Welcome to your one-stop shop for what went down in SEC football this weekend. Week Ten (can you believe how far along we are?) saw some non-conference games as well as the so-called “Game of the Century”, though it didn’t quite live up to its billing. Auburn was off this week, but everyone will play next weekend, and most will be conference games. There is now only one team that’s still winless in conference play – Ole Miss, who actually may stay winless in the SEC. Keep reading for recaps of, stats from, and commentary on each of this weekend’s games.
Thanks to Jeff Demps’ career day, the Gators snapped their four game losing streak and beat Vandy 26-21 Saturday in Gainesville. Demps ran for 158 yards and two touchdowns and was the best thing UF had going all day. QB John Brantley was 16 of 24 for 173 yards, no scores, and no picks, but he injured his shoulder late in the game and was replaced by Jacoby Brissett. The Gators are the most penalized team in the country, but they were only flagged three times yesterday, while the Commodores were called for 12 penalties. Those errors might not have cost Vanderbilt the game entirely, but they certainly didn’t help. Florida did miss a field goal and fumble on the goal line, or they might have won by more. After a scoreless first quarter on both sides, the Gators put up three scores and took a 17-0 lead into halftime. The Dores rallied in the second half, but it was never enough to take the lead. While UF got their run game going, the Commodores couldn’t do the same, and had only 80 total rushing yards. They also had only 18 first downs to Florida’s 27. After starting out 3-0, Vanderbilt has lost five of their last six games. There is one bright spot for Vandy, though – their QB play. Jordan Rodgers (yes, the brother of Aaron) has improved over the past few weeks and seems to have settled in as the starter. He completed 19 of 28 passes for almost 300 yards and two TDs in the loss Saturday.
Vanderbilt drops to 4-5 overall and 1-5 in the SEC. They’ll be home next weekend to take on Kentucky, who also has only one conference win (more on that later). Florida improves to 5-4 on the season and 3-4 in conference play. They’ll travel to Columbia to face off against South Carolina.
(18) Georgia vs. New Mexico State
Georgia was without suspended starters Isaiah Crowell, Carlton Thomas, and Ken Malcolme, but it didn’t seem to matter as they crushed the Aggies 63-16 Saturday afternoon. The Dawgs put up 42 points (42!) in the second quarter to take a 42-3 lead into the half, and if the Aggies had hopped on a plane back to Las Cruces, I wouldn’t have blamed them. UGA QB Aaron Murray threw five touchdowns in that second quarter scoring fest, and was an impressive 18 for 23 for 238 yards on the day. He was replaced in the second half by second-stringer Hutson Mason, who completed 8 of 10 passes for 131 yards and a TD. Nine different Bulldogs scored a touchdown, and the team had almost 630 total yards. They committed only one penalty, turned the ball over once, and had 29 first downs. NMSU, however, was far less lucky. While they gained just over 400 total yards, they also turned over the ball three times and were overmatched in every way. They also lost their starting QB, Matt Christian, to an undisclosed injury. He was injured while trying to make a tackle after he was picked off. So, the Aggies went over 1,500 miles to get blown out and lost their starter under center. I’m sure they were thrilled.
Georgia is now 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the SEC. They’ll be home next weekend to host Auburn.
When I saw this game was on the schedule for yesterday, I thought to myself, “Self, that’ll sure be a barnburner!” (/sarcasm). In all seriousness, though, I did think Ole Miss would come out victorious. I was wrong. Kentucky defeated the Rebels 30-13, giving them their first SEC win and keeping Ole Miss winless in the conference. The Wildcats didn’t even have their usual starting QB, Morgan Newton, because he was injured in last week’s game against Mississippi State. His replacement, Maxwell Smith, was 19 of 36 for 283 yards and two TDs. UK had a 10-6 lead at the half, though they could have had even more points if they had been able to reach the red zone and/or hadn’t missed a field goal. CoShik Williams, who has been a strong player for the Wildcats the past few weeks, had 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Ole Miss was on the board first, but they scored only once in the second half, while allowing the Cats to get 21 unanswered points. The teams were pretty even on the stats sheet, except for penalties. UK had only five, while Mississippi had 11. This loss all but guaranteed that Houston Nutt will not be coaching the Rebels next season. While he had 9-4 seasons in his first two years, the Gamecocks handed his then-No. 4 team a huge upset in 2009, and last year’s team was an abysmal 4-8 and only 1-7 in conference play. Houston, you have a problem. Or perhaps, more accurately, Houston, you are a problem.
