The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

Barnhart's burning questions for Week 4

14 days ago
Tony Barnhart | SEC Network

Last week, the SEC was able to play a full slate of seven conference football games. But there were, Commissioner Greg Sankey noted, some nervous moments.

"Last week, we had a hurricane in the midst of a pandemic and had some teams a little bit thin from a roster standpoint, and we made it through," the commissioner said on The Paul Finebaum Show on Wednesday. "We got to Friday after all our COVID testing was in. I looked at (SEC Associate Commissioner/COO) Charlie Hussey and said, 'Surely next week won't be any worse than this one.'"

Unfortunately, it has been worse.

Before the week was over, two games (Vanderbilt at Missouri, LSU at Florida) had been postponed, probably to Dec. 12.

Then late Wednesday came word that Alabama coach Nick Saban had tested positive for COVID. He is not expected to be on the sideline for Saturday night's blockbuster game between No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia.

At this writing, the Georgia-Alabama game was still on. With all that as a backdrop, let's go with Five Burning Questions for Week 4 of SEC football.

So if Nick Saban can't be on the sidelines, what CAN he do to be involved in the Alabama-Georgia game?

According to the rules, nothing.

NCAA rules prohibit a head coach in quarantine from having communication with the coaches in the press box or on the field during the game. Starting 90 minutes before kickoff, the only communication with players and coaches on the field must come from the press box.

This situation is not unprecedented.

Earlier this season, Florida State coach Mike Norvell missed the Seminoles' Sept. 26 game with Miami after testing positive for COVID-19. He watched the game from home as Florida State lost to its state rival 52-10.

But here is another question: If Georgia and coach Kirby Smart win the game, does it snap Saban's 21-game winning streak against his former assistants?

Stay tuned.

Does Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano bounce back after a tough day at Georgia?

Tennessee led Georgia at halftime 21-17 on Saturday and was poised to knock off the highly-ranked Bulldogs. But in the second half, Guarantano committed three costly turnovers, which fueled Georgia's 44-21 win.

Now Guarantano tries to come back against a Kentucky defense that intercepted six passes in a 24-2 win over Mississippi State.

Tennessee (2-1) had won eight straight games dating back to last season when it fell to Georgia. The Vols have won five straight home games at Neyland Stadium.

Can Texas A&M and Kellen Mond keep it rolling at Mississippi State?

The Aggies (2-1) got their first Top Five win under Jimbo Fisher by beating Florida 41-38 in College Station last week. It was quarterback Kellen Mond's best game at Texas A&M as he completed 25 of 35 passes for 338 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Now Mond and company will take on a Mississippi State defense that is ranked 12th nationally, giving up only 285.7 yards per game. The Bulldogs are fifth in rushing defense (75.7 ypg).

It will be interesting to watch the Mississippi State offense, which has struggled since lighting up LSU on Sept. 26. The Bulldogs were held to 14 points against Arkansas and did not score any offensive points against Kentucky.

Can Auburn's Bo Nix win a big game on the road?

Nix got off to a good start on Sept. 26, throwing for 233 yards and three touchdowns in a 29-13 win over Kentucky at Jordan-Hare Stadium. So the Auburn faithful were anxious to see what Nix could do on the road the following week at Georgia.

As a true freshman, Nix had his struggles on the road, completing only 50 of 99 passes for 578 yards and four interceptions in four games.

Unfortunately, Nix's troubles on the road continued last week as he completed only 21 of 40 passes with an interception as Auburn lost to the Bulldogs 27-6.

So now Nix and Auburn go back on the road on Saturday to play South Carolina (1-2), which had a good performance against Vanderbilt.

If Alabama couldn't slow down the Ole Miss offense, what is going to happen when the Rebels go to Arkansas?

Some of these Ole Miss numbers just boggle the mind:

  • Quarterback Matt Corral is second nationally in passing efficiency (210.7)
  • Wide receiver Elijah Moore leads the nation in receiving yards per game (154.0) and is second in catches per game (10.3)
  • Kenny Yeboah leads the nation in receiving yards per game (118.3) among tight ends
  • The Rebels are second nationally in yards per game (573.0)

"They're scary to watch," Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman said. "Our offense had better come to play because their offense is unbelievably good."

Arkansas is coming off a difficult 30-28 loss at Auburn when the Tigers kicked the winning field goal with only seconds remaining.