I think we all saw that one coming, amirite?
After the slew of injuries that settled in on the Georgia Bulldogs over the last several weeks, anyone with football IQ, or a relative knowledge of team dynamics had to know that the Bulldogs were in for a fall. And who better to serve as the assassin than still-wet-behind-the-ears SEC newb Missouri, who, despite their unbeaten record, were thought to be the underdog heading into the showdown in Athens.
However, fate (read: "injuries" and "turnovers" ) worked to unseat the Dawgs from their presumed return visit to the SECCG this year, as they fell and fell hard to Mizzou by a score of 41-26. With Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall and a slew of offensive talent on the sideline, and some uncharacteristic mistakes from QB Aaron Murray, UGA just didn't have enough to get past the Tigers, even after starting Tiger QB James Franklin was injured. Their four turnovers didn't help matters either, as UGA struggled to get its high-powered offense off the ground.
Despite Franklin's injury, he managed to put up 170 yards passing and a touchdown in a respectable outing before being relieved by Maty Mauk, who played the rest of the game behind center for the Tigers. Murray threw for 290 yards with three touchdowns, but his two interceptions and fumble were too much for the Bulldogs to bear.
Missouri jumped out to an early lead, ahead by 18 at the half. UGA stormed back late, with Georgia cutting the lead to 28-26 in the fourth quarter. However, Mizzou's James Ponder stymied a UGA drive with an interception of Murray with a little over four minutes left in the game, and from there, the Tigers put the dagger in the heart of UGA's championship dreams for the season.
In the weekend's other game of consequence, the Florida Gators took their show on the road to another swamp to battle LSU in what figured to be a nasty interdivisional tie-up. While Florida has one of the leading defenses in the SEC, LSU's defense had been much maligned going into the game. The Bayou Bengals' D showed up in this game however, as the Tigers dead-rolled the Gators in a defensive slugfest, winning by a score of 17-6.
The game shaped up as a battle of defenses early. LSU has relied on its high-flying offense for most of the 2013 season, with QB Zack Mettenberger putting up tremendous numbers. However, Florida's potent defensive backfield held him in check on the day, limiting Mettenberger to 170 yards and no touchdowns through the air. Jeremy Hill was the Tigers' most effective offensive weapon of the day, as he amassed 121 yards rushing on 19 carries. Florida QB Tyler Murphy was pedestrian against an LSU defense that harassed him all day, completing 15 passes for 155 yards against a LSU defense that had struggled against the pass thus far in the season.
Florida jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, but LSU fought back to gain a 14-3 lead by the half. The Gators cut the lead to one score in the fourth quarter after a scoreless third, bringing the score to 14-6. The Tigers added on a FG to salt away the win and escape with a single blemish on their record for the season. Florida, meanwhile, suffered its first SEC loss of the year, after falling to ACC foe Miami early on.
In other news around the SEC...
- South Carolina got back Jadeveon Clowney this week, but all they really needed against Arkansas were QB Connor Shaw and RB Mike Davis, as the Gamecock's blew out the Razorhogs by a score of 52-7. Arkansas scored on its initial drive, then didn't sniff the end zone again. Shaw had 219 yards passing and three TDs to go along with one rushing TD. Davis once again proved himself a worthy heir to former ‘Cocks back Marcus Lattimore, rushing for 128 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown. A week after hanging the ‘Cocks out to dry with a supposedly "unannounced" game-time injury, Clowney only made one tackle in the game. But the remainder of the ‘Cock defense absolutely pounded the Hawg O, holding them to a mere 248 yards. Arky QB Brandon Allen was only allowed 30 yards passing, and the Hawgs tailbacks were all held to less than 100 yards rushing. Meanwhile, South Carolina piled up 537 yards on a struggling Arkansas defense. Happy Homecoming, Arkansas!
- Auburn used its win over Western Carolina (a team that, incidentally, has dropped 32 straight games to FBS and FCS opponents) to spring into the AP Top 25 this week, throttling the Catamounts (WTF is a Catamount?...someone please explain this to me...what does the Catamount say?) by a score of 62-3. The offensive production was a high-water mark for the Tigers, as they accumulated 712 yards of total offense with newcomer and true freshman QB Jeremy Johnson under center. Johnson threw for 207 yards with four TDs and one interception. RB Tre Mason had a field day as well with 100 yards and two TDs on only six totes. Cameron Artis-Payne also got in on the fun, rushing for 133 yards on seven carries with one TD. Not much else to say there....moving on.
