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Georgia takes control of SEC East; Bama rules the West
There was a big shakeup in the SEC East with Georgia seizing control of the division race after beating rival Florida in Jacksonville. The Dawgs have jumped up to No. 3 in the weekly power rankings. Ole Miss made a big move, as well, from No. 11 to No. 8 after beating Arkansas in Fayetteville on a last-second field goal.
Post-Week 9 Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. AJ McCarron, Alabama — McCarron continues to lead the nation in passing efficiency after completing 16-of-23 for 208 yards with two touchdowns and no picks in the Crimson Tide’s 38–7 win over Mississippi State.
2. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M — Manziel was back to his old play-making self in the Aggies’ 63–21 win at Auburn. Johnny Football threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 90 yards and three scores to lead an offense that rolled up over 300 yards rushing and passing.
3. T.J. Yeldon, Alabama — The true freshman is emerging as Alabama’s top rushing threat. Yeldon ran for 84 yards on only 10 carries in the win over Mississippi State and now has 357 yards and five touchdowns in the last three games. He is averaging 7.0 yards per carry, the most by an SEC back with more than 40 carries.
Post-Week 9 Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina — Clowney delivered the play of the game in South Carolina’s 38–35 win over Tennessee. The Vols drove to the South Carolina 19-yard line trailing by only three points, but Clowney forced a fumble at the 1:08 mark that basically ended the game. In nine games, Clowney has 50 tackles (15.0 for a loss) and 8.5 sacks.
2. Jarvis Jones, Georgia — Jones made plays all over the field in the Bulldogs’ upset over Florida. The junior linebacker recorded 13 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles. He helped secure the win by knocking the ball out of Jordan Reed’s hands at the 5-yard line with 2:05 remaining and Georgia holding an eight-point lead. Sanders Cummings recovered the ball in the end zone to secure the win.
3. Kevin Minter, LSU — The junior middle linebacker has 75 tackles and three sacks for the season. LSU was off last season.
Post-Week 9 Coach of the Year Standings
1. Nick Saban, Alabama — Alabama is 8–0 overall and 5–0 in the SEC after its 38–7 win over Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide have won every game by at least 19 points and have not led by less than 13 points at any point in the second half.
2. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss — After going winless in the SEC last season, Ole Miss is now 2–2 in the league after winning at Arkansas 30–27 on Saturday. The Rebels are one of the most improved teams in the nation.
3. Will Muschamp, Florida — The Gators suffered their first loss of the season last weekend, but this is still a much-improved team. The Gators have been outstanding on defense and efficient (until Saturday) on offense. Muschamp has quieted the critics who questioned whether he was the right man for the job.
Post-Week 9 SEC Power Rankings
1. Alabama (8–0, 5–0 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 1
Week 8 result: Beat Mississippi State 38–7
Alabama handed Mississippi State its first loss of the season — and did so in convincing fashion. The Tide relied on a balanced attack (as usual) and won the turnover battle (as usual) en route to its 12th straight win. AJ McCarron completed 16-of-23 passes for 208 yards with two touchdowns, and has now thrown 177 passes this season without an interception. T.J. Yeldon was the leading rusher for Bama, averaging 8.4 yards on his 10 attempts. Alabama still has not given up more than 14 points in any game this season.
Next week: at LSU
2. LSU (7–1, 3–1 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 3
Week 8 result: Bye
LSU has a chance to play its way back into the national title race with No. 1 Alabama coming to town on Saturday night. The Tigers, who have won their three SEC games by a total of nine points, will need to make plays in the passing game to beat Alabama. You can’t beat the Tide simply by running the ball.
Next week: Alabama
3. Georgia (7–1, 5–1 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 5
Week 8 result: Beat Florida 17–9
Georgia seized control of the SEC East with a surprising 17–9 win over Florida in Jacksonville. It wasn’t always aesthetically pleasing — the two teams combined for nine turnovers and 24 penalties — but it was a huge win for a Georgia team that has failed to play up to its potential for most of the 2012 season. Freshman Todd Gurley was the only offensive standout for either team, rushing for 118 yards on 27 carries. Quarterback Aaron Murray, who was so sharp in the win at Kentucky, completed only 50 percent of his passes and was intercepted three times. It was his first game with more than one pick this season.
