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Barnhart's burning questions for Week 6

67 days ago
Tony Barnhart | SEC Network

Can the Crimson Tide keep scoring at this level?

Alabama set a bunch of records in the three seasons (2014-2016) that Lane Kiffin was the Crimson Tide's offensive coordinator. But in his private moments head coach Nick Saban would confess that he felt something was missing.

"I want us to get back to the point where people don't want to play us," Saban told me when I visited his office last spring.

His point? Alabama's national championship teams of 2011 and 2012 not only beat you, they wore you into submission with a relentless, physical running game. For the previous three seasons Alabama was not doing that. Exhibit A: Clemson ran 99 offensive plays in its 35-31 victory over Alabama in the CFP national championship game in January.

So Saban brought in Brian Daboll from the New England Patriots and gave him some marching orders: Make the Alabama offense more physical again.

So far, so good. Alabama has outscored its last two opponents (Vanderbilt, Ole Miss) by a combined 125-3. Dating back to last season, Alabama has outscored its last five SEC opponents 260-34.

Now the No. 1 Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0) go on the road to face Texas A&M (4-1, 2-0), which hasn't lost since blowing a 44-10 lead against UCLA on Sept. 3.

If - and it's a big if because the Crimson Tide are on the road - Alabama wins by 50, it would become only the sixth team in history to win three consecutive games by half a hundred points. Florida State was the last team to do it in 2013.


Here are four other burning questions for Saturday:


Can LSU right the ship and spoil Florida's Homecoming?

There is no nice way to put this: LSU is struggling under first-year coach Ed Orgeron.

The Tigers were beaten soundly at Mississippi State (37-7) on Sept. 16. They had to work too hard to beat Syracuse (35-26) at home on Sept. 23 and then were upset by Troy of the Sun Belt (24-21) in a game, quite frankly, that wasn't that close.

LSU (3-2, 0-1) did not convert a third down against Troy. They have not rushed for 200 yards in any of the past three games. And now they have to go on the road to play a 21st-ranked Florida team (3-1, 3-0) that is starting to figure some things out.

Remember that this game was supposed to be played in Baton Rouge but was rescheduled after Hurricane Matthew hit Florida last season.

As a result, LSU has an unprecedented five SEC road games this season.

Keep an eye on this: There is a tropical storm named Nate that could impact this game. SEC and Florida officials are watching it.


Can Nick Chubb stand second to Herschel?

With 3,904 career rushing yards, Georgia's Nick Chubb is already No. 2 on the Bulldogs' all-time list behind the great Herschel Walker (5,259 yards in three seasons). Saturday at Vanderbilt Chubb has a chance to become No. 2 in Bulldog history in rushing touchdowns. The senior from Cedartown, Ga., needs one touchdown to tie Todd Gurley and Lars Tate at 36 for the career record. With two rushing touchdowns he would be all alone in second place behind Walker, who scored 49 touchdowns.

That's pretty heady stuff for a guy whose career seemed in jeopardy when he suffered a horrific knee injury at Tennessee in 2015.

"I think he's better than he's ever been," said Sony Michel of his running mate. "He breaks more tackles and makes more big plays in fewer carries."


Can South Carolina get its running game on track at home against Arkansas?

South Carolina (3-2, 1-2) jumped out to a 17-7 lead last week at Texas A&M. But the Gamecocks could not hold on because they simply could not run the ball. Consider: Josh Kendall of The State points out that South Carolina had 13 third-down situations against the Aggies. On six of those the Gamecocks needed nine or more yards to get the first down. As a result South Carolina only converted two of 13 third downs. You're not going to build on a lead or protect a lead like that.

To be fair, the South Carolina offensive line has been in a state of flux due to injuries. And losing wide receiver Deebo Samuel to injury has had a negative rippling effect throughout the offense.

For South Carolina and Arkansas (2-2, 0-1) this is one of those 50-50 games you have to win if you want to qualify for a bowl.


Is Auburn's Jarrett Stidham starting to find his groove?

We all forget that Stidham, the transfer from Baylor, basically went two years without playing meaningful football. It was inevitable that he would have to shake off the rust.

Unfortunately for Stidham, his second game as Auburn's quarterback was at Clemson, the defending national champion which, in many ways, looks to be even better on defense this season.

Stidham was sacked 11 times by Clemson and Auburn fans began to worry.

Well, last week against Mississippi State, Stidham completed 13 of 16 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns.

He completed four passes for over 40 yards and directed a 99-yard drive.

Going into Saturday's game with Ole Miss (2-2, 0-1) at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Stidham leads the SEC in passing percentage (72.0). In his last three games Stidham has completed 58 of 70 passes (82.8 percent) for 846 yards and three touchdowns.

He has seven completions of 46 yards or more.