Tide still No. 1; Mizzou tumbles
Alabama is the top ranked team in the nation and obviously the No. 1 team in the SEC. The Crimson Tide disposed of Tennessee 45-10 in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. Missouri was the biggest move in the power rankings — in the wrong direction. The Tigers fell from No. 2 to No. 6 after losing at home to South Carolina.
SEC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
|1||1||Alabama (8-0, 5-0): Alabama beat Tennessee for the seventh straight time — and did so with remarkable ease. The Crimson Tide led 21-0 after one quarter and 35-0 at the half en route to the 45-10 win over the visiting Volunteers. AJ McCarron, as usual, was efficient throwing the ball, completing 19-of-27 passes for 275 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Kevin Norwood caught six passes for a career-high 112 yards to lead the Tide’s underrated crop of receivers. Alabama has allowed 10 points or less in all but one game this season. Next Week: Bye|
|2||3||LSU (7-2, 3-2): LSU stepped out of SEC play to host Furman on Saturday night. The Paladins made it interesting for a while — they trailed 20-16 at the half — but were overwhelmed in the final two quarters of a 48-16 loss. The Tigers rolled up 672 yards of offense, with 300-plus through the air and on the ground. Tailbacks Jeremy Hill and Terrence McGee were unstoppable, combining for 251 yards and four touchdowns on only 21 carries. Furman, coached by longtime Vanderbilt assistant Bruce Fowler, managed only 198 yards. Next Week: Bye|
|3||4||Auburn (7-1, 3-1): The Tigers cruised to a 45-10 win over Florida Atlantic in their final non-conference game of the season. Quarterback Nick Marshall was sidelined with a shoulder injury early in the second quarter, forcing the Tigers to turn to Jeremy Johnson, a true freshman who has started one game this season. Johnson was sharp, completing 10-of-16 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Cameron Artis-Payne led a productive Auburn ground attack with 93 yards on 13 carries. Next Week: at Arkansas|
|4||6||Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2): Kevin Sumlin was “hopeful’ that his star quarterback, bothered by a shoulder injury, would be available to play against Vanderbilt. Johnny Manziel said there was never any doubt. The 2012 Heisman Trophy Winner threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns to lead Texas A&M to a 56-24 win. Manziel was extremely sharp early, leading the Aggies on touchdown drives of 75, 66, 80 and 39 yards as they raced out to a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter. Texas A&M committed four turnovers — the most this season — but still won the game with relative ease. The Aggies’ defense, which entered the day ranked 120th in the nation, gave up a season-low 330 yards. Next Week: UTEP|
|5||5||South Carolina (6-2, 4-2): The Gamecocks are back in the SEC East title chase after rallying to beat Missouri 27-24 in double-overtime on the road. Connor Shaw was the hero for Carolina, coming off the bench in the third quarter and throwing for 201 yards and three touchdowns. The Gamecocks won despite netting only 75 rushing yards on 35 attempts. South Carolina is now only one game behind Mizzou in the loss column, and the Gamecocks own the tie-breaker between the two teams. Next Week: Mississippi State|
|6||2||Missouri (7-1, 3-1): Missouri is 7-1 overall and alone in first place in the SEC East. That’s the good news. The bad news? The Tigers blew a golden opportunity to all but wrap up the division title by blowing a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter to South Carolina on Saturday night. Maty Mauk, in his second career start, only completed 10-of-25 passes but those 10 completions went for 249 yards — thanks in part to a 96-yard catch-and-run by L’Damian Washington in the second quarter. The Mizzou defense did a great job against the run, holding South Carolina to 75 yards on 35 carries for a 2.1-yard average. However, the Gamecocks passed for 423 yards on 35 completions, including some huge throws from Shaw in the second half. Next: Tennessee|
|7||7||Georgia (4-3, 3-2): The Bulldogs used the week off to get healthy — both physically and mentally — following their loss at Vanderbilt. Georgia hopes to have star tailback Todd Gurley back in the lineup. The All-American has missed three straight games due a high-ankle sprain. Next Week: vs. Florida|
Ole Miss (5-3, 2-3): After a grueling three-week stretch that featured trips to Alabama and Auburn and a home game with Texas A&M, the Rebels stepped out of SEC play and cruised past Idaho 59-14 in Oxford. Ole Miss outgained Idaho 572-to-253 with a balanced attack that produced 280 yards passing and 292 yards rushing. Sophomore tailback I’Tavius Mathers led the way with 138 yards on 14 carries. Next Week: Bye
