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A solid 14-3 halftime lead for the Tennessee Volunteers turned into a rather shakier-looking 17-10 lead late in the fourth quarter after Vanderbilt’s backup QB, Jared Funk, tossed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Matthews. But Tennessee marched down the field on their ensuing drive, and on 4th-and-2 from the Vanderbilt 28, UT running back Tauren Poole squirted through a scrum of defenders and raced into the end zone, moving the lead back to two touchdowns and effectively putting the game out of reach for a Vandy offense that had accomplished precious little for most of the night.
Vandy is now 2-9 and needs a win over Wake Forest next week to avoid a second straight two-win season — not an inspiring position to be in just two years after Bobby Johnson led the Commodores to their first bowl game (and first postseason win) since the early 1980s. Tennessee, meanwhile, has reason to feel quite a bit better about themselves. After a soul-crushing 2-6 start, the Vols have now won three straight, and with a win in Knoxville next week over Kentucky — whom they’ve beaten 25 straight times — the Vols will be bowl-eligible in Derek Dooley’s first season as head coach.
Anchor of Gold will soon have a recap of the game for Vandy fans. Vol partisans can head over to Rocky Top Talk for the Big Orange take on the game and how it sets the Vols up for the critical matchup with Kentucky next Saturday.
After Mississippi State erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime, the Razorbacks and Bulldogs traded fruitless possessions in the first extra period. MSU’s Vick Ballard rushed all the way down to the Arkansas 1 before fumbling the ball out of the end zone for a touchback; Arkansas then stalled at the MSU 21 and watched Zack Hocker miss a 38-yard field goal wide left.
In the second set of OT possessions, Arkansas went first and moved swiftly down the field, with the drive culminating in a 7-yard TD pass from Ryan Mallett to a wide-open Knile Davis. Mississippi State moved down to the Arkansas 12 on their ensuing possession but stalled at 4th-and-7, and Chris Relf was sacked on the final play to seal the win for the Razorbacks.
Now 9-2, Arkansas has an outside chance at an at-large BCS berth if they can upset LSU in Fayetteville next week. Head over to Arkansas Expats for the full rundown on tonight’s game and the lookahead to the big matchup with LSU next Saturday; For Whom the Cowbell Tolls will have the post-mortem from the Mississippi State side and the inside dope on the upcoming Egg Bowl grudge match with Ole Miss.
Arkansas Razorbacks at Mississippi State Bulldogs: Arkansas grabbed a 10-point lead with two touchdowns in the second half — the first an 88-yard catch-and-run from Ryan Mallett to Jarius Wright late in the third quarter, the other a 1-yard Knile Davis rush — but Mississippi State answered with a Vick Ballard touchdown run late in the fourth, and then Derek DiPasquale tied the game with a 25-yard field goal with four seconds left in regulation. Mississippi State gets the ball first in overtime.
Tennessee Volunteers at Vanderbilt Commodores: Tennessee took a 14-3 lead into halftime and hasn’t done much since, but fortunately for the Vols, Vanderbilt hasn’t either. The Commodores have started drives at the Tennessee 20 (after a fumble) and the Vandy 47 (after Tyler Bray’s second interception of the game) but had nothing to show for it; Vandy’s evening can be pretty well summed up by a fourth-quarter sequence in which VU appeared to score a touchdown but had it called back due to an illegal touching penalty — and then tossed an interception to Tennessee’s Janzen Jackson just a few plays later. If the Vols hold on, it won’t be a pretty win, but they’ll take it, particularly considering that it’ll bring them within one win of bowl eligibility after a painful 2-6 start.
Arkansas Razorbacks at Mississippi State Bulldogs: We have an upset alert in Starkville, as #22 Mississippi State leads #13 Arkansas at halftime, 21-17. We’re not just on upset alert, we’re in total Bizarro World: State QB Chris Relf is actually having a better day than Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett — more yards (136 to 103) and a better completion percentage — while Arkansas has a slight edge in rushing thanks to Knile Davis’ 135 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries. In the first quarter, Davis had what is so far the game’s leading candidate for ESPN’s top plays of the week with a 62-yard touchdown sprint.
Tennessee Volunteers at Vanderbilt Commodores: The Vols haven’t had quite the offensive success that either of the previous two teams have had, but they’ve done enough on both sides of the ball to carry a 14-3 lead into intermission. QB Tyler Bray has tossed his first pick in three weeks, but he’s also thrown both of UT’s touchdown passes. The Tennessee defense, meanwhile, has held Vandy to only 124 total yards in the first half.
