There was a bit of a scarcity of big time SEC matchups this weekend. Two of the top three teams had byes and for the first time since early in the season, there was no game between two ranked opponents.
I didn’t dare call it a boring weekend on Friday, but outside of an overtime affair between Florida and Georgia, it turned out to be just that. Each and every game went according to script and only the outcome of UK-Mississippi State was in doubt late.
While it may not have been too exciting, it set the table for a fascinating final third of the season. With all the favorites prevailing, we have an absolute wealth of meaningful SEC games in November.
Next week, Alabama and LSU will go head to head in an SEC West matchup that has conference and national title implications. Arkansas-South Carolina will have second billing.
The following week, South Carolina and Florida will play in a game that will almost certainly decide the SEC East title, while Mississippi State will have a chance pull a stunner against Alabama.
In three weeks, it’s the Iron Bowl. If Alabama and Auburn hold serve up to that point, the game will essentially amount to a national title playoff, as both teams will be ranked in the top five. Everybody loves football on Thanksgiving, but real football lovers will be waiting until the day after Turkey Day for the game of the year in the NCAA.
This is going to be a fantastic finish to the season.
Florida 34 Georgia 31 (OT)
What a fourth quarter. Florida had a 21-10 lead entering the fourth, but Georgia tied it with touchdowns on its first two drives, sandwiched around a Florida field goal. Florida answered quickly with a long Trey Burton rushing TD, then AJ Green tied it with only his fourth catch of the game. In overtime, Will Hill nearly ended it with an interception return all the way to within a yard of the goal line, but Chas Henry ended up doing the honors with a field goal.
Florida used their bye week before this one to install a new offense in which Jeff Brantley and Trey Burton shared snaps under center. It worked like a charm in a 21 point second quarter, but Georgia did not back down. Aaron Murray completed under 50% of his passes and threw three picks, but he found Orson Charles and Tavarres King down field en route to a 300 yard day.
Florida was just a bit too much on the ground. With Chris Rainey back after previously being kicked off the team and Burton looking great running it, the Gators amassed 231 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
#3 Auburn 51 Ole Miss 31
This one played out pretty much exactly like we expected. Ole Miss could simply not stop Auburn’s offense, while Auburn was able to stop Ole Miss on occasion. Cam Newton wasn’t the terror on the ground he has been most of the year, but Michael Dyer was, rushing for 180 yards on 21 carries. Newton was coldly efficient through the air, completing 75% of his passes for over 200 yards, two TD’s, and no interceptions. It’s just amazing to me that a guy who touches the ball as much as he does takes care of the pigskin so well.
Newton’s best play of the day wasn’t a pass or a run. He made a phenomenal 20 yard touchdown reception in good coverage in the corner of the end zone. I’m pretty sure he could play quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, defensive end, linebacker, corner back, or safety if he wanted to. I’ve never seen him put his foot to a ball, but he could probably punt and place kick too.
#17 South Carolina 38 Tennessee 24
The Vols did it again, playing a superior team to a draw in the first half (10-10), before falling apart in the second.
Actually, in this one, Tennessee hung around even longer than against Oregon and Alabama. After falling behind 24-10, they scored touchdowns to tie the game early in the fourth quarter, but Alshon Jeffery scored on a 70 yard catch and run pretty much immediately. A long TD on their following possession put this one out of reach.
UT had two QB’s throw for over 150 yards in this one, most which came on completions to Denarius Moore. Moore had a ridiculous 228 yards on just six catches, which should give the Ball Coach plenty to talk about this week.
#19 Arkansas 49 Vanderbilt 14
Vanderbilt actually led 14-6 after the first quarter, but from there on out, it was all Razorbacks in a big way. Listen to this: Vandy had 140 yards and 14 points on its two first quarter drives; for the remainder of the game, Vandy gained 13 yards on 34 plays and not a single first down. Wow. Did Bobby Petrino go with this speech to his defense during the first quarter break?
1. Auburn 9-0 (6-0) – Non-conference game vs. Chattanooga before finales vs. UGA and @ ‘Bama
2. Alabama 7-1 (4-1) – They’ve got tough ones (LSU and Mississippi State) before Auburn, upset would not shock me
3. LSU 7-1 (4-1) – You just know the ‘Bama game next week will come down to some Les Miles craziness
4. Arkansas 6-2 (3-2) – They need to get healthy for three games against ranked opponents in last four
5. South Carolina 6-2 (4-2) – Ironic that Spurrier’s SEC East title quest will come down to Florida matchup
6. Mississippi State 7-2 (3-2) – Not always pretty, but they get it done
7. Florida 5-3 (3-3) – Will new look offense propel them to another East title?
8. Georgia 4-5 (3-4) – Trip to Auburn in two weeks may be Richt’s last stand
9. Ole Miss 3-5 (1-4) – Offense is putting it together, but defense is porous (395.8 YPG)
10. Kentucky 4-5 (1-5)
11. Tennessee 2-6 (0-5) – Will they avoid an SEC bagel against UK or Vandy?
12. Vanderbilt 2-6 (1-4) – Unspeakably bad offense. I think the Bears would gladly give Jay Cutler back to them.