- Mississippi State held on for a win over 5-2 Bowling Green in Starkville, winning a closely-contested 21-20 battle. Mississippi State jumped out to an early 14-3 lead, but the score was 21-13 at the half. Bowling Green made it close with a touchdown in the third, but the fourth became a defensive battle, as neither team could crack the other's defense. Bowling Green got the ball back with a chance to score late with four minutes remaining, but the Bulldog defense refused to give and Bowling Green never made it into field goal range. Hybrid RB/ QB Dak Prescott had a nice outing with 139 yards rushing and two TDs on 15 carries. QB Tyler Russell had 102 yards passing and a touchdown on the day.
- Ninth-ranked Texas A&M got a little more than it bargained for against a desperate Ole Miss team, though the Aggies won by a score of 41-38 thanks to the last minute heroics of one Johnny Football. The Aggi jumped out to an early 14-3 lead, but by the half the Rebel Black Bear Akbars had pulled to within four points by a score of 14-10. Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace and company kept attacking the weak Aggie defense, and had success en route to a 301 yard day passing for Wallace (with three TDs and one INT). JFF was injured in the first quarter, putting a scare into the aTm faithful, though he was able to return in time to orchestrate the game-winning drive after Ole Miss seized the 38-31 lead. Manziel didn't have his best day, turning over the ball twice, once on an interception in the end zone and the other on a fumble. However, despite missing time with the injury, he still put up 346 yards passing and 127 yards rushing with two TDs. While the Rebels gave it everything they could muster, JFF would just not be stopped en route to a victory.
- Alabama cruised despite itself early on, throttling a cellar-dwelling Kentucky team by a score of 48-7 (and it wasn't even as close as the scoreboard said). Bama looked uncharacteristically sloppy in the early going, moving the ball with ease against the Wildcat D. However, both running backs, T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake, fumbled in the red zone to stall early drives. The usually soft-handed Kenny Bell had an uncharacteristic drop to kill the Tide's first drive on a third down conversion attempt, and he dropped another pass later in the game. However, once the offense got going, they were unstoppable, scoring at will whether AJ McCarron or Blake Sims was running the offense throughout the night. McCarron had a fantastic night behind a resurgent offensive line, putting up 359 yards passing with one touchdown. His counterpart, Maxwell Smith, was limited to a mere 70 yards passing by the Tide defense after UK starting QB Jalen Whitlow was knocked out early. The Bama defense was oppressive, holding Kentucky to 170 yards of offense despite allowing their first touchdown in 14 quarters of play since the game in College Station earlier this year. Yeldon finished with 124 yards and two touchdowns, and Drake ended the night with 106 yards and two touchdowns. The game marked the first time in history that the Tide had a 300 yard passer and two 100 yard rushers. Freshman defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson continued to impress, posting two of the Tide's four sacks on the evening.
The schedule lines up for at least one pivotal match-up in the East this week, and several possible upset games elsewhere. Rest assured, the Tide will not be among the latter bunch, playing host to a Razorback team that has been wretched at best against quality opponents this year. However, the early game between #22 Florida and #14 Mizzou should be a great one, as both teams will be playing without the QB that started the season for their respective squads. That game could play a big part in deciding the East, so stay tuned. LSU @ Ole Miss should be competitive for a while, and many eyes will be on Auburn and their chance of an upset after watching the struggles of Texas A&M against Ole Miss this past weekend. Good football coming up, folks, enjoy.
SEC Week 6 Schedule
Time (CST) Matchup
11 a.m. #15 Georgia @ Vanderbilt
11 a.m. #11 South Carolina @ Tennessee
11:21 a.m. #22 Florida @ #14 Missouri
2:30 p.m. #24 Auburn @ #7 Texas A&M
6 p.m. #6 LSU @ Ole Miss
6 p.m. Arkansas @ #1 Alabama
SEC Teams in the AP Top 25
1. Alabama (55)
2. Oregon (5)
4. Ohio State
5. Florida State
7. Texas A&M
11. South Carolina
16. Texas Tech
17. Fresno State
19. Virginia Tech
21. Oklahoma State
23. Northern Illinois