Next week: Ole Miss
4. Florida (7–1, 6–1 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 2
Week 8 result: Lost to Georgia 17–9
The Gators’ SEC East title hopes took a huge hit with a 17-9 loss to Georgia. Florida needs to beat Missouri next week and hope Georgia loses to either Ole Miss or Auburn. The Gators had committed a total of four turnovers in their first seven games but lost four fumbles and threw two interceptions on Saturday. Florida entered the game averaging 212.7 yards rushing but netted only 81 on 41 attempts. Jeff Driskel threw for more than 100 yards for the first time in four games, but he completed only 53.8 percent of his passes and was picked off twice. More important, he was not much a threat running the ball — something that has been a huge part of the Florida attack.
Next week: Missouri
5. South Carolina (7–2, 5–2 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 4
Week 8 result: Beat Tennessee 38–35
South Carolina has its first-ever three-game winning streak against Tennessee, but the story in Columbia was the horrific injury to tailback Marcus Lattimore. The junior, who tore his ACL last season, suffered a devastating knee injury while planting his right leg in the second quarter. Both teams were visibly shaken by the injury, but play resumed and South Carolina held on for the three-point win in what turned out to be a highly entertaining second half. The Gamecock defense gave up a season-high 472 yards but made the key plays down the stretch to preserve the victory. Connor Shaw threw for a career-high 356 yards and a season-high three touchdowns to lead the Carolina offense.
Next week: Bye
6. Mississippi State (7–1, 3–1 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 6
Week 8 result: Lost to Alabama 38–7
Mississippi State hoped to be the first team to make Alabama sweat in the second half. Didn’t happen. The Bulldogs fell behind 14–0 after one quarter and 24–0 at the half on their way to their first loss of the season. MSU netted only 47 yards rushing against the ferocious Alabama defense. LaDarius Perkins, who had three straight 100-yard games prior to Saturday, netted only 38 yards on 15 carries. The highly touted State secondary had trouble slowing down the Alabama passing attack. Tide quarterback AJ McCarron threw for 208 yards (and averaged 9.0 yards per attempt) with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Next week: Texas A&M
7. Texas A&M (6–2, 3–2 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 7
Week 8 result: Beat Auburn 63–21
The Aggies’ offense got back on track against the struggling Auburn Tigers. Texas A&M rolled up 671 yards of offense — including over 300 on the ground and through the air — while picking up its fourth road win of the season. Johnny Manziel, as usual, led the way with 260 yards passing and two touchdowns and added 90 yards rushing and three scores on the ground. Texas A&M is now averaging 522.4 yards in its five SEC games, the most in the league vs. conference opponents.
Next week: at Mississippi State
8. Ole Miss (5–3, 2–2 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 11
Week 8 result: Beat Arkansas 30–27
We knew Ole Miss was vastly improved. Now the Rebels have a quality win to prove it. Bryson Rose drilled a 31-yard field goal as time expired to give the Rebels their first SEC road win since 2009. Ole Miss is now one win away from bowl-eligibility under first-year coach Hugh Freeze, who now has to be in the discussion for SEC Coach of the Year honors. Bo Wallace completed 29-of-37 for 278 yards and one touchdown. Wallace, a junior college transfer, led Ole Miss on an eight-play, 61-yard drive in two minutes to set up the game-winning field goal.
