Welcome back to Take a Look Tuesday, a weekly look at what happened in the other games involving SEC teams. This was it for the regular season, and boy, what a way to go out. (Note: I remove sacks and sack yardage from rushes and rushing yardage when necessary to put stats in appropriate context.)
Mississippi State 24 at #20 Ole Miss 22 (Thursday)
This game definitely lived up to the legacy of the Egg Bowl. First off, Mississippi State managed to outrush Ole Miss in this game by 52 yards (that includes the three knees that lost a combined 15 yards, but not sacks) and held the Rebels to 99 rushing yards. Quinshon Judkins had been a force this season, but the Bulldogs held him to just 91 yards on 22 carries. This game had one of the weirdest endings of the year. Mississippi State scored a TD and took a 24-16 lead with under 8 minutes to go. On the third play following, Ole Miss tried a screen pass in the back field that fell to the ground. This was initially ruled an incomplete pass, but it was overturned and ruled a backward pass recovered by Jett Johnson. Mississippi State drove down to the 1 with a chance to put the game away, but Will Rogers fumbled while trying to stretch for the goal line. Ole Miss recovered, went down the field, scored a TD, missed the 2, failed the onside kick and finished the season watching Mississippi State take three knees from shotgun. Ole Miss finishes the regular season on a three-game skid, and it’s still difficult to tell if they were a good team or not. Their best win is either Kentucky or Troy, but they also looked like a good team at points maybe. It’s so weird. As for Mississippi State, this was a very good season, especially by their standards. They lived up to the expectations of being a pretty good team, they ran the ball more and it worked, and the defense played well.
Missouri 29 vs Arkansas 27 (Friday)
This was a close game between two equally matched teams. It was also a tale of two very different halves. The first half was packed with action and back and forth. The teams traded scores for most of it and the Hogs took a 21-20 lead into the half. The second half was a very different story. Scoring dried up as it became a battle of who could put the game away. In the end, it was the Tigers that earned their sixth win and a bowl spot. Brady Cook went off in this game and carried Mizzou to a win. He went 16/26 for 242 yards and 1 TD through the air and had 18 rushes (including sacks) for 138 yards and another TD. Arkansas looked to be a hot team at the start of the season, but they ended up roasted. Injuries certainly hurt their cause, especially in the Mississippi State loss, but this was still bad for Sam Pittman. As for Missouri, this feels like a weird season to try and evaluate. They never beat a great team, their most impressive win was at then-25th ranked South Carolina, but their losses weren’t the worst save for the Auburn game. At least it ended on a better not than Arkansas’.
#16 Florida State 45 vs Florida 38 (Friday)
The Gators and Seminoles set a series record for highest scoring game in a fantastic showdown. Both teams unleashed their best playmakers in this one. Florida’s best playmakers were RB Trevor Etienne, who gained 129 yards on 17 carries and scored 1 TD, and WR Ricky Pearsall, who had 5 receptions for 148 yards and 2 TDs (Florida had 198 passing yards on the night). They helped keep the Gators in the game while their defense had to deal with Jordan Travis and his incredible scrambling ability. Florida had the ball late with a chance to tie it, but Anthony Richardson’s 4th down pass fell incomplete. First off, big props to Florida State on an incredible season. Mike Norvell’s found something. As for Florida, Billy Napier’s first year could’ve gone a lot better, and the losses to Kentucky and Vanderbilt were bad. However, this is the first year of a rebuild, what will matter more is how the recruiting for next season pans out.
#1 Georgia 37 vs Georgia Tech 14
Georgia came in as 36.5-point favorites and barely managed 37 points. This clearly means they are a garbage team that are a total sham. This is further proven with their slow start and early 7-0 and 7-3 deficits. Seriously, why do people get so hyped when Georgia goes down in the 1st quarter when they have players like Kenny McIntosh to do everything and be awesome? Georgia dominated this game and squashed the Yellow Jackets by deleting their run game. GT’s leading rusher had 34 yards on 10 carries and their longest run was a 13-yard QB scamper. I’d do some sort of summary of Georgia’s season, but we all know they’re not done yet. They face LSU in Atlanta in the SEC Championship Game Saturday at 3:00 p.m.