|9||9||Florida (4-3, 3-2): The Gators had a bye to regroup after their troubling 36-17 loss at Missouri two weeks ago. Will Muschamp’s team, which has dealt with a slew of key injuries on both sides of the ball, heads to Jacksonville next week to take on rival Georgia. The Gators have lost two straight in the series for the first time since the late 1980s. Next Week: vs. Georgia.|
|10||10||Tennessee (4-4, 1-3): Tennessee’s hopes for an upset in Tuscaloosa ended well before halftime. The Vols trailed No. 1 Alabama 28-0 after four possessions and never threatened the rest of the way. The big story for Tennessee was the debut of true freshman quarterback Joshua Dobbs. The staff was hoping to redshirt both true freshman — Dobbs and Riley Ferguson — but Butch Jones was forced to go to the bullpen when Justin Worley went down with a hand injury late in the first half. Dobbs made his debut in the third quarter and threw for 75 yards on 12 attempts. Tennessee has lost 10 straight SEC road games, dating back to November 2010. Next Week: at Missouri|
|11||11||Vanderbilt (4-3, 1-4): You might think that holding Johnny Manziel to a career-low 11 yards rushing would have been a positive development for the Vanderbilt defense. You would be wrong. Led by an extremely efficient passing attack — three A&M quarterbacks combined to throw for 377 yards and average 8.2 yards per attempt — Texas A&M rolled up 556 yards of offense in a 56-24 win over the Dores in College Station. Vanderbilt trailed 28-0 early in the second quarter but scored 17 straight points to cut the deficit to 11 points at the half. The fun ended on the first play of the third quarter when Howard Matthews stepped in front of a Patton Robinette pass and returned the ball 26 yards for a score. Robinette, making his first start, completed 15-of-28 passes for 215 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Next Week: Bye|
|12||12||Mississippi State (4-3, 1-2): It was a struggle, but Mississippi State picked up its first SEC win of the season, holding on to beat Kentucky 28-22 in Starkville on Thursday night. The Bulldogs dominated the game statistically — outgaining UK 447-to-325 — but needed a defensive stop in the last minute to preserve the win. Sophomore Dak Prescott, back as the starter at quarterback after giving way to Tyler Russell the previous week, threw for 268 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. State converted 10-of-18 on third down, did not commit a turnover and scored a touchdown on all three of its trips to the red zone. Next Week:|
|13||13||Mississippi State (4-3, 1-2): It was a struggle, but Mississippi State picked up its first SEC win of the season, holding on to beat Kentucky 28-22 in Starkville on Thursday night. The Bulldogs dominated the game statistically — outgaining UK 447-to-325 — but needed a defensive stop in the last minute to preserve the win. Sophomore Dak Prescott, back as the starter at quarterback after giving way to Tyler Russell the previous week, threw for 268 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. State converted 10-of-18 on third down, did not commit a turnover and scored a touchdown on all three of its trips to the red zone. Next Week:|
|14||14||Kentucky (1-6, 0-4): Kentucky put itself in position to record its first SEC win the of the season, but the Wildcats’ final drive stalled at the Mississippi State 29-yard line when Maxwell Smith’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete. The result was a 28-22 loss in Starkville — the Cats’ 12th-straight defeat in SEC play. With Jalen Whitlow slowed by an ankle injury, Smith got the start at quarterback. The sophomore did not throw an interception but threw for only 160 yards on 34 attempts. Whitlow played sparingly, completing his only passing attempt (for five yards) and rushing for 12 yards on four attempts. Raymond Sanders rushed for a season-high 86 yards on 15 carries. Next Week: Alabama State|
SEC Week 9 Recap and Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Connor Shaw, South Carolina
Shaw, nursing a knee injury, came off the bench in the third quarter with his team trailing 17-0. About two hours later, the Gamecocks walked off the turf at Faurot Field with an improbable 27-24 win in double-overtime. Shaw was the man most responsible for Carolina’s season-saving win. The senior completed 20-of-29 passes for 201 yards with three touchdowns — despite not playing the entire first half. The Gamecocks tied the game when Shaw connected with Nick Jones on a 2-yard touchdown with 42 seconds remaining in regulation and sent the game into a second overtime when Shaw found Bruce Ellington for a TD on 4th-and-goal from the 15.
