It’s hard to believe, but we’re already through the ninth week of the college football season. The top two teams in the country and the conference, LSU and Alabama had byes, and were likely busy preparing for next weekend’s huge showdown. Every other SEC team played a conference game, and the annual game between Georgia and Florida, also known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, took place this weekend on the neutral field in Jacksonville. Mississippi State got their first conference win this weekend, against struggling Kentucky, but UK, Ole Miss, and Tennessee remain winless in the SEC. Read on for your Week Nine recaps, stats, and commentary.
(10) Arkansas at Vanderbilt
The WLOCP would traditionally be the biggest game of the week on paper, but this one was almost bigger in real life. Vandy came close to pulling off a big upset, but missed what would have been the game-tying field goal with only 12 seconds left, giving the Razorbacks a 31-28 win. Arkansas was down by as many as 14 points in the first half, but they found a way to rally, tie the game more than once, and finally take a lead. The Commodores had an opportunity to put points on the board early in the fourth quarter, but running back Zac Stacy fumbled at the UA 5-yard line, and the Hogs not only recovered, but returned the ball all the way to the endzone and completed a two-point conversion, to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Arkansas managed only 72 yards on the ground, but they had 388 total yards and 22 first downs. Vandy had more total yardage (462) and much more of a balance between the running and passing games, but fewer first downs (19). Razorbacks QB Tyler Wilson was 27 of 43 for 316 yards, a TD, and no picks, and backup QB Brandon Mitchell ran for a touchdown. Dores QB Jordan Rodgers, younger brother of the Packers’ Aaron, was 15 of 27 for 240 yards, a TD, and no interceptions. Both teams did turn the ball over more than once, but it was impressive to see the lack of interceptions. Even though they won the game, the Razorbacks lost special teams player Marquel Wade, who was ejected from the game after a dirty hit on Jonathan Krause. Wade leveled Krause, who had called for a fair catch, and then seemed to celebrate the hit. Watch the video here. Side note: Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler were both at the game cheering for Vandy, Aaron for his brother and Jay for his alma mater. I’m sure it’s the only time they’ll ever cheer for the same team.
Arkansas improves to 7-1 overall and 3-1 in the SEC. They’ll be home next weekend to face South Carolina. Vanderbilt falls to 4-4 on the season and 1-4 in conference play. They’ll travel to Gainesville next weekend to play Florida.(
(22) Georgia vs. Florida
The WLOCP is often a game of high-powered offenses and defenses for both teams. That was not the case yesterday, as a struggling Gators team lost 24-20 to the Bulldogs, giving UF their fourth loss in a row this season, thus eliminating them from the division race, and keeping UGA tied with South Carolina for first place in the East. Florida led for most of the game, as Georgia made mistakes like letting UF score a touchdown on a fourth-and-19 play, giving up a 99-yard kickoff return, missing two field goals and somehow getting a ball to bounce off a running back’s helmet for an interception. The Dawgs also made some gutsy plays, though, like going for it on 4th-and-5 right before the half. That play resulted in a touchdown. QB Aaron Murray also threw a jump ball in the third quarter than resulted in a TD. The Bulldogs also controlled the ball for almost 38 minutes. As for the Gators, they just couldn’t get much going on either side of the ball, despite having a lead for most of the game. They only managed 11 first downs, had -19 yards rushing, were successful on just two of their 13 third down conversions, and committed 14 penalties for over 100 yards. QB John Brantley, returning from injury, was clearly not 100%, though he managed to complete 12 of 34 passes for 245 yards and a touchdown. His UGA counterpart, Aaron Murray, was 15 of 34 for 169 yards, two TDs, and a pick. The Gators’ leading rushers, Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, were held to five carries for 26 yards and eight carries for 12 yards, respectively. Florida fans weren’t the only ones disappointed by the outcome of this game – South Carolina fans had been hoping for UF to upset the Dawgs, which would have given the Gamecocks sole possession of first place in the East. USC does own the tiebreaker over UGA, but some breathing room would have been nice.
