Associated Press Photo
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Sports Network) -
ALABAMA: The top-ranked Crimson Tide continued their dominant run to start the season as it dismissed No. 11 Mississippi State, 38-7, on Saturday. They got the ball rolling with three straight touchdown drives to start the game and they never looked back. A.J. McCarron proved once again to be the master of efficiency under center, completing 16-of-23 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns, and he extended his school-record streak of passes without an interception as it now sits at 258 attempts. T.J. Yeldon had another effective game rushing the ball with 84 yards and a touchdown, and Kenyan Drake (eight carries, 47 yards, TD) also got into the act. As usual, the defense played very well, holding the Bulldogs to just 256 yards, with their only touchdown coming late in the fourth quarter when the game was already decided. Alabama (8-0, 5-0 SEC) will head to Baton Rouge on Saturday to face off with ranked rival LSU.
ARKANSAS: The Razorbacks managed to tie their game against Ole Miss at 27-27 following a Dennis Johnson touchdown run with just over two minutes to play in regulation, but they fell victim to a last-second field goal to lose, 30-27, to snap a modest two-game win streak. Johnson made the most of his touches on the afternoon, carrying the ball 27 times for a career-high 161 yards and a touchdown. Tyler Wilson threw for 297 yards and a pair of scores, but he completed just 24-of-43 passes, threw two interceptions, and was sacked three times. Cobi Hamilton continues his spectacular season at receiver, catching a career-high 12 passes for 146 yards, and the 754 yards he has put up this season is already a career-best. Arkansas (3-5, 2-3 SEC) will step out of conference this Saturday as it tries to get back on track against Tulsa.
AUBURN: The Tigers' nightmare season reached a new low against Texas A&M over the weekend, as they were blown out of their own stadium, 63-21. The defense was torched by the Aggies for 671 yards, the most the team has allowed in a game ever, and the offense had no answer either (335 yards). Clint Moseley (0- of-1) started under center but was pulled after just one series. Kiehl Frazier did not play well, completing 6-of-11 passes for 89 yards while being sacked four times. He was eventually spelled for freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace, who showed signs of life at the position that the team has been lacking all year, going 6-of-9 for 122 yards and two touchdowns, one to Emory Blake (five reception, 106 yards) and the other to C.J. Uzomah (three receptions, 90 yards). Wallace also rushed for 71 yards, and Tre Mason looked good in limited reps out of the backfield (12 carries, 80 yards, TD). Auburn (1-7, 0-6 SEC) is off to its worst start since 1952, and it will try to stop the bleeding on Saturday in a non-conference matchup with New Mexico State.
FLORIDA: The Gators were plagued by an uncharacteristic six turnovers in a crucial SEC Eastern Division bout with Georgia and eventually fell to the Bulldogs in a 17-9 final. Coming into the game they had only turned the ball over four times. Jeff Driskel could get nothing going against a relentless UGA defense, completing 14-of-26 passes for 182 yards and two interceptions. He was also sacked five times and finished with negative-four yards rushing. Mike Gillislee was bottled up in the running game, gaining just 77 yards on 22 carries. The only source of points for Florida (7-1, 6-1 SEC) came from three field goals by Caleb Sturgis (38, 22, 50). The lackluster offensive output spoiled a great afternoon by the defense, which held the high-powered Georgia offense to just 273 yards and it picked off Aaron Murray three times. UF will try to get back on track this week when it plays host to Missouri.
GEORGIA: The Bulldogs were led by an outstanding defensive effort against Florida to win, 17-9, and in the process they now control their own destiny in the SEC Eastern Division. The defense forced six turnovers, which was more than Florida had committed in its first seven games combined. Jarvis Jones continued to prove that he's one of the top defensive players in the country, recording 13 tackles, three sacks, and two forced fumbles. It was a slow day for the UGA offense (273 yards), and Aaron Murray was picked off three times, but he came up with a crucial fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell. The signal-caller finished 12-of-24 for 150 yards and score, while Mitchell caught five passes for 74 yards. Todd Gurley was a workhorse on the ground, piling up 118 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. Georgia (7-1, 5-1 SEC) returns home for the first time in more than a month this Saturday to take on Ole Miss.