Ole Miss falls to 2-7 on the season and 0-6 in conference play. They’ll be home next weekend to play Louisiana Tech. Kentucky improves to 4-5 overall and 1-4 in the SEC. They’ll travel to Nashville to face off against fellow one-SEC-win team Vanderbilt.
Tennessee vs. Middle Tennessee State
After four straight conference losses, this non-SEC game came at a perfect time for the Vols. They rolled to a 24-0 shutout win on homecoming, and hopefully found some confidence along the way. Freshman QB Justin Worley, making his second straight start, completed 23 of 32 passes for 291 yards, a TD (his first ever), and no picks, much better than he was last weekend against South Carolina. Da’Rick Rogers led UT in receiving with 9 receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown, while Tauren Poole ran for two touchdowns of his own. In a strange twist, UT was without its first and second string kickers, who were both sidelined with leg injuries. The Volunteers were up 24-0 at halftime, a score that clearly lasted for the rest of the game. I didn’t see the second half, but it had to be painful. UT finished with 411 total yards, 22 first downs, and a little over 39 minutes of possession. Middle Tennessee had 230 yards, 13 first downs, and only just over 20 minutes of possession. The Blue Raiders really weren’t able to get much of anything going, and had to punt seven times, turned the ball over on downs twice, and fumbled once.
Tennessee is now 4-5 on the season and still 0-5 in conference play. They’ll travel to Fayetteville to take on the Razorbacks next weekend.
Mississippi State vs. Tennessee-Martin
This game was never really in reach for the Skyhawks, who were defeated 55-17 by the Bulldogs. Much like Tennessee, MSU has struggled in the conference so far this season, so hopefully this win, even though it wasn’t an SEC game, can provide them with confidence they can build on going forward. The Bulldogs went up 21-o in the first quarter and never looked back, taking a 28-7 lead into halftime. Mississippi State rolled up 570 yards of offense, and RB Vick Ballard had his fourth 100 yard game this season and had two TDs. MSU utilized both Chris Relf and Tyler Russell under center, and they combined to go 14 of 24 for 244 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. Third-string QB Dylan Favre (yes, Brett’s nephew) added a touchdown of his own late in the game. The Bulldogs missed a two-point conversion and Tennessee-Martin missed a field goal, but those points would have been negligible by the end of the game. Skyhawks RB Kenny Jones was responsible for both of their touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving. T-M also had control of the ball for about 10 minutes more than MSU did, but they didn’t have much like starting or sustaining drives.
Mississippi State improves to 5-4 overall and 1-4 in the SEC. They’ll be home next weekend against Alabama.
This game was billed for weeks as the “GAME OF THE CENTURY!!!”, and it was, if you like lots of defense, missed field goals, and not a lot of scoring. The Tigers rolled into Tuscaloosa and then barely rolled over the Tide, coming away with a 9-6 overtime win. Alabama could have been up 9-0 in the second quarter, but kicker Jeremy Shelley missed three straight field goals – two were just bad kicks and one was blocked. With a little less than four minutes remaining in the half, though, Shelley was finally successful and Bama took a 3-0 lead. LSU tied it up as time expired, and fans who had predicted a high scoring game started looking stupid. The thrilling second half featured each team again getting one field goal, thus making the game 6-6 after 60 minutes of play. Then came overtime, where – shockingly – Alabama missed another field goal, this time a crazy 52-yarder attempted by Cade Foster. The Tigers appeared to score a touchdown on their drive, but it wasn’t called as one. No matter, though, because they kicked a field goal, made it, and came out on top. Crimson Tide students were seen crying in the stands, while the purple and gold-clad fans and team celebrated. Interceptions and good defense were the story of the game, as were the missed points. Even though I didn’t expect this game to be super high scoring, I was anticipating at least one touchdown. So did this game live up to the hype? Probably not, but the hype was too much, even for a game with the importance that this one had. Sure, it was the top two teams in the country, but it wasn’t even a very exciting game to watch. Maybe next century.
LSU is now 9-0 on the season and 6-0 in conference play. They’ll be home to play Western Kentucky next weekend. Alabama drops to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the SEC. They’ll head to Starkville to face off against Mississippi State next weekend.
For a complete recap of the No. 7/8 Arkansas vs. No. 9/10 South Carolina game, click here.