Next week: at Georgia
9. Tennessee (3–5, 0–5 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 8
Week 8 result: Lost to South Carolina 38–35
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley summed it up best after his team dropped 0–5 in the SEC for the third straight season. “It’s the same old song and dance at the SEC level,” said Dooley, who has yet to beat a ranked team in his two-plus years at Tennessee. There were plenty of positives for the Vols — Tyler Bray threw for 368 yards and four touchdowns, and Zach Rogers had 107 yards receiving and three scores — but in the end they simply couldn’t make the big play when it mattered most. Trailing by three points, UT drove deep into South Carolina territory in the final minutes, but Bray lost a fumble after being hit by Jadeveon Clowney. “We had a chance to win, and they made a great play,” Dooley said.
Next week: Troy
10. Vanderbilt (4–4, 2–3 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 9
Week 8 result: Beat UMass 49–7
The Commodores overcame a slow start — they led only 7–0 late in the second quarter — but dominated winless UMass in the second half to even their record at 4–4. Vanderbilt broke the game open with four touchdowns in a six-minute span in the third quarter. Quarterback Jordan Rodgers was sharp, completing 17-of-21 for 217 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. The Dores were forced to go most of the game without Zac Stacy, who went down with an ankle injury in the first quarter. Stacy is expected to return next week vs. Kentucky.
Next week: at Kentucky
11. Arkansas (3–5, 2–3 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 10
Week 8 result: Lost to Ole Miss 30–27
Was Arkansas turning the corner after winning two straight? Or did the Hogs just take advantage of a soft spot in the schedule with wins over Auburn and Kentucky? I think it’s safe to say it was the latter. The Hogs’ modest winning streak was snapped with a 30–27 loss at home to surging Ole Miss. Arkansas outgained the Rebs 464 to 355 but was unable to get key stops late in the game. After the Razorbacks tied the game on a Dennis Johnson 5-yard run with 2:44 remaining, Ole Miss drove 61 yards for the game-winning field goal. Arkansas, now 3–5, must win three of its final four games to become bowl-eligible.
Next week: Tulsa
12. Missouri (4–4, 1–4 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 12
Week 8 result: Beat Kentucky 33–10
It took longer than most Missouri fans would have liked, but the Tigers picked up their first SEC win on Saturday. Mizzou scored 33 points despite gaining only 273 yard thanks in part to an opportunistic offense that converted all three of Kentucky’s lost fumbles into touchdowns. James Franklin, who missed most of the Vanderbilt game and all of the Alabama game with a knee injury, was forced into action in the second half after redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser was intercepted on consecutive possessions. Franklin threw for only 16 yards and did not have a rushing attempt in his five possessions. Kendial Lawrence had his first 100-yard game vs. an SEC foe, gaining 108 yards on 23 carries.
Next week: at Florida
13. Auburn (1–7, 0–6 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 13
Week 8 result: Lost to Texas A&M 63–21
The Tigers hit a new low on Saturday night, losing by 42 points at home to SEC newcomer Texas A&M. The Aggies rolled up 671 yards of offense — the most ever given up any Auburn team — and scored seven touchdowns on the eight possessions played by starting quarterback Johnny Manziel. Clint Moseley got the start at quarterback for the third straight week but only attempted one pass. Kiehl Frazier and Jonthan Wallace both saw significant action in relief. Wallace, a true freshman who has been used almost exclusively as a Wildcat quarterback, completed 6-of-9 for 122 yards and two touchdowns and added 71 yards rushing.
Next week: New Mexico State
14. Kentucky (1–8, 0–6 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 14
Week 8 result: Lost to Missouri 33–10
Kentucky’s offense took a step back on Saturday after a relatively strong showing in a 29–24 loss to Georgia two weeks ago. The Wildcats gained only 179 total yards — their fifth SEC game with under 250 — and were shut out in the second half in a 33–10 loss at Missouri. Kentucky had three drives in the first quarter that went for 50 yards or more but were completely shut down in the second half. The Cats’ longest drive in the final two quarters went for 20 yards; their other six possessions either ended with a punt after three plays or a turnover. True freshman quarterback Patrick Towles returned after missing two games with an ankle injury. He completed 1-of-4 for two yards.
Next week: Vanderbilt