South Carolina 31 at #8 Clemson 30
South Carolina beat an AP top-10 team in back-to-back weeks for the first time in school history. Just as we all expected. Clemson had control of this game at the half, or at least they should have. They dominated the run game throughout, outgaining the Gamecocks 243-67 on true runs. This didn’t save them from themselves. First, they decided to get cute on a kickoff following a safety and ended up fumbling the ball deep in their own territory, giving South Carolina a chance to respond and make the game 16-14. Second, they threw a deep pick midway through the 4th quarter (play was at the Clemson 24 and the pick was at the SC 35). Third, they fumbled the ball on a punt return with just over 2 minutes to go in the game. Finally, they had no pass game. D.J. Uiagalelei finished 8/29 for 99 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. South Carolina went 3/13 on 3rd down and won, wow. They can hang their hats high on an 8-4 season that could see them finish with a number next to their name. Shane Beamer may not have had a great team this year, but he had a winner that outperformed any and all expectations.
Kentucky 26 vs #25 Louisville 13
Everyone wants to talk Will Levis this and Will Levis that, but the hero of this game was Matt Ruffolo. Kentucky’s kicker outscored the Cardinals on his own 14-13, making all four of his field goals and adding two extra points. He’s had a pretty rough season, but the senior found the perfect time to turn in the best game of his career. This game was rough otherwise. Louisville turned the ball over three times, two of which set up Kentucky scores and the third of which ended the game. The teams were a combined 7/23 on 3rd down. This was a letdown of a season for the Wildcats. They came in predicted to finish second in the SEC East and finished 4th. Will Levis didn’t play up to the hype when he needed to, and they lost to Vanderbilt. Mark Stoops still got himself an extension (a new one that replaces the one that gave him an extra year each time his team won seven games).
#7 Alabama 49 vs Auburn 27
Auburn scored some points in this game. They also got beat badly. Cadillac Williams became the first Black head coach in the history of the Iron Bowl, and the fact that the team he had got there in the shape they did is a testament to his coaching ability. It’s great to see he’s being promoted to Associate Head Coach in the new regime, he’s earned it. Anyway, Alabama was not here for any sappy stories, they came to win big. The Tide made sure the game was out of reach by halftime when they went in 35-14. Bryce Young had yet another big game, going 20/30 for 343 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT in what could be his final college game (if Bama doesn’t somehow back into the Playoff). Auburn’s season was one that had Brian Harsin’s firing hanging over it until it happened. This was never a year for building things or for moving forward, it was for axing the wrong guy for the job to get a new one. For some reason, they decided to hire Hugh Freeze. As for Alabama, this season showed that the height of the dynasty is close to falling away as Alabama becomes another really good program like Ohio State, Georgia, USC and whoever else in the new age of college football. They are no longer the lone juggernaut. Also, their Playoff hopes got rejuvenated thanks to the stupid game in College Station, great.
#10 Tennessee 56 at Vanderbilt 0
It seems Tennessee was angered by their loss to South Carolina or something and took it out on Vanderbilt. The Commodores needed to win this game to get bowl eligible. They did not. This is one of the most baffling box scores I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing this season. Vanderbilt had the ball for 43:45 and put up 254 offensive yards. Tennessee held the ball for 16:15, went 0/7 on 3rd down and put up 513. Joseph Bulovas had a chance to avoid the shut out early in the 2nd quarter, but he missed a 39-yard field goal. Tennessee went out and ended a great regular season strong. As for Vanderbilt, they had a better season than anybody expected, won two SEC games (in a row including one over a ranked team on the road) and showed a lot of growth compared to last year.