Arkansas Razorbacks at Mississippi State Bulldogs: MSU quarterback Chris Relf kicked off the scoring with a 23-yard scramble into the end zone early in the first quarter, and then the prolific Arkansas offense took it from there, scoring on a 62-yard Knile Davis run and a 25-yard pass from Ryan Mallett to D.J. Williams. State tied it up early in the second period, though, with a 1-yard Vick Ballard TD run. Give credit to Dan Mullen for going for it (and succeeding) on 4th-and-2 from his own 37 earlier on in the drive.
Tennessee Volunteers at Vanderbilt Commodores: The offensive fireworks have been muted by comparison in Nashville, but Tennessee’s freshman-phenom receiver just caught a 15-yard TD pass to open the scoring with 4:12 left in the first quarter. The pass was QB Tyler Bray’s 11th touchdown pass since taking over the starting job full-time against South Carolina three weeks ago, and he’s only thrown one pick (to the Gamecocks) in that time.
The game ended as it began — with not a lot of defense, and a Jeremiah Masoli interception. LSU and Ole Miss traded touchdowns for basically the entirety of a wild 32-point fourth quarter, but LSU got the last word with a 7-yard Stevan Ridley touchdown run with less than a minute remaining. A pair of failed Hail Mary attempts by the Rebels’ Masoli, the second of which ended up in the hands of LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, sealed the win for the Tigers.
Peterson was the star of the game with numerous clutch defensive plays, as well as five kickoff returns that totaled 121 yards. But give some credit to LSU’s much-maligned Jordan Jefferson, too, who completed 13 of 17 passes for a season-high 254 yards (nearly as many yards as his last four games combined), a TD and a pick and also rushed nine times for 45 yards and another score.
With the loss, Ole Miss is eliminated from bowl contention for the first time in Houston Nutt’s tenure, something that’s sure to go over swell with Rebel fans. LSU, meanwhile, will likely retain a top-six BCS ranking and can make an at-large BCS bid all but official with a win at 13th-ranked Arkansas next week.
LSU still has a lead over Ole Miss, but they’re hardly out of the woods yet. The Rebels’ Brandon Bolden scampered around right end for a three-yard TD late in the third quarter, giving Ole Miss its first lead of the game, 24-23. LSU answered on the second play of the final period, with Jordan Jefferson pounding it into the end zone from three yards out.
Ole Miss has only cobbled together 251 yards of offense so far, but they’ve gotten some help from a couple nicely timed takeaways and from the powerful running of Bolden, who’s up to 87 yards and a pair of TDs on 14 carries. They’ve also found a definite spark in the kickoff-return game. Jefferson, meanwhile, has been surprisingly clutch, with 200 yards on 10-of-14 passing.
Lot of hard hits in this game, most of them legal. But it’s clear that nobody on the Ole Miss side is conceding this one without a fight.
LSU is the top-five team, Ole Miss is the team that had 50 hung on it by Tennessee last week — and yet the Rebels are hanging in there, trailing LSU by only a field goal in Baton Rouge as the marching bands hit the field for halftime.
After an atrocious performance in Knoxville, Jeremiah Masoli has moved up to “merely mediocre” (5-of-9, 49 yards, no TDs, one pick), but tailback Brandon Bolden is carrying the offense quite nicely with a 66 yards and a score on nine carries. In what can only be viewed as a further indictment of the Rebels’ defense, the rest of the offensive stars are on LSU’s side of the field: QB Jordan Jefferson is a tidy 5-of-7 for 117 yards and no turnovers, while running back Stevan Ridley has rung up 68 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
As for your defensive stars, well, that discussion begins and ends with LSU’s Craig Loston, who effectively negated the existence of Ole Miss’ Lionel Breaux while blocking on a punt return in the second quarter. Loston may be made of pure energy, a la Dr. Manhattan in “Watchmen.” We’re looking into it.
Here’s how the LSU-Ole Miss game has gone so far: Jeremiah Masoli is intercepted on his first pass of the game, setting up LSU for a touchdown on a 19-yard drive. Ole Miss returns the subsequent kickoff to midfield, then scores immediately on a 50-yard run by Brandon Bolden. LSU scores a field goal on their next drive, then Ole Miss returns another kickoff within loogie-hocking distance of the 50-yard line and scores a field goal of their own. Both teams traded punts toward the end of the first quarter, but LSU scored on a two-yard Stevan Ridley run on the second play of the second quarter to go up 17-10.
Whew! LSU’s D has stiffened up on the current Rebel drive, stopping the Rebs dead in their tracks at the Mississippi 17. Still, Ole Miss doesn’t seem all that intimidated by an LSU squad who’s in prime position for an at-large BCS bid.
They may have been knocked from SEC title contention, but Florida wasn’t about to let Appalachian State pull another shocker over a name-brand FBS team. Propelled by a season-high 310 rushing yards, the Gators scored the first 35 points in the game and coasted to a 48-10 win in the Swamp.
