This weekend in college football once again proved that no matter how impossible something may seem, anything can happen. The Alabama Crimson Tide came back to beat LSU in Death Valley in dramatic fashion. Notre Dame survived a missed field goal in overtime to stay undefeated. Auburn won a football game. Let’s look back at the weekend in the SEC.
Turnovers Are Contagious in Athens
Georgia overcame a slow start to beat Ole Miss 37-10. There is something about Ole Miss that causes other teams to play down to their level. Alabama probably made more mistakes against Ole Miss this year than anyone they have played. In the second quarter, Ole Miss was responsible for, in one way or another, a total of four turnovers in a matter of a minute or so of game clock.
The Rebels forced a fumble, then threw a pick, then forced another fumble, then threw another pick, all faster than you can say “Houston Nutt.” It was like a bad game of “Hot Potato,” and I won’t soon forget the hearty belly laughs I had at their expense.
Aaron Murray had an outstanding game, going 21-28 for 384 yards and four touchdowns. Ole Miss jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, but eventually talent took over in the second half and the Bulldogs imposed their will with 37 unanswered points. They have all but secured the SEC East, but the rules of football state Georgia must suit up and play the game against Auburn; a mere formality.
Florida’s Scoring Troubles
Florida edged out Mizzou in the Swamp 14-7. The Gator’s offensive woes continue; they only managed only 276 yards of total offense against a Missouri defense that has given up over 340 yards per game this year. They were scoreless at halftime, at home, against a team that game up over 40 points to Georgia and Alabama.
Jeff Driskel had a poor game, going 12-23 for 106 yards and a touchdown. There has been Heisman chatter about Driskel for next season. I believe he does have the ability, but Florida’s offensive coordinator Brent Pease needs to get everyone on the same page. Nationally, Florida’s offense averages 26 points (70th) and 332.8 total yards (104th) per game. That is not going to get it done in the SEC.
Their defense continues to be their saving grace; it only allowed only 335 total yards and caused four turnovers. Nationally, the Gator defense gives up only 12.1 points (3rd) and 286.9 yards (5th) a game. They are very reminiscent of the 2005 Alabama team: Very good on defense, but not quite good enough on offense to beat the best teams.
Welcome to Neyland Stadium (Defense Optional)
They say football is a game of inches, and I believe this to be true. For Derek Dooley and the Tennessee Volunteers, this weekend was a game of 25,956 inches. That’s equivalent to the 721 yards of offense Tennessee gave up to Troy in Knoxville. However, the Vols did accrue 718 yards of their own. They managed a last minute touchdown and beat the mighty Troy Trojans 55-48. We may have to send Tennessee down to the Big 12.
Tyler Bray, for what it’s worth, broke a school record with 530 passing yards on 29-47 passing and scored 5 touchdowns. Hey, no one ever said offense is a problem in Knoxville.
Tennessee’s defense, nevertheless, is one of the worst in the country. Nationally, they give up 38.2 points per game (111th) and surrender 510.8 yards of offense per game (120th). It is hard to imagine Derek Dooley keeping his job after the season is over. Tennessee is 4-5 and faces Missouri, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky in their last three games. I doubt they bowl this year.
Joker of a Season
Vanderbilt flogged Kentucky 40-0 in Lexington. That was the last straw for Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart, and for any Wildcat fans who noticed they had a football game. Joker Phillips was fired on Sunday, and was given the option to continue coaching the rest of the season, or to step away if he preferred.
He chose to stay; a decision I respect and commend. It would be very easy to throw in the towel amid a 1-9 season. It doesn’t shock me that Joker Phillips did not choose the easy way. It was clear, however, that a change needed to be made in Lexington. I suspect Phillips will land on his feet at another school.
Vanderbilt is now 5-4 and finish up with Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Wake Forrest. They are winning at least one of those games, which means Vandy is bowling for the second year in a row. I would say more than a few schools come after James Franklin at the end of the season.
Alabama takes on Texas A&M in Tuscaloosa this weekend. The game will be aired at 3:30 EST on CBS.
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