SEC football grades: Report card for each team halfway through season – USA TODAY

  • October 13, 2022

The SEC football season has reached its midpoint, with 13 of 14 teams having played six games (and Tennessee one short of that mark due to an early open date). What better time to hand out midterm grades for each school’s play so far?
The USA TODAY Sports Network has report cards for each team. Some schools will want to frame them, while others will keep them stuffed in their backpacks and hope mom doesn’t find out.
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Here are the grades for each team:
Record: 6-0, 3-0 SEC
Best win: Arkansas, 28-17
Worst performance: Texas, W 20-19
Assessment: Alabama has looked dominant at times, its defense in particular. The offense, backup quarterback or not, has been inconsistent.
– Nick Kelly
Record: 3-3, 1-3 SEC
Best win: South Carolina, 44-30
Worst performance: Texas A&M, L 23-21
Assessment: Arkansas knew it had a tough schedule, and its only loss so far that wasn’t expected preseason was against Mississippi State in Week 6. But Arkansas’ defense has vastly underperformed, and the Razorbacks are riddled with injuries.
– Christina Long
Record: 3-3, 1-2 SEC
Best win: Missouri, 17-14
Worst performance: Penn State, L 41-12
Assessment: The Tigers can’t run, can’t pass and can’t block. Their defense has kept them be semi-competitive, but Bryan Harsin needs more than that to keep his job – it’s hard to see Auburn being favored in any of its remaining Power 5 games.
− Jacob Shames
Record: 4-2, 1-2 SEC  
Best win: Utah, 29-26 
Worst performance: Kentucky, L 26-16 
Assessment: The Gators remain a work in progress under first-year coach Billy Napier. First-year starting quarterback Anthony Richardson has shown flashes of star ability but also has turned the ball over nine times in six starts.  
Kevin Brockway  
Record: 6-0, 3-0 SEC  
Best win: Oregon, 49-3 
Worst performance: Missouri, W 26-22 
Assessment: This team looked better in the eyes of some than the national title team of 2021 before a drop-off after three games. A more dynamic offense led by Stetson Bennett and Brock Bowers and a strong defense makes a repeat possible, but tough games remain. 
– Marc Weiszer
Record: 4-2, 1-2 SEC
Best win: at Florida, 26-16
Worst performance: South Carolina, L 24-14
Assessment: The Wildcats’ season always was going to be defined in large part by games at Florida, at Ole Miss, against Mississippi State and at Tennessee, and they’ve split those critical games so far. A home loss to South Carolina threatens to derail what UK expected to be a special season. 
− Brett Dawson
Record: 4-2, 2-1 SEC
Best win: Mississippi State, 31-16
Worst performance: Tennessee, L 40-13
Assessment: The Tennessee performance showed that this program still has a long way to go before it’s ready for the big boys. But that doesn’t mean an eight-win season can’t still be in the cards.
– Koki Riley
Record: 5-1, 2-1 SEC
Best win: Texas A&M, 42-24
Worst performance: LSU, L 31-16
Assessment: Mississippi State has a record right at what many expected to this point, but the Bulldogs have done so while dominating their opponents in wins. Nine wins remain a reasonable possibility in Mike Leach’s third season.  
– Stefan Krajisnik
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Record: 2-4, 0-3 SEC  
Best win: Louisiana Tech, 52-24 
Worst performance: Kansas State, L 40-12 
Assessment: The Tigers have been close to several big wins this season. A dreadful offensive line and slow starts on the road have crushed their dreams each time. 
 – Matt Stahl 
Record: 6-0, 2-0 SEC
Best win: Kentucky, 22-19
Worst performance: Tulsa, W 35-27
Assessment: When Ole Miss is on, it looks like one of the best, hardest to beat teams in the country. The problem is putting it all together for four quarters instead of two or three at a time, which has most often been the case this year. 
− Nick Suss
Record: 4-2, 1-2 SEC
Best win: Kentucky, 24-14
Worst performance: Georgia, L 48-7
Assessment: The Gamecocks’ first three games were disappointing, but they’ve gone from potential disaster to bowl contenders thanks to the win over Kentucky. Despite a difficult schedule in the second half of the season, the team is poised to continue its steady improvement. 
– Emily Adams
Record: 5-0, 2-0 SEC 
Best win: LSU, 40-13 
Worst performance: Pittsburgh, W 34-27 OT 
Assessment: Quarterback Hendon Hooker is a Heisman Trophy candidate, and the Vols have three AP Top 25 wins in their best start since 2016. 
– Adam Sparks 
Record: 3-3, 1-2 SEC
Best win: Arkansas, 23-21
Worst loss: Appalachian State, L 17-14
Assessment: The offense has kept this team from reaching its full potential, the low point being against Appalachian State. The loss to Alabama could give a boost to how the Aggies are viewed.
– Maxwell Donaldson
Record: 3-3, 0-2 SEC
Best win: Northern Illinois, 38-28
Worst performance: Alabama, L 55-3
Assessment: Vanderbilt looks much improved from 2021, especially on offense, and has already surpassed last year’s win total. But the last two games have shown the Commodores still have a long way to go to be SEC contenders.
– Aria Gerson