Welcome back to Take a Look Tuesday, a weekly look at the rest of the SEC. More teams played their conference openers, and all but Missouri have at least one conference game under their belts. We’ve hit the one-third mark of the 2023 regular season.
Texas A&M 27 vs Auburn 10
Auburn QBs completed 9 passes in this game and got sacked 7 times. Auburn had 56 passing yards in this game, which is equal to the number Iowa had against Penn State that night despite the Hawkeyes completing three fewer throws. Auburn had more plays than passing yards. Auburn had 200 total yards of offense to A&M’s 402. Aggie QB Conner Weigman left the game early with an injury, but Max Johnson did a good job in his place going 7/11 for 123 yards and 2 TDs. This game was a putrid mess offensively, but Texas A&M’s defense did a brilliant job stepping up when they needed to. Auburn’s only TD came on a 67-yard Eugene Asante scoop-and-score early in the 4th quarter. The Aggies travel to AT&T Stadium to face Arkansas in the Southwest Classic Saturday at 11:00 a.m. on SEC Network while Auburn hosts #1 Georgia at 2:30 p.m. on CBS.
Kentucky 45 at Vanderbilt 28
Kentucky avenged their upset loss from last year in a big win to open both teams’ SEC schedules. The Wildcats jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the 1st quarter and never really looked back. The two teams had nearly identical passing and overall offensive totals, but Maxwell Hairston’s two pick-sixes kept the game far out of reach. Vanderbilt gained a combined 34 yards on their first six drives. This is not a winning formula. By the time the Commodores got anything going, it was too late to overcome the deficit. Vandy has a very weak run game, and they cannot afford to have that with the talent disparity that exists between them and the rest of the SEC. As for Kentucky, this was a great win to show that they are a decent team, but they’ll have to keep it up against better competition. Kentucky hosts #22 Florida Saturday at 11:00 a.m. on ESPN, then Vanderbilt hosts #23 Missouri at 2:30 p.m. on SEC Network.
#13 Alabama 24 vs #15 Ole Miss 10
Ole Miss has won 10 games in this series on the field, so the final result is anything but surprising. However, Ole Miss lost this game by playing very bad football. 3/14 on third downs was the killer. They were an average third down offense coming in, but this dropped them to the bottom third of FBS teams. They converted 3/4 fourth downs, but that didn’t matter. Alabama looked like a mid-2010s LSU team. They couldn’t do much with the ball on offense, but they made sure their opponent was in hell with them. The Tide outscored the Rebels 18-3 in the second half. Ole Miss had four second half drives. This is not how to beat this Alabama team. Alabama travels to Mississippi State Saturday for a series more lopsided than Bedlam at 8:00 p.m. on ESPN while Ole Miss hosts #13 LSU at 5:00 on ESPN.
#23 Tennessee 45 vs UTSA 14
Tennessee managed to lower their average time of possession in this win. Tennessee averaged 23:27 per game, but they held the ball a mere 22:48 in this drubbing of a directionless UTSA squad. The Roadrunners haven’t had star seventh-year senior QB Frank Harris the past couple weeks and have looked like a team out of their element. A team many expected to contend for the AAC title and the G5’s final automatic New Year’s Six bowl berth might have to claw their way to 7 or 8 wins. As for the Volunteers, they put up 512 yards of offense and ran for over 300 yards. This was a good bounce-back win for Tennessee, but it doesn’t mean too much yet. They still need to show that their Week 1 performance was a better presentation of their team than the ones from weeks 2 and 3. They’ll get another chance to show that Saturday when they host South Carolina at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network.
#25 Florida 22 vs Charlotte 7
This was a football game, but it wasn’t the kind Florida was hoping to have. Florida went on a 95-yard TD drive on their first possession of the game and never got back in the end zone. They kicked 5 field goals, three of which were inside of 30 yards. Two of those field goals came after the Gators failed to convert a 3rd and 1. Luckily, the defense played well and held the 49ers to 211 yards. Drives that get inside the 10 can’t stall like they did against Charlotte when the competition gets tougher. They’ll have to improve when they travel to face Kentucky Saturday at 11:00 a.m. on ESPN.
#1 Georgia 49 vs UAB 21
Georgia got off to a slow start in the 1st quarter before pouring it on later in the game. It’s the same script again. The Bulldogs lost the turnover battle 3-1 thanks to two fumbles in the first half and a late pick, but it never mattered. Georgia managed to get everyone involved on offense. A combined three QBs completed passes to a combined 12 receivers and a combined eight players ran the ball. The Blazers are going through the growing pains many believed Colorado would face. Georgia travels to Auburn Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on CBS.
Missouri 34 vs* Memphis 27 (St. Louis)
The first game in the Mizzou to the Lou series, the real name for these games in the Dome at America’s Center, ended in a Missouri victory. Missouri closed out their non-conference slate undefeated for the first time since 2018 with a win that wasn’t as close as the final score indicates. Memphis scored a TD with 1:21 to go and failed to recover the onside kick. Mizzou took a 24-10 lead with 9:19 to go in the 3rd quarter and kept the game out of reach each time Memphis put up a score. Brady Cook had another phenomenal day going 18/25 for 341 yards and 2 TDs. Luther Burden didn’t score either one, but he had 10 catches for 177 yards to show why he’s one of the best receivers in the SEC. Missouri is 4-0 for the first time since 2013 and are ranked #23 in the AP Poll, the earliest Missouri’s been ranked in a season since they were #25 in Week 4 of 2015. The Tigers open their conference slate Saturday at Vanderbilt at 3:00 p.m. on SEC Network.
South Carolina 37 vs Mississippi State 30
Mississippi State abandoned their run-first mentality in this game and it didn’t work. The Bulldogs had a Leach-esque performance with 487 passing yards and 48 sack-adjusted rushing yards. They had several opportunities to take the lead and they tended to kick field goals on those drives. The Gamecocks’ defense played bend-but-don’t-break football and it got them the win. Spencer Rattler and an unbelievably efficient performance. He was 18/20 for 288 yards and 3 TDs for an NFL passer rating of 158.3. That’s perfect. Mario Anderson led the way on the ground with 88 yards on 26 carries and 1 TD. Xavier Legette torched the MSU secondary with 5 receptions for 189 yards and 2 TDs. The Bulldogs got out of their offensive funk from the LSU game, but they still lost. South Carolina travels to #21 Tennessee Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network while Mississippi State hosts #12 Alabama at 8:00 p.m. on ESPN.