Kentucky v Georgia
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We are rounding the corner toward the second half of the 2023 college football season as we've already enjoyed nearly a month and a half of action featuring SEC teams. No. 11 Alabama fell to No. 9 Texas in Week 2 in one of the defining games of the season, but all is not lost in Tuscaloosa as it pertains to the conference race. The Crimson Tide roared back with wins over No. 13 Ole Miss and Texas A&M to take control in the SEC West as they look to regain their seat on the throne. 

Speaking of control, No. 1 Georgia has kept rolling along nearly halfway through the year. The 6-0 Bulldogs have won 23 straight games dating back to the 2021 SEC Championship Game, though they did pass a massive test in Week 5 in a 27-20 win at Auburn despite being two-touchdown favorites. Carson Beck has come along nicely in his first season as starting quarterback, topping the 300-yard mark through the air in three straight games. 

There have been some disappointments throughout the league, though. No. 22 LSU, for example, fell to No. 4 Florida State in Week 1 and again to Ole Miss in Week 5 in a 55-49 game in which both sides seemed allergic to defense. The Tigers entered the season picked by many as a potential College Football Playoff participant, but now will not only need to win the league but also root for chaos in the other Power Five leagues if they want to keep those hopes alive. 

Let's break down the SEC teams so far in the 2023 season and hand out some grades as the midseason point approaches. 

SEC report card

The one-loss Crimson Tide have dealt with issues, including an offensive line that has proven to be a liability. However, it has found a way to work through the issues up front due in part to an offensive scheme that evolved toward the strengths of quarterback Jalen Milroe as the season has progressed. Make no mistake, this is far from the Alabama juggernaut that we have seen in year's past. However, it is one that can evolve into a championship-caliber team if it keeps taking steps forward. Grade: B

Let's not sugarcoat things: This has been an extremely disappointing season in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks are 2-4 overall and winless in the SEC despite having one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the country --  KJ Jefferson  -- and a running game that has been less-than-stellar. Despite some injuries, this is not the Razorbacks team many expected. If there is a silver-lining, it's that the defense has progressed from "horrific" last season to "average" this season. Grade: D

First-year coach Hugh Freeze came to Auburn with an offensive background that was supposed to revitalize a team that became as stale under former coach Bryan Harsin. Well, that has not gone as planned. Starting quarterback Payton Thorne has been up and down all season, while backup quarterback Robby Ashford , who is supposed to be the red zone changeup signal-caller, hasn't been able to regain his job. The defense has kept them in every single game despite the offensive issues, though. That foundation will pay dividends moving forward because, at some point, Freeze should be able to get the offense cranked up. Grade: C+

The Gators are 4-2, which includes a dominating win over No. 19 Tennessee . However, the defense got torched by Kentucky two weeks ago and the offense hasn't been able to find the consistency needed to contend for the SEC East title. The silver lining to this season is that first-year starting quarterback Graham Mertz leads the conference in completion percentage (80%) through six games after transferring in from Wisconsin. Grade: C

The Bulldogs got off to slow starts in each of their first five games, but the only one that ever was in doubt was the Week 5 win at Auburn. The offense has become a force thanks to Beck's progression through the air and dominating performances from tight end Brock Bowers . This isn't your ordinary Bulldog defensive front, however. They have struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks and rank 11th in the league in tackles for loss per game (5.33). Grade: A-

The 24th-ranked Wildcats suffered their first loss of the season last week at Georgia, but that shouldn't take away from the incredible work coach Mark Stoops and his staff have done in 2023. The offensive line has recaptured its magic after a disappointing 2022 and transfer running back Ray Davis has emerged as one of the league's top rushers. The SEC East might be out of reach, but this team is fully capable of earning a New Year's Six berth. Grade: B

Quarterback Jayden Daniels should be at or near the top of every Heisman Trophy projection as this offense doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. The prevailing issue is that the defense has been atrocious, and even that might be generous to the Tigers. Coach Brian Kelly's crew was considered a legit threat to win the SEC West for the second straight season and perhaps contend for a College Football Playoff berth. That is a pipe dream right now, but there's a lot of season left. Grade: C+

First-year coach Zach Arnett shouldn't necessarily get a "pass" based on the circumstances behind his elevation to the full-time position, but immediate success after stepping in for a legend like Mike Leach is nearly impossible. With that said, the 3-3 Bulldogs are winless in the conference and veteran quarterback Will Rogers  isn't performing as well as he did with Leach's guidance when he set multiple SEC records. That's a tough pill for Mississippi State fans to swallow. There is still hope for making a bowl game which, in reality, should have been the realistic goal from the outset. Grade: C-

Coach Eli Drinkwitz was furious when quarterback Brady Cook was booed early during the 30-27 win over Kansas State, and all he did was use it for motivation to light up opposing defenses since. The Tigers' 5-0 start put Missouri back on the national map. and even though last week's loss to LSU still stings, Mizzou is a legitimate threat in the SEC East if it can spring an upset over Georgia. Grade: A

The one-loss Rebels are, unsurprisingly, an offensive force thanks to coach Lane Kiffin and quarterback Jaxson Dart's early season performances. The rushing offense has been phenomenal despite star tailback Quinshon Judkins fighting through injuries during the first half of the season. However, the loss to Alabama hurts in the race for the SEC West title and the defense hasn't progressed as much as some had hoped. Grade: B

South Carolina's offensive line has let the Gamecocks down through five games with the unit ranking 131st in the nation in sacks allowed per game at 4.6. That performance has hampered the offensive flow this team showed during the final three games of the 2022 season. However, quarterback Spencer Rattler has been solid despite the pressure. Without him, the lackluster 2-3 record could be much worse. Grade: C-

There was plenty of hope on Rocky Top before the season, but that got tampered down after the Week 3 loss to Florida  on the road in Gainesville. Quarterback Joe Milton III has been solid through the air but hasn't evolved into the difference-maker that the Volunteers need to contend for a CFP berth for the second straight season. The defense averages 9.7 tackles for loss per game and has been one of the biggest reasons why they are still in the SEC East race. Grade: B

This season has to feel like a roller coaster for an Aggies fanbase desperate for a winner. The defense got lit up in Week 2 in the loss to Miami but has rebounded and produced dominating performances in wins over Auburn and Arkansas . The loss to Alabama last week was gut-wrenching, but this year has clearly proven that the Aggies are headed in the right direction. Grade B+

Vanderbilt hasn't looked anywhere close to a team that can contend for a bowl. It lost to a bad UNLV team, a Wake Forest team that is a shell of its former self and hasn't been able to keep up against SEC opponents. The offense is rolling whether its AJ Swann or Ken Seals taking the snaps, however, which is something to build off of as the Commodores head to the second half of the season. Will this team notch another SEC win before the end of the season? If it gets a little bit of defense, it could. Grade: C-