least 10 wins and he’s currently unemployed.
If only the Bulldogs could find a coach to consistently win 10 games ... That was the joke circulating social media immediately after Vanderbilt’s third win over Georgia in the last 22 meetings; although it should be noted Miami — and former Bulldog coach Mark Richt — were upset by North Carolina 20-13 later in the evening.
There was inevitably going to be growing pains for Smart as a first-time head coach. The problem is there’s little room for error in the SEC and the Bulldogs inconsistent play this season won’t endear him to UGA’s fan base.
As for the Commodores, the win marked Mason’s first at a SEC foe’s stadium in 10 tries.
Winner of the Week
Alabama 49, Tennessee 10: Remember when folks were asking “how can Nick Saban start a true freshman at Alabama?” Where are those folks now? Alabama demolished Tennessee in Knoxville Saturday to lay claim as the SEC’s undisputed top team. Tennessee has supposedly been the best contender from the East, but consecutive losses to Texas A&M and now the Tide boot them from the conversation. QB Jalen Hurts only threw for 143 yards and rushed for 132 with three touchdowns in the win. Even when he gets hit late or throws a rare interception, Hurts doesn’t seem to get rattled.
Losers of the Week
Arkansas 34, Ole Miss 30: I guess the bright side for Rebel fans is at least they didn’t blow yet another massive first half lead — perhaps you’ve heard about their collapses against Florida State and Alabama? Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly seemed off for much of the night despite accounting for three touchdowns (one passing, two rushing), while Arkansas ran all over the Rebels to hold onto the win. Things won’t get any easier for Ole Miss as they visit Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to face former coach Ed Orgeron and LSU.
LB Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt): It’s not often these days a Commodore finds his way into the star player spotlight, but Cunningham certainly earned it. The linebacker made 19 tackles in Vanderbilt’s 17-16 win over Georgia. No tackle was bigger than his wrapup of Isaiah McKenzie with :56 left in the game to force a turnover on downs.
180: Arkansas has a reputation as one of the SEC’s toughest rushing attacks. And yet, Rawleigh Williams III’s 180-yard performance in Arkansas’ 34-30 win over Ole Miss was the most by a Hog since November 2010. Williams is now the SEC’s leading rusher with 785 yards. He also has five touchdowns rushing.
Associated Press: No. 1 Alabama, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 15 Florida, No. 17 Arkansas, No. 18 Tennessee, No. 21 Auburn, No. 23 Ole Miss, No. 25 LSU. Receiving votes: None.
USA Today/Amway Coaches Poll: No. 1 Alabama, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 12 Florida, No. 17 Arkansas, No. 19 Tennessee, No. 22 Ole Miss, No. 23 LSU, No. 24 Auburn. Receiving votes: None.
1. Alabama (7-0)
2. Texas A&M (6-0)
3. Florida (5-1)
12. Kentucky (3-3)
13. Missouri (2-4)
14. South Carolina (2-4)
Game to watch
Texas A&M at Alabama (2:30 p.m., CBS): The Tide and Aggies have been on a collision course for some time now. Alabama is coming off of manhandling 49-10. The Aggies edged UT two weeks ago and had a bye last weekend — lucky them. Interestingly enough, the Aggies’ offense hasn’t exactly been propelled by its passing attack. Texas A&M is second in the SEC with 1,646 yards rushing with a league-best 6.8 yards per carry.