KENTUCKY: The Wildcats remained winless in the SEC on Saturday afternoon when they fell on the road to Missouri, 33-10, marking their seventh consecutive loss. The Kentucky offense sputtered, compiling just 179 yards and only nine first downs. Raymond Sanders rushed the ball 11 times for 64 yards, including a one-yard scoring plunge in the first quarter, but that would be the team's only touchdown on the day. Jalen Whitlow struggled under center, completing half of his passes (9-of-18) for 76 yards, while Patrick Towles (1-of-4, four yards) didn't fare much better. The silver lining for Kentucky (1-8, 0-6 SEC) was the promising play of its defense, which allowed a season-low 273 yards to the Tigers and created a season-best three turnovers. Freshman cornerback J.D. Harmon was fantastic, intercepting two passes and making seven tackles. The Wildcats will try to notch their first conference win of the season this Saturday when they host Vanderbilt.
LSU: The Tigers (7-1, 5-0 SEC) enjoyed a bye this past week and they undoubtedly used that extra time to prepare for this Saturday's marquee matchup against No. 1 Alabama.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: The Bulldogs suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of top-ranked Alabama, 38-7. Their usually-potent offense, which had scored 28 points or more in each of their first seven games, was stifled by the Crimson Tide defense as the unit gained just 256 yards. Tyler Russell had his worst game of the year, completing 15-of-30 passes for 169 yards with an interception. The team's only touchdown came late in the fourth quarter when backup quarterback Dak Prescott (4-of-6, 40 yards, TD) connected with Robert Johnson on a two-yard score. LaDarius Perkins gained only 38 yards on 15 carries against the Alabama front. The defense, which came into the matchup with 21 takeaways and ranked first in the nation in turnover margin (2.43), lost the turnover battle, 3-0. Mississippi State (7-1, 3-1 SEC) will try to get back on track this Saturday when it hosts Texas A&M.
MISSOURI: The Tigers came away with their first SEC win on Saturday afternoon, as they downed Kentucky at home, 33-10. It was Missouri's first win since Sept. 29, as it was able to take advantage of several UK turnovers, converting all three of its fumble recoveries into touchdowns. Kendial Lawrence was a busy man with 23 carries for 108 yards and two touchdowns, his third 100-yard rushing game of the season and the fifth of his career. Marcus Murphy (eight carries, 43 yards) also scored a rushing touchdown. Corbin Berkstresser (10- of-18, 71 yards, two INTs, two sacks) was under siege by the Kentucky defense before he was relieved by James Franklin, who had been limited in recent weeks with a knee injury. Franklin finished the game, completing 6-of-9 passes for 16 yards. The Mizzou defense also got into the scoring act in the fourth quarter when E.J. Gaines picked up a fumble and returned it 13 yards for a touchdown. Missouri (4-4, 1-4 SEC) is back to .500 but will have its work cut out for it next week when it travels to Gainesville to play Florida.
OLE MISS: Behind a last-second 31-yard field goal from Bryson Rose, the Rebels held off the Arkansas Razorbacks on the road, 30-27. It was their second straight SEC win after losing their previous 16 against conference opponents. It was a modest day for the offense (355 yards), but the unit managed to score on all five of its trips to the red zone. Bo Wallace completed 29-of-37 passes for 278 yards, a touchdown, and an interception while also rushing for 38 yards. Jeff Scott gained just 50 yards on 21 carries, but found the end zone late in the second quarter, and Donte Moncrief (eight receptions, 60 yards) and Randall Mackey (seven receptions, 99 yards) were both active in the receiving game. Rose also connected on two other field goal attempts (27, 53), which proved to be the difference in the game. The defense allowed 464 yards but managed to pick off Tyler Wilson twice and sack him three times. Ole Miss (5-3, 2-2 SEC) will have its hands full trying to make it three in a row next week when it travels to Athens to take on Georgia.
SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks were able to hold off a late surge by Tennessee to come away with a 38-35 home win, but it didn't come without a price. Running back Marcus Lattimore was taken off on a cart after suffering what appeared to be a horrendous knee injury, his second serious knee injury in as many years. In Lattimore's absence, Connor Shaw shouldered the load offensively, completing 22-of-32 passes for a career-high 356 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for another 33 yards and a score. Justice Cunningham (six receptions, 108 yards) and Bruce Ellington (six receptions, 101 yards, TD) each topped the century mark receiving, and Ace Sanders (five for 79 yards) and Rory Anderson (three for 58 yards) each caught a touchdown pass. The Vols drove inside the red zone late in the game looking to tie or take the lead, but Jadeveon Clowney logged a sack and forced a fumble from Tyler Bray, and with 23 seconds left Victor Hampton picked off a Bray pass to seal the win. South Carolina (7-2, 5-2 SEC) is idle this week, next hitting the field when it plays host to Arkansas on Nov. 10.
TENNESSEE: The Volunteers were down two touchdowns heading into the fourth quarter against South Carolina and climbed to within just one possession of tying or taking the lead, but the comeback bid fell short as they lost, 38-35. With the ball inside the Gamecocks' 20-yard line with under two minutes to play, Tyler Bray was sacked by Jadeveon Clowney and fumbled the ball away to spoil the scoring threat and ultimately the chance at the upset. With the help of a big fourth quarter, Bray went 27-of-43 for 368 yards and four touchdowns, including 22-yard hookup with Zach Rogers midway through the fourth quarter to get the score to within three points. Rogers had a career day, catching six balls for 107 yards and three touchdowns, and Justin Hunter (eight receptions, 90 yards) put together his highest yardage output since Sept. 22 against Akron. Tennessee (3-5, 0-5 SEC) will now need to win three of its last four games to become bowl eligible, and it all starts this week against Sun Belt Conference foe Troy.
TEXAS A&M: The Aggies' offensive explosion this season continued in a 63-21 thrashing of Auburn over the weekend. Freshman sensation Johnny Manziel played less than three quarters, but that didn't stop him from completing 16-of-23 passes for 260 yards, rushing for 90 yards, and tallying five total touchdowns, giving him an incredible 27 scores through eight games. Trey Williams rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown to pace a rushing attack that piled up 352 yards. Christine Michael (75 yards, TD) and Ben Malena (63 yards, TD) also got into the act. Ryan Swope was the club's leading receiver with six catches for 140 yards and two scores, and even backup quarterback Jameill Showers had a say as he completed all eight of his passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2 SEC) is in for a much more difficult test this Saturday when it travels to Starkville to take on a solid Mississippi State squad.
VANDERBILT: The Commodores made easy work of FBS newcomer Massachusetts on Saturday, winning the non-conference bout by a score of 49-7. Vandy got off to a slow start, scoring just seven points in the opening quarter, but the team exploded for six touchdowns in the second and third quarters to put the game away. Zac Stacy had to leave early with an injury, but Brian Kimbrow (seven carries, 98 yards, one TD) and Wesley Tate (15 carries, 81 yards, one TD) helped pick up the slack. Jordan Rodgers had his best game of the season, completing 17-of-21 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 22 yards and a score. Jordan Matthews (10 receptions, 112 yards) continued his fantastic season, and Chris Boyd (four receptions, 59 yards) and Kris Kentera (one reception, 25 yards) caught Rodgers' touchdown passes. The defense and special teams also got into the mix, with Trey Wilson returning an interception 17 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter and Jonathan Krause returning a punt 40 yards for a score in the fourth quarter. Vanderbilt (4-4) returns to SEC action this Saturday against Kentucky.