Though the season has been a major disappointment for the Gators, they’ve still got a chance to make their case for a decent bowl berth with a win at Florida State next week. Follow Alligator Army for detailed info on the win over App State and updates on where Florida’s bowl destination might ultimately lie.
Ordinarily this would be the point in the season where South Carolina, regardless of its prior record, does a belly-flop and tries its level best to play its way into the Birmingham Bowl. Not this year: Just a week after beating Florida on the road to clinch their first-ever SEC title, the Gamecocks leaped on a not-terrible Troy team for a 35-0 lead just minutes into the second quarter and coasted to a 69-24 finish. Star of the game: running back Marcus Lattimore, who continued to make a case for SEC Freshman of the Year honors after running for 102 yards and three scores on a mere seven carries.
The Gamecocks now turn their sights to Clemson, where they play the Tigers in what is basically a mirror image of the situation exactly one year ago. In 2009, Clemson had clinched an ACC division title but got caught looking ahead to the conference title game and received a pummeling from the ‘Cocks in Columbia; this year it’ll be the Gamecocks who have to avoid looking ahead to an unprecedented title-game trip. But if Steve Spurrier can not only guide his team out of their traditional November slump and fashion them into SEC title contenders, anything’s possible.
Stay tuned to Garnet and Black Attack for a recap of the Troy blowout and previews of what’s to come for the Gamecocks.
Troy Trojans at South Carolina Gamecocks: The SEC East champion Gamecocks put 56 on Troy in the first half, leading 59-7 early in the third. RB Marcus Lattimore posted 102 yards and three touchdowns on seven carries, and QB Stephen Garcia left with 198 yards and two touchdowns. Troy has 146 total yards, which isn’t all that bad, but has turned the ball over four times, which is really bad.
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Appalachian St. Mountaineers at Florida Gators: No worries about a letdown against one of the nation’s best FCS programs, as the Gators are up 35-0 just after halftime. Their month-old offense is back after taking a week off, pouring on 391 yards, beating their game average by over 40 yards with almost two quarters to go.
So what happens to a three-QB offense once you get up by 40 on a FCS team? Do you put in the fourth- through sixth-string quarterbacks? If you get up by 80, do we get too see Mike Pouncey throwing some passes? What’s your contingency here, Urban Meyer?
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Mississippi Rebels at LSU Tigers -16.5: Ole Miss played awful last week, getting blown out by the Vols. Ole Miss has rarely not played awful. LSU has often played awful, but usually plays its best when doing so. This line is getting bigger and bigger, meaning this year’s edition of Houston Nutt’s annual upset surprise could simply be losing to the Tigers by 16. PICK: Ole Miss.
Arkansas Razorbacks -3 at Mississippi St. Bulldogs: Razorbacks QB Ryan Mallett is so tall, cowbell soundwaves won’t even reach his ears until the fourth quarter. Then he’ll start throwing interceptions willy nilly. This is how the Alabama Crimson Tide caused him to do just that in their game against him - those Tuscaloosa pom poms get mighty swishy when the wind is just right. PICK: MSU.
Tennessee Volunteers -9 at Vanderbilt Commodores: Beginning to suspect this year’s Vandy team is an especially bad Vandy team. Since the same can be said for this year’s Vols, treat this as if it’s any other vintage of Vols-Dores. PICK: Tennessee.
One thing everybody can feel good about: either the Tennessee Volunteers or Vanderbilt Commodores is guaranteed to finish this season, in which both schools lost their head coaches unexpectedly, with two SEC wins. Each school’s other win being over the Mississippi Rebels tempers the celebration somewhat, but Saturday night we pop [whatever alcohol Tennessee and Vandy people can agree on — any ideas?] bottles.
Vols QB Tyler Bray has thrown for 675 yards and eight touchdowns in Tennessee’s last two games, and Vandy is tied for 95th in the nation in pass defense. The other team ranked 95th? Ole Miss, one of the teams Bray just lit up. Not to get ahead of ourselves, but Tennessee gets the Kentucky Wildcats at home next week. Provided they get past the Dores, a win there would make them bowl eligible, believe it or not.
TV time: 7:30 on CSS.
The SEC’s best passing attack takes on one of its best scoring defenses and running games in a game quite possibly attended by Bill Bell, Kenny Rogers, and John Bond (ABC: Always Bewritingabout Cam). Both of these teams have lost to the Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers, with each having a close loss among that pair.
If America had ever heard of the Mississippi St. Bulldogs, they’d certainly be rooting for them over the Arkansas Razorbacks, a team America is also not familiar with. Early indicators suggest they did the right or at least prescribed thing in the Cam Newton kerfuffle, they have an especially lovable mascot and sideline tradition, and they’re the conference’s only perennial football underdog that doesn’t choose to be. Kentucky’s got hoops, and we all know Vanderbilt has such an endowment that it could bankroll an SEC title within a decade if it wanted to, right? Meanwhile, Bobby Petrino.
