Welcome back to Take a Look Tuesday, a weekly look at what happened in the other games involving SEC teams. This was a week with some important games that impacted the postseason in different ways. (Note: I remove sacks and sack yardage from rushes and rushing yardage when necessary to put stats in appropriate context.)
Vanderbilt 24 at #24 Kentucky 21
Vanderbilt did it! They won their first SEC game since 2019, snapping a 26-game losing streak that began after a win over #22 Missouri at home (also their last win over a ranked opponent before this one). To make things even crazier, this was Vanderbilt’s first ranked win on the road since 2007 at #6 South Carolina, snapping a 28-game streak. Kentucky had early chances to take control of this game and squandered them. Vanderbilt fumbled on the second play of the game, but the Wildcats went 3 and out and had to settle for a field goal. Vanderbilt responded when Mike Wright scooted for a 59-yard TD run to make it 7-3. After another Kentucky field goal, Vandy began to drive. However, Mike Wright threw a pick in the end zone. Kentucky drove into field goal range and lined up to retake the lead. That’s when the accursed Kentucky field goal unit reared its ugly head and allowed a Commodore block. Kentucky kicked another field goal in the second half and scored two TDs, but failed to hit either two-point conversion following the scores. Late in the game, Vanderbilt trailed by 4 and had 4th and 11 from the Kentucky 49. Mike Wright hit the pass of his life to get the ball to 1st and goal. With 32 seconds left, he hit Will Sheppard for an 8-yard touchdown to slay the beast. Kentucky hosts Georgia Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Vanderbilt hosts Florida Saturday at 11:00 a.m.
#5 Tennessee 66 vs Missouri 24
The final score masks the fact that this was a pretty close game until about 4:30 to go in the 3rd quarter. Missouri hung around with Georgia a few weeks back and it looked like that was going to be the case in this game. Then Tennessee kicked the scoring into overdrive and left the Tigers in the dust. Two Tennessee turnovers on downs in the first half helped keep the game close, especially because both followed Mizzou punts and both turned into Mizzou points (a TD and a FG to end the half, respectively). Once the Vols kicked into their usual gear after the Tigers brought it to within 4, it was over. Three quick TD drives brought the score to 49-24, and it was over from there. Hendon Hooker had a phenomenal performance, going 25/35 for 355 yards and 3 TDs, while Tennessee finished with an unbelievable 724 total yards. Talk about a bounce-back performance. Missouri hosts New Mexico State Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Tennessee travels to face South Carolina Saturday at 6:00 p.m.
#9 Alabama 30 at #11 Ole Miss 24
It actually happened. Alabama knocked off Ole Miss to put LSU in the SEC Championship Game in the first game where LSU fans found themselves rooting for the Tide in potentially ever. Ole Miss controlled much of this game, they struck first with a 1-yard Quinshon Judkins TD run and forced Alabama to play catch up. The Rebels forced a turnover on downs the next drive and forced a fumble midway through the 2nd quarter. The Rebels scored a TD following that fumble to take a 17-7 lead, and then they forced a 3 and out. This could’ve been the opportunity to take a three-score lead, but the first play ended with a Zach Evans fumble at the Ole Miss 23. Bama scored a TD and went into the half down 3. The Tide managed to tie the game out of the half, but they never took the lead until 11:19 to go in the game. I’ve highlighted Ole Miss’ struggles with second half offense many times this year. Once again, it killed them. The Rebels scored their final points with 7:28 to go in the 3rd quarter. In the four games Ole Miss has played against teams that currently have winning records, they’ve scored 0 4th quarter points. There’s the dagger. Ole Miss travels to Arkansas Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Alabama hosts FCS Austin Peay Saturday at 11:00 a.m.
Florida 38 vs South Carolina 6
South Carolina was a ranked team at one point this season. They looked anything but in this game. The Gamecocks were without star running back MarShawn Lloyd and brought a run game that barely did anything. They finished with just 68 yards on 20 carries led by Jaheim Bell’s 30 yards on 12 carries. Florida jumped out to a 24-0 lead by scoring on their first four drives. South Carolina’s only points of the game came on a fake punt pass TD (followed by a missed two-point pass) following Florida’s field goal drive in the 2nd quarter. Things only got worse when South Carolina fumbled on three of their first four snaps in the second half (Florida scored 7 total points off those turnovers, though). The Gators ran all over the Gamecocks for 389 yards on 51 carries. Montrell Johnson Jr. had a career day with 161 yards on 24 carries and 1 TD in this blowout victory. Considering their remaining schedule, it’s probably a good thing they locked up their 6th win against Vanderbilt. South Carolina hosts Tennessee Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Florida travels to Vanderbilt Saturday at 11:00 a.m.
#1 Georgia 45 at Mississippi State 19
Georgia cruised their way to the SEC East crown with this win. Things weren’t looking that way early, Georgia built up a 17-3 lead just before the half, but Mississippi State kicked a field goal and returned a punt for a touchdown to make it 17-12 at the half (Mississippi State failed a two-point conversion after the TD). Georgia averted any potential crisis on the second play of the 3rd quarter with a 70-yard TD run by Ladd McConkey (yes, the tight end). Stetson Bennett had a good game, though he did throw two picks, and the defense did a great job. Mississippi State went 3/14 on 3rd down and 0/3 on 4th down, yet they never turned the ball over. This was a pretty standard domination by Georgia to clinch the SEC East. Mississippi State hosts FCS East Tennessee State Saturday at 11:00 a.m. Georgia travels to Kentucky Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Auburn 13 vs Texas A&M 10
This battle for the bottom of the SEC West played out like, well, a game between the two worst teams in the division. This game had more punting yards (562) than offensive yards (545), a statement rarely true of good games. Robby Ashford went 6/13 for 60 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs in a winning effort somehow. Auburn’s defense smothered the Aggies, holding them to 215 yards, the fewest in an SEC win for Auburn since the 2011 Florida game. Even the offense did their fair share of smothering, holding onto the ball for 36:26 and running the ball 53 times. Jarquez Hunter and Tank Bigsby led the team in rushing with 121 yards on 13 and 23 carries, respectively. It didn’t help that Texas A&M was without star running back Devon Achane, which probably would’ve given them a chance to up their time of possession. This was Cadillac Williams’ first win as interim head coach, and I urge to watch his post-game press conference if you haven’t already because he’s hard not to love. With this result, Texas A&M has become the first SEC team to clinch a losing record. The Aggies host UMass Saturday at 11:00 a.m. Auburn hosts Western Kentucky Saturday at 3:00 p.m.