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SEC Snapshot: Saturday Chalk as Ranked Programs Protect Home Turf

Alabama, Ole Miss answer early-game tests in what was a quiet weekend in SEC country

The college football chaos scenario hits every single weekend of the season, and it did in Week 8, just not in the SEC. 

There was the nine-overtime affair between Penn State and Illinois, App State upsetting Coastal Carolina on a Wednesday, top 10 Oklahoma State falling and top three programs Cincinnati and Oklahoma being pushed by opponents with just one win on their resume. 

Still, there is plenty to take away from the nation's top conference, which went to work with five programs idle. 

No. 4 Alabama 52, Tennessee 24

UT was up for this challenge early and went toe-to-toe with Alabama for the entirety of the first half at Bryant-Denny Stadium. It was all about Hendon Hooker's ability to work as a passer, connecting on a pair of first-quarter scores to actually take an early lead. The Crimson Tide would regroup behind another masterful performance from Bryce Young, who accounted for four total touchdowns and more than 400 yards of offense in the win. The UA defense still has some holes in it and it gave up big plays in the secondary, but the offense is rollin' right along as the highest-scoring in the conference. 

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No. 12 Ole Miss 31, LSU 17

The Rebels were also tested at home early by LSU until a critical back-against-the-wall turnover was created by Tysheem Johnson. It was all Rebels thereafter, as the balanced attack once again proved it's not 100% dependent on Matt Corral. Still, the Heisman candidate put in an efficient day as a passer and added a score through the air and on the ground. A bigger takeaway is just that, the Rebel defense is opportunistic in the turnover department, creating six turnovers over the last three games. Paired with that offense, it's a top 10 group at this stage of the season. 

No. 17 Texas A&M 44, South Carolina 14

No let down from A&M since that Alabama upset, as the Aggies just look like a different team than the one who couldn't move the ball against Colorado or Arkansas. The defense continues to be the strength of the roster and deserves recognition every step of the way, but the young offensive line has rebounded from early-season woes and the two-headed running back monster of Devon Achane and Isaiah Spiller is alive and well. The two ran for 256 yards and two scores to power the win.  

Arkansas 45, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 3

Arkansas got back in the win column after its three-game losing streak and it was dominant against a weaker opponent like it should have been. The offense rolled to 500 yards of balanced production thanks to a host of runners and KJ Jefferson's four TD tosses. The Razorback defense, which had allowed more than 42 points per game against the last three SEC opponents it faced, didn't give up a touchdown and held the Golden Lions to just 223 total yards and a dreadful 1 for 14 on third down. 

Mississippi State 45, Vanderbilt 6

The national narrative coming out of this game was of course Mike Leach talking about Halloween candy, but the Air Raid allowed Will Rogers to spread the ball around to just about everyone, including two Vandy players. In all seriousness, MSU needed the rebound after the Alabama letdown last week at home on both sides of the ball. Its defense played the best Bulldog ball since the NC State win, holding the Commodores to just 155 yards of total offense and forcing a turnover along the way. Facing a backup passer helped, but the rushing defense was even better in holding VU's running backs to 1.75 yards per carry.

Here's to a Week 9 SEC slate that will raise the volume a bit. Georgia and Florida tangle in Jacksonville, Top 20 teams Ole Miss and Auburn get together on the Plains and all of a sudden Mississippi State hosting Kentucky feels like a fun contrast to watch.