Florida drops to 4-4 overall and 2-4 in the conference. They’ll be home next weekend to face off against Vanderbilt. Georgia is now 6-2 on the season and 5-1 in SEC play. They’ll be home next weekend to play a non-conference game against New Mexico State.
Ole Miss at (23) Auburn
It’s beginning to look more and more like Ole Miss might not win a conference game this season. The Rebels were tied with the Tigers at half time, but they gave up four scores to the Tigers before ending the game with a TD of their own. It wasn’t enough, though, and they dropped their 11th straight conference game. Auburn QB Clint Moseley, in his second-ever start, completed 12 of his 15 passes and threw for 160 yards and four touchdowns. Those TDs were his first four ever in his career. The Tigers also had leading WR Emory Blake back after he’d missed the past three games with an ankle injury, and he had five receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown. Michael Dyer, Auburn’s leading rusher, had 27 carries for 177 yards and a score. The two teams were pretty even on the stats sheet, but Ole Miss continues to be their own worst enemy. They allowed the Tigers to rack up 141 yards of offense in the third quarter, while only gaining 22 yards themselves, and as their defense fell apart, Auburn’s offense capitalized. The best thing to happen all day for the Rebs was the game-ending touchdown, which, while it didn’t matter to the score, was positive in that it came from a recovered Tigers fumble. Houston Nutt’s seat continues to get hotter, as Ole Miss hasn’t won a game since they played Fresno State on October 1st, and their only other win this season came against BYU. They still have one out-of-conference game left, a home game against Louisiana Tech. They also have to play LSU (in Oxford) and two other bottom-dwellers, Kentucky and Mississippi State (both on the road). Kentucky is straight up hapless, so that’s their best shot at winning a conference game. Both teams will go into that game winless in the SEC, so it’ll really be a battle for who’s the worst of the worst.
Ole Miss falls to 2-6 overall and 0-5 in the conference. They’ll head to Lexington next weekend to play against Kentucky. Auburn improves to 6-3 on the season and 4-2 in SEC play. They’ll be off next weekend and will take on Georgia November 12th in Athens.
Mississippi State at Kentucky
Like I said, much like Ole Miss, Kentucky may not win an SEC game this year. Before this game, Mississippi State was winless in the conference, but they got their first victory yesterday, winning 28-16 over this disaster of a Wildcats team. Unable to find consistency with either Chris Relf or Tyler Russell, the Bulldogs went with a two-man approach under center, and both QBs combined for 264 yards and a touchdown a piece. Russell also ran for two scores, and was the official starter. Morgan Newton, UK’s quarterback, injured his ankle early on and did not return. His replacement, freshman Max Smith, was 26 of 33 for 174 yards, no TDs, and no picks. Vick Ballard had 18 carries for 90 yards to lead the Bulldogs, though he didn’t score. The Wildcats’ top rusher was CoShik Williams, who had 15 carries for 64 yards. The teams were fairly even on the stats sheet, but Kentucky had no turnovers, while MSU had three. Luckily for the Bulldogs, the Wildcats were only able to turn two of them into scores, and they were field goals both times. UK also converted nine third downs to MSU’s four, and had possession of the ball for 37 minutes, compared to Mississippi State’s 23, yet they still couldn’t put a game in the W column. As I mentioned earlier, Kentucky will play Ole Miss next weekend in a battle of the winless. After that game, though, I think the Wildcats will be the only ones still without a win. As bad as the Rebels have been, UK might be just a bit worse. Ole Miss has dropped a non-conference game and Kentucky hasn’t, but the Cats have also looked like they didn’t even have a chance in most of their conference games, while Ole Miss has at least been close for a while in a couple of them.
Mississippi State is now 4-4 overall and 1-4 in the conference. They’ll be at home to face off against Tennessee-Martin in an out-of-conference game next weekend. Kentucky drops to 3-5 on the season and 0-4 in SEC play. They’ll be home for the game against Ole Miss next weekend.
For Cocky Country’s full recap of the (14) South Carolina at Tennessee game, click here.