Missouri and Auburn continued to make cases for the SEC Championship this past weekend with convincing wins over Tennessee and Arkansas, respectively. Both teams control their own destiny and both rolled by showcasing a dominant ground game.
Missouri ran for 339 yards, the most it has had since Week 1 and was led by quarterback Maty Mauk’s 114 yards. Tre Mason had four rushing touchdowns on a career high 32 carries for Auburn as the Tigers dominated the Razorbacks 35-17.
The fact of the matter is both these teams have been a surprise and both coaches are worthy of Coach of the Year mention in the conference. They both also have one huge game left against top 10 opponents to win their respective divisions. Missouri must host Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel while Auburn will host two-time defending champion and No. 1 Alabama. Those two games are the final games of the regular-season schedule.
Florida and Georgia played a game that was the tale of two halves. The Dogs jumped all over the Gators 23-3 in the first half behind Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley. Florida played with more emotion in the second half and scored 17 unanswered points before allowing Georgia to run out the final eight minutes of the game on a 15 play drive behind Murray and Gurley.
I thought Georgia lost its fire at halftime and got too cute on offense in the second half. For example: 1) A throwback to the tight end inside Georgia’s own 20-yard line, 2) Throwing off the 2-yard line and giving up a safety, 3) Going for it on fourth-and-1 at midfield. The third mistake didn’t hurt them and they eventually won the game.
Florida missed two field goals and had several costly penalties. One penalty took the first field goal from a chip shot to a miss; the second erased a third-down conversion that would have given UF the ball at Georgia’s 15-yard line. The final one took Florida back into its own territory after it stopped Georgia on fourth-and-1.
The bottom line is the Dogs were more disciplined than the Gators and they live to see another day in the SEC East.
Connor Shaw threw four touchdown passes to pace South Carolina over Mississippi State and continue its hopes in the East. South Carolina has won 15 in a row at home and now has a bye week before completing its conference schedule against Florida. Shaw has 23 wins as a starter, one shy of the all-time record held by Todd Ellis.
Kentucky got its second win of the season over Alabama State, 48-14, behind Jaylen Whitlow’s four touchdowns. Whitlow ran for 101 yards and threw for 186 as the Wildcats cruised. It was one of the best defensive performances by the Wildcats as they snapped Alabama State’s six-game win streak by holding the Hornets to 297 yards and forcing five fumbles.
Texas A&M cruised, 57-7, over UTEP behind Johnny Manziel’s six touchdowns in three quarters of action. Manziel is averaging two yards more per passing attempt this season than when he won the Heisman last year. He is also running five times per game less than he did one season ago. This is the reason he already has 26 touchdown passes, the same amount he had last season. Overall he accounted for 47 touchdowns in 2012 and he has 34 right now with three regular-season games left to play.
Arkansas lost to Auburn, but defensive end Chris Smith did register a sack, the 20th in his career. Jonathan Williams had his fourth 100-yard game of the season, while Korliss Marshall’s 87-yard kickoff return was the longest since 2011.
Mississippi State lost five turnovers on the road at Columbia and fell to 4-4 with the loss to South Carolina. The Bulldogs had two rushing touchdowns pushing their season total to 20, two more than the entire season in 2012. Dak Prescott did have his fourth 200-yard passing game of his career, but his mistakes proved costly for the Bulldogs. The five turnovers were the most since 2011, but one bright spot was the defense did hold South Carolina to 1-for-11 on third down.
Tennessee’s loss was the first for Joshua Dobbs as a starting quarterback for the Vols. He completed 26 passes, the most by a true freshman since 2010. Pig Howard’s 11 receptions were also a career high. The three points were the lowest by the Volunteers since 2011 against South Carolina.
This and That
LSU visits Alabama trying to wreck the Tide’s title dreams. This game will be in prime time and both programs had the past week off to prepare. Look for AJ McCarron to test the LSU secondary early and take some shots on first down. The Tigers must keep Jeremy Hill in the game plan, but they too must test the Tide secondary that gave up big numbers to Johnny Manziel.
Florida faces Vanderbilt needing a win to keep hopes alive to go to a bowl game. The Gators last lost to the Commodores in 1989, but Vanderbilt beat Georgia and the Gators are reeling. Florida’s remaining schedule includes games at South Carolina and home against Florida State. With Georgia Southern at home likely Florida’s fifth win, this game is huge. The last time the Gators did not go to a bowl game was 1979.