Again, I’m not telling you who to root for — just pointing out who America would fall for.
TV time: 7 on ESPN and ESPN3.
LSU Tigers coach Les Miles has started wavin’ flags and kissin’ babies in support of LSU’s BCS chances. If the Auburn Tigers fall, the Bayou Bengals have every reason to be considered for the BCS National Championship, especially with the TCU Horned Frogs’ national profile slipping and the question of whether we’re all really that comfortable with including the Boise St. Broncos in the big show.
But first! The Mississippi Rebels! And if that thing about Houston Nutt striking down top-ranked teams is ever going to happen, it’s going to happen once everybody’s already given up on it for the year, right? After a blistering at the hands of the otherwise helpless Tennessee Volunteers? When a team that’s gotten by on grass-fed executives calling perfectly lateral fake field goal bounce passes is a 16-point favorite, the time is right, children.
TV time: 3:30 on CBS.
Raise your hand if your idea of a cupcake is a 9-1 team whose only loss was on the road, in overtime, against a winning team. Hang on, don’t raise your hand yet. This school also beat the Michigan Wolverines in Michigan just a few years ago. Oh, and they’ve won their conference five years in a row, with three FCS national titles in there too. If your hand is in the air, you’re Greg McGarity, and you now work for a Florida Gators rival. #conspiracy
The Appalachian St. Mountaineers stand little chance in this game, provided Florida’s offense can … I don’t know, pretend they’re playing the Vanderbilt Commodores? Appy State is not afraid of anybody, and unless the Gators treat this one like a bowl game against the Penn St. Nittany Lions is on the line, the final score is going to be a little too close for comfort.
TV time: 12:30 on ESPN3.
Join Alligator Army for more on this game.
Here’s hoping South Carolina Gamecocks QB Stephen Garcia proclaims this the least important game in school history, prompting Steve Spurrier to instruct media to go ahead and listen to Stephen, fine, because you’re only making yourselves dumber by doing so. But let’s learn three facts about the Troy Trojans, Trojans from Troy.
TV time: 12:21, SEC Network or ESPN3.
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The 6-4 Georgia St. Panthers might actually be this week’s second-most overmatched Panthers team, but kudos to the 8-2 Alabama Crimson Tide for scheduling both the worst ACC team and the worst CAA team in the same season. The Panthers are the worst CAA team because they’re not even in it yet. Winless in conference! Can you believe it!
Georgia St.‘s best game so far might have been their one-score overtime loss to the Jacksonville St. Gamecocks, who beat the Mississippi Rebels in week one. Bama also beat Ole Miss, and really doesn’t get enough credit for doing that. Way to go, Bama.
If you don’t have a dog in this fight, consider rooting for Bill Curry to crack 100 yards against his former team. Hey, if the Kennesaw St. Owls can beat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets by double digits in basketball, GSU North can kick a third-quarter field goal against the Tide.
TV time: 7:30 Thursday on ESPNU.
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Your week 12 SEC football schedule. All times EST.
Georgia St. Panthers at No. 11 Alabama Crimson Tide, 7:30 Thursday, ESPNU: Bill Curry returns to his old stomped-upon grounds, taking his first-year program out to Tuscaloosa for a baptism in Nick Saban's duck pond and a nice bounty that'll go straight to upgrading that little shoebox of a stadium the Panthers play in.
Troy Trojans at No. 17 South Carolina Gamecocks, 12:21, SEC Network or ESPN3: Fresh off their SEC East title-clincher, the -- I don't really want to write about that. What I don't get is whose idea it was to name the team from Troy the Trojans. What would be the worst redundant team nickname? The Washington DC DCers, Walla Walla Walla Wallians, or Houston Texans?
Appalachian St. Mountaineers at Florida Gators, 12:30, ESPN3: Brilliant move by Florida here. Play one of the nation's best FCS programs instead of one of the many community colleges surrounding Gainesville -- no clue what the Gators think they're gaining by playing a really good cupcake. Is this the smart Greg McGarity scheduling philosophy we've heard so much about?
Mississippi Rebels at No. 5 LSU Tigers, 3:30, CBS: Houston Nutt is entering Les Miles' orbit, and has thus lost his last toehold on reality. Remember what a big deal we all made about Nutt facing the Auburn Tigers earlier in the year, and how he's always good for one inexplicable upset per season? Are we totally off that train for this game?
Tennessee Volunteers at Vanderbilt Commodores, 7:30: Don't look now, but Derek Dooley might be raring to go on a SEC win streak. Not that I need to tell you to not look now, as there will be much better games to look at on Saturday night.
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