Defensive Player of the Week: Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
Quarles, one of the more underrated players in the SEC, was disruptive in the middle of the South Carolina defensive line. The junior from Hodges, S.C., recorded six tackles, including three for a loss (and two sacks) in the Gamecocks’ double-overtime win over Missouri. Quarles leads South Carolina with 10.0 tackles for a loss and 7.0 sacks — five more than his more famous teammate, Jadeveon Clowney.
Team of the Week: South Carolina
South Carolina kept its SEC East title hopes alive with an improbable comeback win at Missouri. The Gamecocks, who entered the day two games behind Mizzou in the loss column, rallied from 17-0 down in the fourth quarter and eventually won the game in the second overtime when MU’s Andrew Baggett missed a 24-yard field goal. South Carolina is now 4-2 in league play with games remaining at home against Mississippi State and Florida. Missouri, now 3-1, still has to play Tennessee and Texas A&M at home and Ole Miss and Kentucky on the road. Florida and Georgia both have two losses as well.
Coordinator of the Week: Mark Snyder, Texas A&M
The SEC’s worst defense — at least statistically — had its best day of the season on Saturday afternoon. Texas A&M, which had allowed an average of 532.0 yards in SEC action, limited Vanderbilt to 329 yards and only 4.3 yards per play. The Commodores were playing with a redshirt freshman quarterback (Patton Robinette) making his first start, but this was still an impressive performance by the Aggies’ defense. A&M had allowed at least 250 yards rushing in every SEC game this season — including 379 in the loss to Auburn two weeks ago — but held Vanderbilt to 95 on 44 attempts.
Freshman of the Week: Jeremy Johnson, Auburn
Johnson, a true freshman from Montgomery, Ala., was forced into action when Nick Marshall went down with a shoulder injury early in the second quarter. Johnson responded, completing 10-of-16 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns in the Tigers’ 45-10 win over Florida Atlantic. Johnson connected with Sammie Coates for a 36-yard TD on his first play of the game and then found Coates again for a 67-yard score later in the second quarter.
• Johnny Manziel, playing through a shoulder injury, had career-lows in rushing yards (11) and rushing attempts (four) — and two of his attempts came on sacks. Prior to Saturday, Manziel’s fewest carries and yards both game in the 2013 season-opener against Rice, when he had 19 yards on six attempts in one half of action.
• Alabama has not allowed more than two touchdowns to an SEC team not named Texas A&M in the regular season since the 2010 Iron Bowl loss to Auburn. In the last two regular seasons, Alabama has given up 71 points in two games against Texas A&M and a total of 78 points in its other 11 SEC games.
• Missouri let a late lead slip away, but the Tigers continue to get solid play from their defensive line. Mizzou held South Carolina to only 75 yards rushing on 35 attempts for a 2.1-yard average. Mike Davis, who entered the day as the SEC’s leading rusher, was held to a season-low 51 yards on 19 carries. His previous low was 77 yards on 17 carries against Vanderbilt.
• It’s a small consolation for Tennessee — which lost 45-10 at Alabama — but the Vols had to be pleased with the play of tailbacks Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane. The two combined for 90 yards on 19 carries (a 4.7-yard average) against the SEC’s top rushing defense. Neal leads the team with 763 yards and nine rushing touchdowns.
• Alabama wide receiver Kevin Norwood had the first 100-yard game of his career on Saturday afternoon. The senior caught a season-high six passes for 112 yards in Bama’s win over Tennessee.