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The State of the Wild, Wild SEC West

College football is back and better than ever in the SEC. Three games through the schedule, some teams are still trying to find their footing, while others are starting to assert their dominance. 

In the ultra-competitive SEC West, there is plenty to talk about with each team as they head into conference play:

Alabama: Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide have (as usual) look impressive throughout their victories against Duke, New Mexico State, and conference opponent South Carolina. Tua Tagovailoa is coming off an SEC Offensive Player of the Week where he set a career high in passing yards. It helps that Tagovailoa has a deep receiving core at his disposal, led by Jerry Jeudy. With an upcoming schedule that features familiar foes Texas A&M, LSU and Auburn, the Crimson Tide will look to repeat as SEC West Champs. 

Arkansas: After a rough 2018 season, Chad Morris has led the Razorbacks to a 2-1 start heading into the heart of conference play. Despite the winning start, the team has not looked impressive. Portland State gave the Razorbacks a scare, Ole Miss defeated them by two touchdowns, and Colorado State engaged in a shootout with Arkansas. A bright spot has been running back Rakeen Boyd, who is currently fourth in the conference in  rushing yards. If Arkansas can stay competitive in the SEC West, then they’ll be able to play spoiler for those teams that need help at the end of the season. 

Auburn: After defeating PAC-12 power Oregon, there is plenty of optimism on the Plains for these Tigers. True freshman Bo Nix has had his bright moments, showcasing his athleticism and precision deep ball accuracy. The calling card for this offense remains to be the running game, with a stable of running backs that include JaTarvious “Boobie” Whitlow” and Kam Martin. Among defenses in the SEC West, Auburn ranks up there with the best of them, and the defensive line is arguably the best in the country. The Tigers will have to face a bevy of SEC powers, including Texas A&M, Florida, LSU, Georgia, and Alabama if they want to have a chance to sniff the division crown. 

LSU: Perhaps no SEC team has had a more impressive early win as the Tigers had when they went to Austin and defeated Texas in a shootout. This win propelled them into the top five and shined a spotlight on quarterback Joe Burrow, now in his second year on the Bayou. Burrow has already thrown for 11 touchdowns and is leading a revitalized offense, something that LSU has lacked in recent years. Their biggest test will be when they travel to Tuscaloosa and face Alabama, a team that has defeated them eight straight years, including a 29-0 drubbing last year in Baton Rouge. If they can escape with a win against the Crimson Tide, the Tigers are in the driver’s seat to win the division.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have had a shaky start to the 2019 season, recently suffering a loss to Kansas State at home. Plenty of veteran talent has left Starkville in the past year, including quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and several defensive players. Coach Joe Moorhead has had to rely on a new signal caller in Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens to lead the team thus far. A strong component of their offense through the first three game has been running back Kylin Hill, who currently leads the conference in rushing with over 400 yards. In a tough division, the Bulldogs have no easy way to win and their best hope is to pull off a bunch of major upsets. 

Ole Miss: Coming off a season where they failed to make a bowl, the Rebels are continuing to search for consistency in 2019. An opening week loss to Memphis put the team in a tough position, but they rebounded to win games against fellow SEC West foe Arkansas and Southeast Louisiana State. Running back Scottie Phillips is fourth in the conference in rushing, and wide receiver Elijah Moore is third in receiving yards. By relying on the leadership of quarterback Matt Coral, Phillips, and Moore, the Rebels can attempt to create havoc in the SEC West. 

Texas A&M: Coming into the season, there were high expectations for Jimbo Fisher’s team. So far, he has the Aggies as an ascending team in the division. They were able to cruise past Texas State and Lamar and lost to Clemson by a two-touchdown margin. Their biggest test early will be their SEC opener against Auburn. This will be a measuring stick for quarterback Kellen Mond and the Aggies, who are still trying to prove themselves as worthy members of a tough SEC West. If they can defeat the Tigers and pull off some upsets of teams like LSU and Georgia, then there’s a chance that A&M can propel up towards the top of the division. 

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