It finally happened: The SEC has cannibalized itself. The Alabama Crimson Tide suffered its first loss of the season to Texas A&M this weekend in gut-wrenching fashion, leaving no undefeated teams in the conference. Hopefully by now you have patched up the holes in your drywall and apologized to the appropriate people for inexplicably throwing stuff and shouting obscenities at them.
The good news is Alabama remains in the front of the pecking order for one-loss teams. Also noteworthy: The six spots behind the top three undefeated teams are all from the SEC. Total number of Big Ten teams ranked in the BCS: Two.
The Oldest Excuse In the South
The Georgia Bulldogs showed mercy on the Auburn Tigers on Saturday night, beating them only 38-0. Any reasonable person would have to assume the Dawgs could have beaten the Tigers much worse, like somewhere in the neighborhood of 100-0.
I heard more rumblings from Auburn fans this weekend that their team is just young. Youth is not the problem with this Auburn team. That argument is more watered down than a Stephen Garcia shower beer. They simply don’t have the players or coaching that good teams have. The players they do have already quit, and there is really nothing the coaches can do to change that.
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray went 18-of-24 for 208 yards and three touchdowns. Both Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall rushed for over 100 yards and one score. The Bulldogs scored on their first four possessions, and the game was over at halftime. Auburn’s nightmare season is almost complete, but not before hosting Alabama A&M, and then coming to Tuscaloosa on November 24th.
Quadruple Overtime Blues
The fourth quarter and overtime series of the Tennessee-Missouri game helped mitigate the anguish I was experiencing in the first quarter of the Alabama-Texas A&M game, because watching Tennessee try to close out a lesser opponent is football comedy gold.
The Vols had the momentum for most of the game. They led 21-7 at halftime, and outgained the Tigers by over 300 yards in the first half. Even when the score was close, I never felt the sense that Tennessee would relinquish the lead to the lowly Missouri Tigers.
But of course, the Tennessee defense had to go and prove me wrong. They allowed Missouri quarterback James Franklin to complete a 25-yard touchdown pass to freshman Dorial Green-Beckham on a fourth-and-12 play. The teams then traded touchdowns for three overtimes, and eventually the game ended with a 35-yard field goal from Missouri kicker Andrew Baggett.
Tennessee led Missouri in almost every statistical category except one: The Tigers were 4-of-5 on fourth down conversions. Converting a fourth down to keep a drive alive can help you gather momentum, but when you convert four, it can be demoralizing to a defense. Franklin’s fourth-down conversion at the end of regulation gave the Tigers all the momentum and belief they needed to compete and win in overtime.
Florida Barely Escapes
The Gators needed the Georgia Bulldogs to lose on Saturday to clinch the SEC East, but all things considered, they are probably just happy not to be 8-2 today. The Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns gave the Gators all they wanted but came up short, losing 27-20. Florida needed a blocked punt at the end of regulation to avoid overtime and secure victory.
The Gators did not have their starting quarterback Jeff Driskel late in the game due to an ankle injury. Even with Driskel, their offense once again left much to be desired. Florida only managed 311 total yards against a 5-4 Sun Belt Conference team.
Florida continues to be the enigma of the SEC. They’re a good team, but their record often doesn’t match their on-field performances. This would have been an embarrassing loss for the school and the conference. Instead the Gators are 9-1, and in line for a BCS bowl appearance. They play Jacksonville State before taking on No. 10 Florida State in their final game of the regular season.
The final score of the LSU-Mississippi State game was 37-17, but the score doesn’t tell the whole story. Mississippi State went into Baton Rouge and played pretty well, but not well enough to beat a juggernaut in LSU. The Bulldogs were knocking on the door with about two minutes left on the clock. A score could have made it interesting, but Craig Loston intercepted Tyler Russell and ran it back 100 yards for a touchdown.
Zach Mettenberger has come into his own in the past two games. He has thrown for 571 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. LSU is starting to trust the player who often struggled early in the season. The thought of LSU with an eliete quarterback is a scary one — but we don’t have to worry about that until next year.
Mississippi State is solid team this year, but still lacks the overall talent and depth to compete with the upper-echelon teams of the SEC. I believe nine wins in Starkville is probably the ceiling for any coach. For Dan Mullen to achieve that win total twice in only a few years at Mississippi State is impressive. Don’t be surprised if Auburn or Tennessee come after him in the offseason.
Alabama takes on Western Carolina at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. The game will be aired at 12:21 EST on the SEC Network.
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