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Spurrier and the Cocks will make their first trip to the SEC title game.

Spurrier and the Cocks will make their first trip to the SEC title game.

The scene and location sure felt familiar, the Ball Coach being doused with Gatorade and carried off Florida Field. But in black, with a chicken on his polo? We knew it would be fitting for Steve Spurrier to go back to the Swamp and deliver South Carolina’s first SEC East title. But 36–14?

The Gators don’t lose games like that, and they certainly don’t lose them at home. The Gamecocks don’t win games like that, and they certainly don’t win them in November.

The Twilight Zone of the division has arrived, it seems, with South Carolina earning a berth to Atlanta. No, in reality, Marcus Lattimore has arrived. The three teams the Gamecocks needed to climb over in the East — the only three to win the division since the split in 1992 — were Georgia, Tennessee and Florida. Well, Lattimore rushed for 182 yards against Georgia, 184 against Tennessee and 212 against Florida. That’s 578 yards against the division’s traditional powers. And three wins against them. UT’s Derek Dooley called Lattimore “Secretariat.” Urban Meyer didn’t even want to mention him afterward.

“It’s got to be frustrating for people to watch him run up and down the field,” Gamecocks quarterback Stephen Garcia said.

South Carolina led 20–7 in the first half at Auburn on Sept. 25 before Garcia fumbled twice in the fourth quarter to help the Tigers rally for a 35–27 victory. Let’s see if the Gamecocks have anything for the encore in three weeks.

Lattimore had just 33 yards on 14 carries in the first meeting. Keep that in mind.

Scoreboard
Tennessee 52, Ole Miss 14
Kentucky 38, Vanderbilt 20
Auburn 49, Georgia 31
Arkansas 58, UTEP 21
LSU 51, UL Monroe 0
South Carolina 36, Florida 14
Alabama 30, Mississippi State 10

THUMBS UP

• Like in that game, Auburn was up to its old trick Saturday against Georgia of starting slow and then coming on oh-so-strong in the final quarter or two. Cam Newton was Cam Newton. The guy is unbelievable on third-and-short. Every bit the master of conversions that Tim Tebow ever was. And he is a better thrower than Tebow. The touchdowns to Philip Lutzenkirchen were darts. Newton missed just two throws in the first half. The first was a deflected interception that went through the hands of young receiver Emory Blake. The second was a deep ball that Mario Fannin alligator-armed.

Newton’s running ability is so special that it often masks how good of a passer he is most of the time. Of course, his ability to run does open that up quite a bit. Seriously, the only thing that can stop this guy is the NCAA’s rulebook.

• Randall Cobb reminded us all he is very good, running for 170 yards against Vanderbilt on just 10 carries, aided by a 73-yard touchdown run. He added 56 receiving yards as well. Kentucky fans are wondering if that’s the last they’ll see of Cobb at Commonwealth Stadium. He’s hinted recently about the idea of leaving early. And, well, he’s ready.

• Alabama finally looked like Alabama again, physically dominating Saturday against Mississippi State. Even without Trent Richardson, the Tide balanced its runs and carries through seven different players for 175 yards. Mark Ingram also had a 78-yard touchdown on a screen pass, showing some speed that, frankly, has been lacking this season. (You almost forget he’s there, don’t you? Abnormal for a Heisman winner.)

The Tide defense was swarming and swallowed up what speed Mississippi State has recruited and developed. It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Alabama favored in two weeks when it hosts Auburn. The Tigers have the week off before the Iron Bowl. Bama, playing Georgia State on Thursday, might as well.

• Is this when we ask why Tyler Bray didn’t start playing until a couple of weeks ago? Maybe he wasn’t ready, but he sure looks that way now for Tennessee.

THUMBS DOWN
• That Ughban Meyer offense showed up again, and at an incredibly inopportune time. The Gators were just fooling themselves if they thought they got well against Vanderbilt. (Besides, special teams and defensive plays led to points and short fields in that game.) You’ve got to feel for John Brantley at this point, because his coaches are sitting idly while he’s eaten alive by opposing teams — and the home fans. This isn’t Brantley’s fault. He’s not built for the scheme that Florida insists on running. The world, beyond Meyer and Steve Addazio, knows that. Brantley has to know that.

You know what teams do when they have a good quarterback — or running back or receiver — who doesn’t quite fit into a system? They adjust the system. Florida’s offense, which had 67 yards through three quarters Saturday, is so bad that it probably uses that hurry-up stuff just to get off the field faster. It’s embarrassing that Meyer can’t find something that works, considering the amount of talented players in his offensive meetings.

• Things got chippy in the final quarter between Auburn and Georgia. It’s unfortunate. And it’s Nick Fairley’s fault. The Auburn D-tackle, an outstanding player, needs to tone it down. This personal assault on quarterbacks — especially after plays are over — needs to stop.

Georgia’s players retaliated late in the game, which is certainly stooping to the opponent’s level. But after watching Fairley unfairly put his helmet in Aaron Murray’s back, who wouldn’t be chapped?

• LSU and The Hat won 51–0. That’s boring. The Tigers are back in SEC action the next two weeks, against Ole Miss and Arkansas. We’re hopeful that will provide more Miles theater. And punchlines.

Stud of the Week
Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina RB. The league’s top statistical running back carried the Gamecocks to Atlanta.

Dud of the Week
Urban Meyer, Florida coach. That was your gameplan? Really?

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Athlon recaps the week of action in the SEC. The South Carolina Gamecocks clinched their first ever trip to Atlanta. So did Auburn.

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