How did the SEC East turn into such a wasteland all of a sudden? It looked like South Carolina was the rightful heir to Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee’s throne, but a loss in Lexington put that in jeopardy. USC still controls its own destiny, but with Georgia holding serve against Tennessee, Vandy, and UK, the Bulldogs have bounced back from an 0-3 SEC start to get within a half game of first place.
With three of the SEC’s six ranked teams on bye next week, Georgia-Florida, a matchup of two teams with three SEC losses, takes center stage. Anything can happen this year in the SEC East, but you have to figure this is an elimination game.
That’s jumping ahead a bit though, because we still have to talk about what happened on Saturday.
#5 Auburn 24 #6 LSU 17
Those of us that thought LSU would be in over its head on the road against one of the nation’s top offense were proved wrong by Les Miles and company yet again. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the outcome came down to a gamble by the Mad Hatter himself, as LSU tried to convert a fourth and six in their own territory. Jarrett Lee, on a play rife with confusions, tried to scramble for the first, but was stopped well short.
LSU’s superb defense did little to slow down Auburn’s potent attack, allowing a stunning 440 yards on the ground. Cam Newton rushed for 217 yards and two TD’s, including one 49 yard burst that is sure to be shown a time or two during the Heisman ceremony in December whether Newton wins or not. LSU’s defense did just enough when it really mattered to keep themselves in the game, forcing a couple field goal attempts and making one fourth down stop.
On offense, LSU was able to move the ball sparingly thanks to the legs of Jordan Jefferson and a couple trick plays, including a 39 yard TD pass by freshman running back Spencer Ware…maybe they should try him at QB.
#7 Alabama 41 Tennessee 10
This game was reminiscent of Oregon’s win over UT earlier this year, minus the delay for a stadium rocking thunderstorm. Tennessee stayed in the game during the first half, actually down only 13-10 at halftime before Julio Jones,Trent Richardson, and Mark Ingram pounded them into submission with a 31 point second half.
Jones had arguably the best game of his college career, catching 12 balls for 221 yards. He didn’t snag a TD, but Richardson and Ingram had four between them on the Tide’s first four second half drives. The last was a pass caught by Richardson from redshirt freshman AJ McCarron in a bit of a preview of coming attractions.
#21 Arkansas 38 Ole Miss 24
Arkansas lost Ryan Mallett and two of its top receivers to injury, but rode running back Knile Davis and its previously SEC worst rushing attack to a win. Davis ran for 176 yards and three TD’s, including a 22 yarder in the fourth quarter after Ole Miss had scored to close within seven.
Jeremiah Masoli led the Rebel attack to its best offensive performance of the year, going for 512 yards. However, two turnovers and an inability to convert third downs (4-17) were their undoing.
Georgia 46 Kentucky 31
#19 South Carolina 21 Vanderbilt 7
Vandy, in spite of being outgained by nearly 250 yards, managed to hang around during this Homecoming game. Like I said on Friday though, USC’s big wide receivers were a little too much to handle. Tori Gurley and Alshon Jeffery combined for 22 catches, 267 yards, and two touchdowns, including Jeffery’s 72 yard fourth quarter TD that put this one out of reach.
Vandy ran into a familiar problem, falling behind and trying to throw the ball, but to no avail. Larry Smith is a decent athlete, but he lacks the accuracy needed to be an SEC QB, or maybe even a MAC QB. He was 13-31 for 142 yards and a rating of barely 80. That’s not going to win you many games.
#24 Mississippi State 29 UAB 24
MSU kicker Derek DePasquale was 5-5 on field goals, including two in the last 7:15 that gave the newly ranked Bulldogs the W. However, it was the very fact that Mississippi State settled for so many field goals that made this one so close. All of the field goals made were from 43 yards or less. UAB lost three fumbles, severely hurting their upset bid.
The Bulldogs are already bowl eligible and host Kentucky next week. Dan Mullen’s bunch is dreaming about a January bowl game and next week will be a crucial game in that quest.
1. #3 Auburn 8-0 (5-0) – Tigers are third in human polls, but #1 in BCS
2. #6 Alabama 7-1 (4-1) – Bye this week before three games against ranked opponents in last four, including Iron Bowl
3. #12 LSU 7-1 (4-1) – Tigers host Alabama under the lights on 11/6 after bye
4. #19 Arkansas 5-2 (2-2) – Welcome visit from Vandy should allow Mallett to rest bruised shoulder
5. #17 South Carolina 5-2 (3-2) – Hosting Tennessee should send them to 6-2 with Arkansas looming
6. #23 Mississippi State 6-2 (2-2) – Not always pretty, but they keep winning
7. Georgia 4-4 (3-3) – This is a team that’s putting it together
8. Florida 4-3 (2-3) – Coming off bye week, have to figure they’ll be ready for UGA
9. Ole Miss 3-4 (1-3) – With three ranked opponents in last five, bowl eligibility will be a challenge
10. Kentucky 4-4 (1-4)
11. Vanderbilt 2-5 (1-3) – Incapable offense doesn’t allow them to do much of anything
12. Tennessee 2-5 (0-4) – It’s fun putting them in last