The biggest Saturday of the season not disappoint in the SEC, however, it did surprise. Out of the six conference games, four played out completely different than I expected and shook up the outlook of the conference going forward.
Mississippi State vs. Kentucky
Mississippi State is on a roll. The Bulldogs went into Lexington and continued their winning with a 27- 14 over the Wildcats. Kentucky was short handed in the game, relying on two freshman quarterbacks: Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles. Both performed pretty well, considering the circumstances. Unfortunately for Kentucky, they just do not have the talent to compete with the good teams in the
SEC. State quarterback Tyler Bray continues to impress with his command of the offense. He added two touchdowns against the Wildcats on Saturday. Now all the Bulldogs have to do is get by Tennessee to set up an epic showdown with Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Vanderbilt vs. Missouri
Poor Missouri: this Vanderbilt team has been pretty terrible and were primed to give the Tigers their first SEC win. This game was supposed to be a gimme for Missouri, but as the cliché goes, that’s why they play the game. Mizzou outgained Vandy by 100 yards, but due to a botched snap Vandy got a safety and later, a missed extra point by Mizzou sent them to the SEC East cellar. In Missouri’s defense, they were without starting quarterback James Franklin and freshman wide out Dorial Green-Beckham, who is serving a suspension for a drug charge this week. While those absences may have been a factor, that should not be an excuse for a team that has more talent than Vanderbilt. The long season continues for the Tigers up north.
Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss
Texas A&M continues to make a big splash in the SEC, getting this win over Ole Miss. Ole Miss offered the Aggies their first true test since playing Florida in their opening game. The Aggies actually trailed by ten going into fourth quarter before quarterback Johnny Manziel answered masterfully. He led two touchdown drives, one where he scored on a twenty-nine yard scamper and one where he found Ryan Swope for the go ahead score with less than two minutes remaining. That final touchdown happened because a questionable call by Coach Hugh Freeze to go for it on fourth-and- one in Rebel territory backfired. Ole Miss tried on one last drive, but Bo Wallace was intercepted to put the game away. The heartbreaking loss keeps the Rebels streak of consecutive SEC games without a win, a streak that dates back two years.
Arkansas vs. Auburn
It has been evident that after having their season derailed, this Arkansas team gives up at the first sign of difficulty. It would take a very bad team to give them a reason to fight through a game. Enter Auburn. Arkansas, who ranks last in the league in defense, racked up eight sacks against the Tigers. After another poor effort, much maligned quarterback Kiehl Frazier was benched in favor of Clint Mosley as Auburn looked for a spark. The quarterback change helped little. On defense, Auburn gave up two rushing touchdowns to Dennis Johnson. The game was close until the fourth quarter when Arkansas pulled away with two touchdowns. It will be interesting to see how Auburn handles this loss. Their response could determine the fate of their coach.
LSU vs. Florida
For a one possession game, this one was completely one sided in the second half. LSU is downright atrocious on offense. Their inability to stay on the field kept their defense on the field most of the second half. No matter how dominant that defensive unit was, that amount of time does take a toll. Saturday was a microcosm of the offense this season: receiver drops, spotty line play, questionable play calling and quarterback mistakes. Florida deserves credit, particularly offensive coordinator Brent Pease. They went into halftime and made adjustments to slow down LSU’s defense and grind out some points. With that play calling, Mike Gillislee was able to have a big day running the ball for the Gators. The win places Florida firmly in the SEC East race and LSU’s season in serious doubt.
Georgia vs. South Carolina
This was the shocker of the day. Georgia, the favorites to win the East, was completely manhandled on Saturday night by South Carolina. The Bulldogs were considered the most complete team in the league with an explosive offense and a reliable defense. None of that meant a thing to South Carolina. The Gamecocks held Aaron Murray, the league leading quarterback to no touchdowns and an interception. The Bulldogs were only able to get 115 yards on the ground and one score, but most of that came in garbage time. Connor Shaw was the steady manager of the offense yet again, scoring twice through the air and once on the ground, with running back Marcus Lattimore getting a rushing touchdown as well. The Gamecocks special teams also got in on the fun and scored another touchdown on a punt return. South Carolina now controls its own destiny. Win the rest of their SEC games and they are once again in Atlanta. However, their path is more difficult than that of the Georgia.
What did you think of the weekend for the SEC? Does South Carolina have a shot at beating Alabama? Let us know in the comments!