Bounce back: Not seeing Alabama, Texas A&M or LSU on the schedule really got Mississippi State fired up. Dysfunctional Arkansas will do that for most folks, too. Dan Mullen’s offense re-ingited in the Bulldogs’ 45-14 victory over the Razorbacks, pushing the team to eight wins this season.
Mississippi State gained 505 yards of offense, not surprisingly outpacing their final three outings by a wide margin. With the win, the Bulldogs still have a chance at a respectable bowl game with the pivotal Egg Bowl looming. Don’t overlook Mr. Freeze & Co., though.
Perking up: Bulldogs’ running back LaDarius Perkins showed his versatility off in this one. The junior running back rushed for 91 yards and caught three passes for another 40 yards. His two touchdown receptions were the dagger in the Razorbacks’, well, back. That and turnovers (more on that in a minute).
So Perkins walks away with today’s game ball after gained just 93 yards of offense against Texas A&M and Alabama combined, then not playing against LSU. Nice rebound for the NFL prospect.
Arkansas. Oh, Arkansas: Looking at the stat sheet, there wasn’t much difference for the majority of Saturday’s affair … until you see the turnovers. The Razorbacks committed five turnovers in the game — three interceptions, two failed fourth-down conversions and one fumble — to let this one get out of hand.
Arkansas actually led 14-7 in this one. It was all downhill from there.
No. 5 Georgia 45, Georgia Southern 14
Just lay down: If you’re an inferior defense facing Aaron Murray, just give up. It’s already over. Murray passed for 330 yards and four touchdowns against Georgia Southern, leading the Bulldogs to a 45-14 victory. Murray has now thrown for nine touchdowns and one interception against non-conference opponents this season. (Top-ranked defenses are another story entirely, but that’s a tale for another time.)
So watch out, Georgia Tech.
Pull away: This was not a close call like South Carolina-Wofford, but Georgia Southern was in striking distance in the third quarter. Were it not for a controversial non-fumble ruling (Georgia wide receiver Tavarres King appeared to fumble up just 17-7, but it was ruled an incompletion), the Eagles might have kept this one closer. It’s tough to argue they would have won — Murray and young receiver Chris Conley were too prolific — but it could have remained interesting for another 10 minutes or so. Conspiracy theorists, feel free to chime in.
Warm up: One thing the Georgia coaches can appreciate from this game is that it was a strong indicator of what their next opponent, Georgia Tech, will try next week. The Yellow Jackets also run the often-tough-to-prepare-for triple option offense. Keep in mind: Georgia Tech is not much better than Georgia Southern this season.
It looks like the Bulldogs, barring a catastrophic letdown, will continue their run of dominance over their Atlanta neighbors.
No. 9 South Carolina 24, Wofford 7
Can’t let South Carolina hang around like that, Wofford: Poor job, poor effort. This is not a typo: ninth-ranked South Carolina was tied with Wofford in the fourth quarter, 7-7, with the Terriers throwing one pass (incomplete) in 45 minutes. Again, all of this is non-fiction. It happened. SoCon, stand up.
Eventually, Steve Spurrier found a spark and pulled away, winning 24-7. But this certainly did not look like a Gamecock team preparing for an opportunity at a BCS bowl.
Open the flood gates: Once South Carolina began scoring, though, it didn’t stop. Senior Kenny Miles finished the game with 124 rushing yards and a score. Connor Shaw was not terrible — completing 16-of-20 passes for 122 yards — but not spectacular. Spurrier expects more from his quarterbacks.
South Carolina closed out the game on a 17-0 run. That’s called shutting the door. (Should have never let them on the front porch in the first place, though.)
No. 6 Florida 23, Jacksonville State 0
A little better: This was not the dominant effort many might expect, but at least Florida didn’t let another lesser team hang around until the fourth quarter this time. Unlike games against Bowling Green, Missouri and Louisiana-Lafeyette, the Gators never really let Jacksonville State get into this game, winning 23-0.
Florida’s defense, per the usual, delivered the standout performance with the shutout, holding the Gamecocks to 242 total yards on the day and forcing one turnover.
Relief effort: Filling in for starter Jeff Driskel, backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett played well for Will Muschamp, completing 14 of his 22 passes. He finished with 154 yards on the day. Now, obviously, this was not a dominant performance nor the typical SEC opponent that Driskel has faced this season, but it has to be comforting that the Gators have, at the very least, a respectable (and now semi-experienced) guy behind the starter. Never know when that might come in handy — like against Jacksonville State.
No. 4 Alabama 49, Western Carolina 0
Hope you’re happy, Coach Sumlin: This game was over before it began. One of the many FCS Sothern Conference teams the SEC will square off with Saturday, the Crimson Tide got back on track after its upset at the hands of Texas A&M, taking out the Catamounts, 49-0. It was Nick Saban’s defense’s third shutout of the season, the first since Week Three.
Western Carolina gained just 163 total yards.
Quarterback AJ McCarron was a perfect 6-for-6 passing on the day (133 yards, one touchedown), before being replaced by backup Blake Sim with the game already out of hand. The Crimson Tide leaned on its running game, though, racking up 300 yards and five scores on the day. Eddie Lacy led all rushers with 99 yards and three touchdowns — on just 10 carries.