It’s a bit of a rarity for the matchup in the SEC Championship to be set in stone when some teams in the conference still have two games left in conference. However, with Auburn’s and South Carolina’s wins this weekend, that’s exactly where we are. Since early October, we’ve had the Iron Bowl matchup between Auburn and Alabama circled on the calendar as the game of the season, but now, it has no impact on the SEC race.
However, it’s still a game that will help determine whether Auburn will play for the national championship. The other factors that will play a role in determining that will be the SEC title game and the NCAA, who could throw this whole thing into chaos if they rule that Cam Newton can’t play.
It’s still another couple weeks before the Auburn-Alabama matchup, along with a couple other interesting games. In the mean time, we have a weekend where three of the 12 teams in the SEC have byes and three play out of conference opponents. Arkansas-Mississippi State will end up being really the only intriguing game of the weekend, so consider making some plans to…gulp…watch other conferences this weekend.
#22 South Carolina 36 #24 Florida 14
Welp, I got that one wrong. Marcus Lattimore turned out to be as healthy (or at least as effective) as he has been all year and Steve Spurrier was not afraid to give him the rock. He rushed for 212 yards and three TD’s on 40 (FORTY) carries, outrushing the entire Florida team by a factor of six. Lattimore’s success meant that when the Gamecocks built a big lead, Spurrier didn’t have to put the hands of his mistake prone QB, Stephen Garcia.
Florida actually took the first lead in this one, returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown. After that, though, they didn’t get much done, much to the chagrin of Gator fans that aren’t accustomed to not being able to run the ball (35 yards on 20 carries) and not being able to convert third downs (2-14). Florida fell behind early and asked John Brantley, Jordan Reed, and Trey Burton to throw the ball a combined 39 times. It didn’t work. After looking like they had solved their offensive woes, Urban Meyer is once again left looking for answers.
#2 Auburn 49 Georgia 31
Auburn looked a little tight in falling behind 21-7 early, which is understandable given how much adversity they’ve dealt with the past 10 days. Eventually, they got in gear behind (who else?) Cam Newton, scoring 14 points in each of the last three quarters, looking relatively unstoppable in the process.
The scary thing was that I didn’t even think Georgia did all that bad of a job on defense. Limiting Cam Newton to five yards a carry is a pretty impressive accomplishment, but when it came down to it, Newton converted when he had to. There is just so much to deal with on Auburn’s offense that you are going to give up big plays from time to time. Your best hope is to force a couple turnovers and score almost every time you have the ball when you’re playing Auburn. I have to think that Alabama is as capable as any team in the country of pulling that off.
#11 Alabama 30 #17 Mississippi State 10
Speaking of Alabama, this has to be the Tide’s best performance since at least the Florida game, right? Playing without Trent Richardson, Alabama managed to find big plays in the air and on the ground against a defense that was playing at a very high level. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, couldn’t really get anything going, especially in the passing game. Alabama limited QB Chris Relf on the ground, which really closed off a lot of options for MSU. I’m convinced that Dan Mullen will make Mississippi State a perennial contender in the SEC, but he doesn’t have the talent just yet to beat a team like Alabama on the road without some luck.
Tennessee 52 Ole Miss 14
I think Vince Dooley found himself a quarterback. Tyler Bray completed barely half his passes, but with all the big plays he was creating for his receivers, the incompletions didn’t matter all that much. Bray threw for three touchdowns and 323 yards, while Jeremiah Masoli threw for just 80 and two touchdowns…unfortunately, both of his touchdowns were pick sixes.
Kentucky 38 Vanderbilt 20
#14 Arkansas 58 UTEP 21
UTEP kept pace for a little while, tying the score at 14 with a kickoff return TD, but Ryan Mallett and Knile Davis were way too much to handle. Mallett threw five touchdown passes, while Davis ran for 182 yards on just 11 carries. With the way the Razorbacks are playing, they are thinking BCS if they can beat Mississippi State and LSU to close the regular season.
#5 LSU 51 Louisiana-Monroe 0
Let me get this straight: LSU goes for well over 400 yards of offense against Alabama, but musters just 251 against Louisiana-Monroe??? The Tigers are fascinating. Their crappy QB’s combined for 8-22 passing for just 95 yards. Maybe the offense wasn’t great, but the defense sure was. LSU held the Warhawks to under 200 yards of offense, forced five turnovers, and scored two touchdowns by themselves.
1. #2 Auburn 11-0 (7-0) – Other than the Cam Newton stuff, they control their own destiny
2. #5 LSU 9-1 (6-1) – As I referenced before, I’m looking forward to LSU-Arkansas
3. #10 Alabama 8-2 (5-2) – Host Georgia State before post Thanksgiving feast against Auburn
4. #13 Arkansas 8-2 (4-2) – They are capable of beating anybody
5. #17 South Carolina 7-3 (4-3) – Giant win over Florida gives them a bump up
6. #22 Mississippi State 7-3 (3-3) – Doesn’t get any easier as they host Arkansas this week
7. Florida 6-4 (4-4) – Two out of conference games should be welcome finish after tough SEC
8. Georgia 5-6 (3-5) – Rivalry game against G-Tech will determine bowl eligibility
9. Kentucky 6-6 (2-5)
10. Tennessee 4-6 (1-5) – With Vandy and UK looming, three game win streak could close season
11. Ole Miss 4-6 (1-5) – Not looking like the whole Masoli thing was worth the trouble
12. Vanderbilt 2-8 (1-6) – It’s officially basketball season in Nashville
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