Welcome back to Take a Look Tuesday, a weekly look at the rest of the teams in the SEC. This week included a couple teams on bye and a potential look at the pecking order at the halfway mark of the 2023 season.
Mississippi State 41 vs Western Michigan 28
It’s odd to see a non-conference game at this stage of the season, but Mississippi State needed it. The Bulldogs bounced back from three straight losses with a win over Western Michigan, but it was decently close. The Broncos put up 413 yards to MSU’s 440 and kept the turnover margin equal, but they couldn’t do enough with the ball to win. It’s tough to win going 5/17 on 3rd down and 3/6 on 4th down when the opponent goes 6/13 on 3rd down. The Bulldogs didn’t come out of this game unscathed. QB Will Rogers suffered an apparent shoulder injury in the 4th quarter and RB Jo’Quavious Marks twisted his knee in the 2nd quarter. Neither returned to the game. Losing either one would be a significant blow for a team with a rough road to a bowl game. Luckily, they are on bye this weekend.
#11 Alabama 26 at Texas A&M 20
Texas A&M had a great chance to keep some momentum late in the 3rd quarter in a 17-17 game when they had a 4th and 1 at the Alabama 45. They punted. The football gods were not okay with that and sought to punish the Aggies for their cowardice the displayed on their home field. A later blocked field goal and intentional grounding in the end zone killed any hopes of an Aggie victory. Alabama decided to avoid Texas A&M’s pesky run defense and attacked using Jalen Milroe’s arm. He went 21/33 for 321 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT despite getting sacked 6 times. Jermaine Burton feasted with 9 catches for 197 yards and 2 TDs. Alabama’s played these kinds of games all year and it’s bound to get them burned again. They were lucky to play a team coached by a man allergic to good 4th down decisions. Alabama hosts Arkansas Saturday at 11:00 a.m. on ESPN while Texas A&M travels to #19 Tennessee at 2:30 p.m. on CBS.
Florida 38 vs Vanderbilt 14
Vanderbilt is a very bad football team. Florida was a much better team looking for revenge after last year, but they let Vanderbilt hand around and not die for far too long. One of Vandy’s TDs came thanks to lazy play by the defensive secondary, too, an 85-yard TD from Ken Seals to Will Sheppard that marked the fourth-longest in program history. The Gators controlled the ball for 36:58 thanks to the Commodores’ horrendous late-down offense. They were 1/10 on 3rd down and 0/3 on 4th down. Each team had one turnover, too. Graham Mertz was 30/36 for 254 yards and 3 TDs while RB Montrell Johnson Jr. led all sides with 135 yards and 1 TD. The Gators travel to South Carolina Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on SEC Network while Vanderbilt hosts #1 Georgia at 11:00 a.m. on CBS.
#1 Georgia 51 vs Kentucky 13
Georgia decided that enough was enough and made mincemeat of Kentucky from the start. It was 14-0 at the end of the 1st quarter and 31-7 by halftime. The Bulldogs outgained the Wildcats 608-183. The Bulldogs had more players catch a pass than the Wildcats had completed passes (12-10). This was a statement win to show that the Dawgs are for real. Carson Beck was 28/35 for 389 yards, 4 TDs and a pick for a 139.2 NFL passer rating. Despite everything, Kentucky’s Ray Davis led all rushers with 59 yards, though it helped that Georgia let 10 guys carry the ball. It’s hard to say much more than this was a show of force by the Georgia offense, one that looked like it was tired of being looked at as inferior. They have loftier goals, but Georgia is the first bowl-eligible team in the SEC. They roll into Nashville Saturday to face Vanderbilt at 11:00 a.m. on CBS. Kentucky hosts Missouri Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network with the winner earning bowl eligibility.
#16 Ole Miss 27 vs Arkansas 20
This game was closer than expected, but it showed another failure of the Arkansas offensive line. Ole Miss was a mere 4/14 on 3rd down to Arkansas’ 7/16, but they couldn’t do much with the ball besides throw it. The Hogs ran for 69 sack-adjusted yards, but that excludes the 33 yards lost on 5 sacks. Even then, an average of 2.9 yards per carry isn’t going to work against an Ole Miss team built on gashing opponents in the trenches. It also didn’t help that KJ Jefferson threw a couple picks, one on the second drive of the game and the other on the final drive of the game. Jaxson Dart went 16/25 for 153 yards and 1 TD while Ulysses Bently IV outgained Arkansas on the ground with 94 yards and a TD. Dan Enos’ inbox isn’t going to be empty of fan emails any time soon. Ole Miss has a bye this week while Arkansas travels to face #11 Alabama Saturday at 11:00 a.m. on ESPN.