Photo courtesy of Mississippi State Athletics
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Sports Network) -
ALABAMA: The nation's No. 1 team continued its dominating start to the season, as it dismissed SEC West rival Arkansas, 52-0, in the conference opener on the road this past Saturday. It was the largest margin of victory for Alabama (3-0, 1-0 SEC) in an SEC game since it beat Auburn, 55-0, back in 1948. The offense was as efficient as it could have been, scoring six touchdowns in six trips to the red zone. A.J. McCarron completed 11-of-16 passes for 189 yards, including a touchdown strike to Amari Cooper. Eddie Lacy had 55 yards rushing and was responsible for three of the Tide's six rushing scores. Even though Arkansas was without its All-SEC quarterback Tyler Wilson, the defensive effort was nonetheless spectacular for Alabama, holding the Razorbacks to just 137 yards of total offense while recording four sacks, five forced fumbles (three fumble recoveries) and two interceptions. Alabama should be in line for another easy win this week when it hosts Florida Atlantic.
ARKANSAS: A week after suffering a devastating loss to ULM that dropped them out of the Top-25, the Razorbacks' misfortune continued on Saturday afternoon as they were blown out by No. 1 Alabama on their own field, 52-0. Without star quarterback Tyler Wilson, Arkansas (1-2, 0-1) was a mess on offense, compiling just 137 yards while committing five turnovers. Allen Brandon struggled filling in for Wilson, throwing for just 60 yards on 10-of-18 passing with two interceptions. Brandon Mitchell (1-of-7, 19 yards) was also ineffective under center. Knile Davis gained 59 yards on the afternoon, albeit on less than three yards per carry. The Razorbacks will try to get back in the win column this week when they host Rutgers.
AUBURN: Auburn faced a scare on Saturday afternoon as ULM came back from 21 points down to force overtime, but a Cody Parkey field goal in the extra session secured a 31-28 win for the Tigers, thus avoiding their first 0-3 start since 1950. It was the rushing attack that catapulted the Tigers to the win, as the team racked up 255 yards on the day. Tre Mason (22 carries, 90 yards, TD) was a workhorse, while Onterio Smith (11 carries, 128 yards, TD) showed more explosion on fewer touches. After struggling in the first two weeks, Kiehl Frazier was far from impressive (10-of-18, 130 yards, TD, INT), but he also added a 33-yard touchdown reception from Quan Berry on a trick play in the second quarter. Auburn (1-2) will head back to its SEC schedule this week when it hosts national powerhouse LSU.
FLORIDA: The Gators found themselves down 20-13 midway through the third quarter against nationally-ranked Tennessee, but finished the game scoring 24 straight points to pull out an impressive conference road win, 37-20. The offense was clicking all night, outgaining the Vols 555-340. Most of those yards came from the ground game, with Mike Gillislee (18 carries, 115 yards), Trey Burton (three carries, 91 yards, two TDs) and Jeff Driskel (eight carries, 81 yards) shouldering the load. Driskel was also instrumental under center, completing 14-of-20 passes for 219 yards and two scores, including a 23-yard touchdown strike to Jordan Reed late in the third quarter, which proved to be the game-winner. Florida (3-0, 2-0 SEC) has now won eight games in a row in the series with Tennessee, and it will try to continue its conference success this Saturday at home versus Kentucky.
GEORGIA: The Bulldogs allowed Florida Atlantic to stick around for much of the first half, but eventually pulled away in record-breaking style to post a 56-20 victory. They set a school record for total offense on the night with 713 yards, and have now scored 40 points or more in their first three games for the first time in program history. Aaron Murray didn't need to throw the ball much (14-of-19), but the results were explosive with 342 passing yards and two touchdowns to Michael Bennett (four catches, 110 yards) and Arthur Lynch (three catches, 73 yards). Todd Gurley (111 yards) and Keith Marshall (104 yards) each topped the century mark rushing and scored a touchdown on just 10 carries apiece. Murray also ran in a pair of scores. The defense played great as well, highlighted by a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown by Amario Herrera in the third quarter. Georgia will attempt to move to 4-0 this Saturday when it entertains Vanderbilt.
KENTUCKY: Down by a touchdown with under a minute to play in regulation against Western Kentucky, Maxwell Smith connected on a 22-yard touchdown pass to DeMarcus Sweat to send the game to overtime. The Wildcats scored a touchdown on its first overtime possession, but the Hilltoppers answered that with a score of their own and a successful two-point conversion as UK fell in a heart-breaker, 32-31. Maxwell Smith had a busy night, completing 37-of-60 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns, but he also hurt his squad with four interceptions. Jonathan George had 51 yards rushing and two touchdowns, including an 11-yarder in overtime. La'Rod King paced all receivers with 10 catches for 84 yards. The defense was effective, allowing just 323 yards, but WKU played on short fields all night thanks to Smith's turnovers and it was able to convert four of its five red zone possessions into touchdowns. UK (1-2) will enter SEC play next week with a hostile road game against nationally-ranked Florida.
