Thoughts on rivalry wins by Alabama, Florida, Georgia and more SEC Quick Hits.
By ANDY JOHNSTONFS South
Georgia 42, Georgia Tech 10
Title game time: Despite the lopsided score and difference in their records, Georgia (11-1) and Georgia Tech (6-6) are both headed to their conference championship games. The Bulldogs won their way into the SEC’s big game, but the Yellow Jackets will be playing Florida State for the ACC title because Miami pulled itself from the postseason play.
Oh no, no Orwin: Georgia Tech’s offense isn’t based around one back, but Orwin Smith is it’s breakaway threat. But he was out with an injured ankle and the Yellow Jackets missed him and the nine yards he averages on his attempts. They have plenty of backs, but no one with the explosiveness that Smith possesses.
Timber: The Yellow Jackets tried to run around and away from Alec Ogletree, but they failed in their attempts at neutralizing him. He played enraged, like Charles Jefferson, Forest Whitaker’s character from
Fast Times at Ridgemont High, after he was told the rival school demolished his car. Ogletree even pulled off a piledriver on one Tech running back.
Alabama 49, Auburn 0
Forged by steel: Iron Bowls usually aren’t laughers, but Alabama didn’t waste any energy or its opportunity to reach the SEC Championship Game. The Crimson Tide led 42-0 at halftime behind an efficient offense that finished with 483 yards. The reward: A meeting with Georgia at the Georgia Dome for the SEC championship.
No points for you: We knew it would be tough for Auburn to score. Well, guess what? It was. The Crimson Tide shut out the Tigers, holding them to 163 yards and forcing three turnovers. Alabama also held Auburn’s offense to no points in last year’s 42-14 win, with the Tigers’ scores coming on a fumble recovery and a kickoff return.
Flawless McCarron: Tide QB AJ McCarron threw two interceptions against Texas A&M. They were his first since last October and ended up being the only ones he threw all year. McCarron bombed Auburn with four TD passes and finished the regular season with 25 TD passes and those two picks.
Florida 37, Florida State 26
Bucket dump: Will Muschamp didn’t escape unscathed, receiving the stealthy and well-deserved liquid congratulations for the huge win. It’s a long way from this time last year, when
FSU beat Florida and the Gators finished 6-6 in Muschamp’s first season. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities that Florida could still play for the national title.
Best for last: The
Seminoles dominated the third quarter and appeared poised to make it two in a row against the Gators. But then came the fourth, which belonged to Florida. Twenty-four points later and the Gators were on their way to improving to 11-1.
Bad tasting turnovers: Just like turnovers stopped Florida’s chance to beat Georgia last month, they did the same to Florida State against the Gators. The Seminoles committed five turnovers, with EJ Manuel throwing three interceptions. Manuel’s fourth-quarter fumble led to one of Florida’s final touchdowns.
Texas A&M 59, Missouri 29
Johnny marching home again: Johnny Manziel used his arm more than his feet to send the
Aggies to a big lead. He threw three second-quarter TD passes to add to his legend. Manziel later ran for two more in the rout. Remember, he hasn’t given an interview because freshmen at Texas A&M can’t talk to the media.
Sumlin deserves credit: Not much was made of Texas A&M’s hiring of Kevin Sumlin from nearby Houston, but he’s worthy of year-end awards for the job he’s done with the Aggies. Remember, Manziel didn’t win the QB job until August and the Aggies’ first game was postponed by a hurricane. What if they had played once before facing Florida in the opener?
Show Me downcast: There was a massive buildup to Missouri’s entrance into the SEC, but it’s been pretty much all bad since losing to Georgia in its debut. Texas A&M captured most of the spotlight of the two new teams and Missouri (5-7, 2-6 SEC) won’t be going to a bowl for the first time in eight years.
South Carolina 27, Clemson 17
Like a rolling stone: With apologies to Bob Dylan, South Carolina’s Dylan Thompson kept gathering momentum in his surprise start. He threw for 315 yards and three TDs, but his crowning play was a 20-yard run on third-and-19 two plays before he threw a clinching TD pass. The
Gamecocks kept Clemson’s explosive offense off the field.
Calls didn’t hurt: Twice it appeared Clemson had stopped South Carolina on a drive that started late in the third quarter, but the Tigers were called for pass interference penalties on fourth-and-11 and on third-and-9, keeping the drive alive. Xavier Brewer finally stopped the drive with a sack and then an interception in the end zone, but the Gamecocks continued eating clock.
A happy face: There are plenty of excellent DEs in the ACC, but Clemson hadn’t faced a force like Jadeveon Clowney. He tormented Tajh Boyd and finished with 4 1/2 sacks as the Gamecocks stifled the Tigers, holding them way below their season average of 44.6 points.
No sinking this ship: Vanderbilt wasn’t about to ruin its shot at its first eight-win season since 1982. Everything was working well as the
Commodores scored by land, air, defense and on special teams. It’s Vanderbilt's sixth straight victory, the program’s longest winning streak since 1955.
Big hands people: Maybe it’s because they share a common first name, but Vanderbilt QB Jordan Rodgers and WR Jordan Matthews have formed quite a tandem. Rodgers and Matthews connected 10 times for 155 yards and a score, giving Matthews 77 catches for a school-record 1,118 yards this season.
Going bowling: Vanderbilt is definitely going bowling, but the Commodores and their fans won’t know which one until next Saturday. They might go to the Music City Bowl, but might be in consideration for the Chick-fil-A or Gator bowls.
Ole Miss 41, Mississippi State 24
Freeze heats up Rebs: Ole Miss won its fifth game on Oct. 27, so it seemed then that bowl eligibility was certain. Three straight losses led to doubts, but first-year coach Hugh Freeze as the Rebels (6-6) in a bowl for the first time since 2009, along with ownership of the Golden Egg.
Donte’s inferno: Ole Miss WR Donte Moncrief has had a few other big games this season, but none like this one. He had seven catches for 173 yards and three TDs, catching the two scores to help the Rebels pull away in the third quarter. Moncrief has 10 TD catches. He’s just a sophomore.
Bulldogs lose bite: Mississippi State was 7-0 and climbing the rankings just more than a month ago. That’s before the Bulldogs played Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU. Coupled with this loss, they finished the season with four losses in five games.
Lame duck bowl: Both of these teams are on the hunt for new coaches after Kentucky fired Joker Phillips and Tennessee fired Derek Dooley. Only Phillips was on the sideline for this one as he decided to finish the season.
All day Bray: It was a matter of which defense would actually make a few stops. Kentucky doesn’t have a weapon like Tennessee QB Tyler Bray, who unleashed all his weapons and threw for 293 yards and four TD passes. Despite all of the
Volunteers’ issues, Bray threw 18 scoring passes and three interceptions in the final five games.
Once-proud program: Tennessee is one of the SEC’s most storied and successful programs, but the Volunteers and their fans are looking for their fourth coach in six years. The program has fallen hard, going a combined 28-34 the past five years and will be at home for the holidays for the third time in that span.