Looking at the SEC games on the first weekend of October, we were treated to some of the more close outcomes than were expected. Missouri had the number one ranked team in the country on the ropes for three quarters and then let Georgia pull away in the fourth quarter. Number two Alabama was only ahead by five against Arkansas before pulling away in the fourth quarter. That team on the Plains was up 17 to 0 against LSU, only to have the Bayou Bengals score 21 unanswered points and pull away in the second half… why am I noticing a trend here? Anyway, on we go into week numero cinco!
In the best game of the entire conference slate, number 14 Ole Miss continued their undefeated ride with a upset win over then-number seven (and previously unbeaten) Kentucky, 22-19. The Rebels took advantage of several mistakes by the Wildcats, including two fumbles by UK quarterback Will Levis. Both forced fumbles snuffed out potential game-winning drives inside the Ole Miss red zone. The Ole Miss defense stiffened in the fourth, forcing a turnover on downs earlier in the quarter before the two Kentucky turnovers that killed the Wildcats’ chances of climbing even higher in the polls. Offensively, the Rebels were paced by running back Quinshon Judkins, who rushed fifteen times for 106 yards, including a 48-yard score that put the Rebs up 14-0 in the first quarter. Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart was 15 of 29 passing for 213 yards. Kentucky’s Levis was 18 for 24 with 220 yards and two touchdowns, but he also had the two aforementioned lost fumbles and was called for intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety. Blame cannot be put on Levis alone, as the Wildcats’ kicker Matt Ruffolo missed an extra point and a 39 yard field goal. Also, an illegal motion penalty on Kentucky wiped out what would have been the go-ahead touchdown pass in the final minute of the game. One play later, Mississippi’s Jared Ivey sacked Levis and forced the fumble that defensive end Tavius Robinson recovered, effectively icing the game for the Rebels and dashing UK’s hopes of an undefeated season. Kentucky’s stock may have fallen a bit after this loss, but for Ole Miss, the Rebels continue to surprise sportswriters like yours truly with their winning ways. Up next on the Rebels schedule, a visit to Music City and Nashville, Tennessee, to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores. As for the Wildcats, they begin a two-week home stand against the South Carolina Gamecocks.
As for the biggest surprise of the SEC games this past weekend, how about the Missouri Tigers giving the number one Georgia Bulldogs a scare in Columbia? I can tell you, I totally did not expect anything of the sort, especially the way that the Dawgs had been dismantling their opponents throughout the season. Georgia struggled to score in this game, sleepwalking through three quarters and even trailing 22 to 12 at the 14 minute mark in the fourth quarter. But, this is Georgia we’re talking about. Running backs Kendall Milton and Daijun Edwards both scored touchdowns in the last few minutes in the final frame and the Bulldogs defense forced the Tigers to punt on their last two possessions to avoid the huge upset. Also avoiding a huge upset, the number two Alabama Crimson Tide cruised to a twenty-eight point lead before having the Arkansas Razorbacks come roaring back with twenty-three unanswered points to bring the score to 28 to 25. Yes, I know, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Alabama’s quarterback Bryce Young was hurt, but it still was an impressive display by the Red Hogs… at least for a while there. Alabama snapped out of it and did what Alabama does best, scoring touchdowns in bunches, and the Crimson Tide crushed the Razorbacks, 49-26. Arkansas did have the advantage in more first downs and the time of possession, but Alabama had more than 550 total yards of offense and of course, the advantage where it counts the most, on the scoreboard. With Georgia’s struggles against Missouri, the AP pollsters bumped the Bulldogs out of the top spot. And of course, guess who was elevated to the number one spot? I’ll give you two guesses. *sigh* For Georgia, the Bulldogs will have the opportunity to take out their frustrations on a reeling “Plainsmen” team in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry while the Crimson Tide have a matchup against the most hyped up game this preseason against Jimbo Fisher’s Texas A&M Aggies. You know that game has been circled on Nick Saban’s calendar for months. Whether he wants to admit or not, I get a certain “Wall Street” vibe from this game, Nick Saban as Michael Douglas’ sleek but slimy Gordon Gekko and Jimbo Fisher as Charlie Sheen’s Gekko admirer and devotee Bud Fox. Can the protégé beat the brainy mentor? If Saturday’s game between the Aggies and the Mississippi State Bulldogs is any indication, I’d have to say no.
Lastly, I did want to touch on the LSU-“That Team from the Plains” game as well. I didn’t actually get to see much of the game as I had family obligations with my fiancée. By the time we got to a television to watch the game, it was the fourth quarter and LSU was already ahead 21 to 17. However, we definitely got to see the heart-wrenching last few possessions as it looked like the Tigers were going to ice the game following a costly muffed punt by AU cornerback Keionte Scott. However, the Fighting Tigers decided to give every LSU fan a coronary when running back John Emery Jr. coughed up the ball two plays later. That other team took over on their own 32 and then promptly gained 23 yards to the LSU 45 on the first play of the drive. They continued to move the ball all the way to the LSU 36 when senior safety Greg Brooks, Jr. basically ripped the ball out of the hands of that team’s receiver (and LSU transfer) Koy Moore and ripped the heart out of the fans of that team with the game-sealing interception. Oddly enough, Moore had another costly turnover early in the fourth quarter on a second and goal from the LSU 10 when he took a handoff on a jet sweep-type motion and tried to get cute and pass the ball. Unfortunately for him, he threw it into the outstretched hands of LSU linebacker Harold Perkins, Jr., which kept the other team from scoring and preserving the slim LSU lead for the time being. The Tigers’ defense did their jobs on Saturday, with two sacks, (both from standout defensive end BJ Ojulari), five tackles for loss, two interceptions and the two lost fumbles. Those turnovers were definitely the big difference maker in a game that really could have gone either way. As always, like I said in my previous post, there’s always so much drama that surrounds this game every year. (More on the LSU game in a bit.) Up next for the Tigers, a matchup with the undefeated number 8 ranked Tennessee Volunteers under the lights… check that, under the sun at 11 a.m. Saturday morning in Death Valley.
Here are the other scores from around the conference:
Mississippi State – 42, #17 Texas A&M – 24
South Carolina – 50, South Carolina State – 10 (Thursday)
Florida – 52, East Washington – 17 (Sunday)
So, in my previous post, I asked the loyal readers to tell me which of the LSU-“That Team” rivalry games have been the most memorable for them. One of them said the famous Earthquake Game in 1988 and the other one mentioned the game in 2006 where “That Team” beat LSU, 7 to 3. So that leads me to ask, what to name this one. The Meltdown Game? The Comeback, Part II? The “What Were You Thinking?” Game? What do you the loyal readers think this game should be called? Let me know in the comments section below! As always, Geaux Tigers!