LSU: In whipping Idaho, 63-14, LSU (3-0) not only remained undefeated on the season, but won its 40th straight non-conference game, setting an NCAA record previously held by Kansas State from 1993-2003. The 64 points was also the most the Tigers have scored since putting up 63 in a game against Kentucky back in 1997. The defense held the Vandals to 213 yards of total offense and scored two touchdowns on interception returns from Ronald Martin and Lavar Edwards. Kenny Hilliard (11 carries, 116 yards) and Jeremy Hill (10 carries, 61 yards) each ran in a pair of touchdowns, while Alfred Blue (10 carries, 46 yards) also had a rushing score. Zach Mettenberger continued to impress under center, completing 17-of-22 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. LSU will kick off its conference schedule on Saturday night with a road game against Auburn.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: The Bulldogs had to face down a rowdy crowd at Troy, as the Trojans were hosting their first-ever game against an SEC school. The Trojans made a game of it, but MSU managed to hold on, 30-24, to move to 3-0 on the season. LaDarius Perkins had a career night with 179 rushing yards, which included a first-quarter touchdown. Chad Bumphis also set a career-high with 180 yards receiving and three touchdowns, giving him 17 for his career, tying a school record. It was the first time in program history that a running back and a receiver each totaled at least 175 yards in the same game. Tyler Russell wasn't as sharp as he has been in earlier games this season (11-of-26), but he finished with 244 yards and no interceptions to go along with those three touchdown strikes to Bumphis. Darius Slay stepped up for the defense, making six tackles, two interceptions and recovering a fumble. MSU returns home this Saturday to tangle with South Alabama.
MISSOURI: The Tigers were able to withstand a late Arizona State surge to hold on for a 24-20 victory in an intriguing non-conference matchup. Corbin Berkstresser made his first career start in place of the injured James Franklin, and although he was less than impressive throwing the ball (21- of-41, 198 yards, INT), he had a six-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Kendial Lawrence didn't have a great yards-per-carry average (16 rushes, 62 yards), but he was able to punch the ball into the end zone twice. T.J. Moe was Berkstresser's safety valve, catching eight balls for 88 yards. The defense stepped up big time for a hindered offense, allowing the Sun Devils to net just 296 yards of total offense while forcing four turnovers. Missouri (2-1, 0-1 SEC) is in for a tough afternoon this Saturday when it hits the road to play nationally-ranked South Carolina.
OLE MISS: After winning their first two games of the season, the Rebels failed their biggest test of the year so far, losing to nationally-ranked Texas at home, 66-31. The Ole Miss defense laid an egg against the explosive Longhorns, surrendering 676 yards of total offense. Bo Wallace had been one of the conference's most effective quarterbacks early in the season, but struggled in this matchup, completing just 13-of-24 passes for 178, throwing one touchdown to three interceptions. Donte Moncrief continues to make big plays, catching seven balls for 144 yards, including a 75-yard score. Wallace and Moncrief have now connected on a 50-plus yard touchdown in all three games. Jeff Scott had 95 yards rushing and a touchdown, but only carried the ball eight times. Jaylen Walton added 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Next up for Ole Miss is a date with Tulane this Saturday in New Orleans.
SOUTH CAROLINA: The nationally-ranked Gamecocks improved to 3-0 on the young season with an easy 49-6 win at home over UAB. The defense was suffocating, allowing just 267 yards and recording six sacks, while D.J. Swearinger returned a fumble 65 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. The offense wasn't shabby either, logging 501 total yards. Connor Shaw had a modest game in limited action (8-of-14, 107 yards, TD, INT) before being spelled for backup Dylan Thompson, who completed just five passes but for an astounding 177 yards and two scores. One of the touchdowns was a 94-yarder to Damiere Byrd, his only catch of the game. Marcus Lattimore put together 85 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, while Mike Davis accomplished nearly that (84 yards) on just four carries. South Carolina figures to be in for more of a challenge this week when it hosts Missouri.
TENNESSEE: The Volunteers appeared to be on their way to 3-0 after they found themselves up 20-13 midway through the third quarter against nationally-ranked Florida, but then they surrendered the game's final 24 points to fall, 37-20. The defense let the team down late, and in the end the unit allowed more than 550 yards of total offense. After looking spectacular in the first two outings, Tyler Bray showed that he is indeed mortal, completing just half of his pass attempts (22-of-44) for 257 yards, tossing two touchdowns as well as two interceptions. Cordarrelle Patterson (eight catches, 75 yards) and Mychal Rivera (four catches, 47 yards) were on the receiving end of Bray's scoring strikes. Raijon Neal had a solid day running the ball, amassing 87 yards on 23 carries, but the rest of the team combined for negative-four yards rushing. The Vols (2-1, 1-1 SEC) face off against Akron at home this Saturday night.
TEXAS A&M: After a disappointing loss at home to Florida last week in their first-ever SEC game, the Aggies bounced back in a big way this past Saturday by posting a strong non-conference win at SMU, 48-3. In just three quarters of work, quarterback Johnny Manziel was fantastic, throwing for an A&M freshman- record 294 yards and four touchdowns while adding another 124 yards and two scores on the ground. Mike Evans was Manziel's favorite target on the afternoon, hauling in six balls for 123 yards, while Uzoma Nwachukwu had two catches, both touchdowns. The win makes the Aggies 11-0-1 against SMU in 12 games since 1984. A&M will face off against FCS foe South Carolina State this Saturday before jumping back into SEC action on Sept. 29 versus Arkansas.
VANDERBILT: In a tune-up before it dives further into its SEC schedule, Vanderbilt made easy work of FCS foe Presbyterian, 58-0. The Commodores piled up more than 600 yards of total offense, including an incredible 410 yards on the ground. Zac Stacy (174 yards, TD) and Brian Kimbrow (137 yards, TD) had huge games running the football, and Wesley Tate added two rushing scores as well. Austyn Carta-Samuels didn't need to do much in the win but was impressive nonetheless, completing 13-of-20 passes for 195 yards with a passing touchdown to Steven Scheu. The defense allowed the Blue Hose to tally just 149 yards of offense in the game. Things will get much more difficult for Vandy (1-2) this week when it heads out on the road to battle nationally- ranked Georgia.