Let's face it...the last weekend was one of the weakest on the calendar where the SEC is concerned. While powerhouse Alabama and LSU were enjoying a bye and preparing for the "Throwdown in T'Town" this Saturday, only the watered down cocktail that is the annual UGA-UF face-off could draw an inkling of attention. The remainder of the calendar featured several massacres against undermanned teams, SEC or not.
Back to the infamous World's Biggest Cocktail Party, Florida fans likely availed themselves of the game's namesake beverage following the third consecutive defeat of the Gators at the hands of Georgia. The Bulldogs leapt out to an early lead thanks to their re-load offense and held on to it down the stretch thanks to the offensive ineptitude by Florida through most of the game.
That doesn't mean that Florida didn't make a game of it in the second half after falling behind 20-0 minutes into the second quarter. In Todd Gurley's return from a troubling injury sustained several games ago, the star tailback had an impressive performance against the traditionally stout Florida defense. Both teams have been ravaged by injuries this year, but Gurley's return breathed new life into the Aaron Murray-led Dawg offense. Gurley accounted for two touchdowns, one on the ground and one through the air, en route to a 100 yard rushing performance on the day. Murray also had a good outing, recording 258 yards passing with the TD to Gurley and no INTs.
Tyler Murphy's fortunes were somewhat....different. Murphy's stat line was not impressive, as he only put up 174 yards with no touchdowns. However, he engineered the second half comeback against Georgia after the Bulldog offense stagnated in the second half, scoring no points in the latter chapter of the game. Ultimately, the Gators just couldn't get enough going offensively to outlast the struggling Georgia offense, and the Bulldogs walked away with a three point victory.
In other SEC action...
- South Carolina got a strong showing defensively despite some troubling developments on offense as the ‘Cocks beat the Bulldogs by a score of 34-16. The game was tight early on, as the Bulldog offense, led by dual-threat quarterback Dak Prescott, was able to move the ball against the South Carolina D. The Gamecocks had a one score lead heading into the half, leading 17-10. However, after emerging from the half, the Cocks' had Mississippi State's number, as Connor Shaw and tailback Mike Davis lit the SC offense to life. Though Shaw only passed for 147 yards, he added to that total four touchdowns. Davis was the workhorse of the Carolina offense, putting up a healthy 128 yards rushing to go over 1,000 yards on the season. For Mississippi State, Prescott was dynamic both running and passing, amassing 235 yards passing with three INTs and 78 yards rushing with two TDs.
- Ninth-ranked Auburn continued its recent unbeaten streak with a 35-17 throttling of Bret Bielema's Razorbacks in a bit of a grudge match after some yaw-yawing throughout game week. Tre Mason was the difference in the game for the Tigers, as the tailback posted 168 yards on 32 carries with four TDs. Quarterback Nick Marshall was not called upon to do much to power the Auburn offense, and he finished with 118 yards passing and a touchdown. Arkansas was responsible for much of its undoing with three turnovers, and Brandon Allen posted only 112 yards passing in the game. As has been the Hawg MO for most of the season, Arkansas leaned heavily on their young running backs, with sophomore Jonathan Williams picking up 104 yards and Alex Collins nearly breaking the century mark at 92 yards rushing. And I'd be wrong if I didn't mention it, but prayers y'all for Auburn LB Anthony Swain, who was injured seriously by forces beyond the realm of mortal man. (In an act of wizardry that would make Harry Potter smile, the RazorHawg hoodoo squad placed a hex on Swain that caused him to spontaneously drop to the turf and cringe in agony while grabbing his knee. Keep Swain in your thoughts people, injuries are no joke, y'all.)
- The eighth-ranked Missouri Tigers continued their winning ways and worked towards seizing the SEC East with a 31-3 romp over hapless Tennessee. Maty Mauk was the Tigers' sparkplug on the day, showing his dual-threat capabilities with 163 yards and three TDs passing and 114 yards rushing. Josh Dobbs got meaningful experience in the absence of injured Vol starter Justin Worley, and he acquitted himself well with 240 yards passing. Dobbs was responsible for two interceptions, and he was also the Vols' leading rusher with 45 yards. The game was all but over early as Mizzou jumped out to a 23-3 lead at the half and never looked back, while the Vols were unable to penetrate the end zone throughout the game.
- Kentucky got its second win of the season with a 48-14 trouncing of SWAC contender Alabama State. The performance came largely at the hands of a spectacular outing by Jalen Whitlow at quarterback, as he put up 186 yards passing with two TDs in addition to 101 yards rushing with two TDs. The win over ASU broke a five game losing streak for the Wildcats, who have largely limped towards season's end in Coach Mark Stoops first year at the helm.
- Johnny Football showed once again why he is considered a top-three candidate for the Heisman trophy again this year, as he rallied the Aggies from an early deficit to score 55 unanswered points en route to the destruction of UTEP. After UTEP scored a touchdown early in the first, Manziel verbally sparked his offense on the sideline and went on to lead the team in a six touchdown performance. Four of Manziel's touchdowns came through the air in a 273 yard passing effort, but as Senor Football is prone to do, he also added 67 yards and two rushing touchdowns to the box score. The game was truly uncontested after the initial few minutes, as the Aggies went on to steam-roll the outmanned UTEP squad.
While the East remains in contention, the West has come down to two teams who realistically have a chance at winning the division: Alabama and Auburn. While Alabama must clear its biggest hurdle in recent weeks against the 13th ranked LSU Tigers, the Tigers will be on upset alert against a game Vol team playing at Neyland Stadium. Regardless of the respective outcomes of this week's games, the Tide and Tigers will meet in the final week of the regular season for all of the marbles and a trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. Stay tuned....
SEC Week 10 Schedule
Time (CST) Matchup
11:00 a.m. Vanderbilt @ Florida
11:00 a.m. #9 Auburn @ Tennessee
11:00 a.m. #8 Missouri @ Kentucky
11:21 a.m. Arkansas @ Ole Miss
11:30 a.m. Appalachian State @ Georgia
2:30 p.m. Mississippi State @ #15 Texas A&M
7 p.m. #13 LSU @ #1Alabama
SEC Teams in the BCS Top 25
2. Florida State
4. Ohio State
12. South Carolina
14. Oklahoma State
15. Texas A&M
16. Fresno State
17. Michigan State
18. Northern Illinois
22. Arizona State
23. Notre Dame
25. Texas Tech