Saturday, November 28, 2020

Another Exciting Weekend in the SEC

Georgia victorious over Gamecocks 41-30 / Photo Courtesy of University of Georgia Athletic Department
Georgia victorious over Gamecocks 41-30 / Photo Courtesy of University of Georgia Athletic Department

Just like that, week two of the College Football season is behind us. Let’s hope it slows down before we actually can enjoy the great football that’s being played. Particularly from the SEC East, minus Florida.

Across the region this Saturday, it was hot and humid on all campuses. But that didn’t stop the SEC from putting up some exciting football. The SEC game of the week was between the Georgia Bulldogs and South Carolina Gamecocks from the SEC East.

Georgia lost a heartbreaking season opener to Clemson last Saturday night and they looked to get that bad taste out of their mouth earlier this afternoon. In a game that showcased the offensive firepower instead of two great SEC defenses, the Bulldogs clipped the Gamecocks 41-30.

The Georgia Pain Train, also known as Todd Gurley, ran the ball 30 times for 134 yards and one touchdown. Gurley also had his first receiving touchdown of his college career. But the player of the game honor goes to Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who was 17/23 in the air with 309 passing yards and four touchdown tosses.

South Carolina’s offense had firepower on their side. Senior Connor Shaw and sophomore Mike Davis led the Gamecocks on offense. Shaw was 16/28 with 228 yards passing and 2 touchdowns while Davis had an incredible night running the ball 16 times for 149 yards and a touchdown.

SouthCarolina_Logo-1There just wasn’t enough defense to slow Murray down in the fourth quarter when he connected with sophomore Justin Scott-Wesley for an 85-yard touchdown pass in the beginning of the fourth quarter. When all was said and done, the number 11 Bulldogs had taken down the number 6 Gamecocks in a Saturday thriller.

Elsewhere in the East, Vanderbilt bounced back from an emotional loss to Ole Miss on opening night last Thursday by defeating Austin Peay 38-3. Missouri improved their record to 2-0 with a 38-23 victory over Toledo. Tennessee defeated Bobby Petrino and his Western Kentucky team 52-20 a week after the Hilltoppers had taken down the Kentucky Wildcats, and many suspected that the Volunteers would be their next SEC victim. Kentucky bounced back after a week one loss to Western Kentucky by throttling Miami (OH) 41-7 and showing great improvement in doing it.

Everyone from the East put up great performances. Except one., that is. The Florida Gators traveled to Miami to take on their in-state rival the Miami (FL) Hurricanes. The Gators were defeated by Miami 21-16. If you look at the stats, the one number that sticks out and tells the tale of why the Gators lost this game is the number five. Florida had five turnovers to Miami’s one.

In every possible category, outside of turnovers, the Gators dominated the game. Florida had 22 first downs to Miami’s 10. They had 413 total yards of offense to Miami’s 212. The Gators also had 291 yards passing, 122 yards rushing, converted on 6-15 third downs and held on to the ball for almost 40 minutes.

Miami had 162 yards passing, 50 yards rushing, were 1-11 on third down conversions and only held on to the ball for 21 minutes and 40 seconds. But when you force five turnovers, the entire dynamic of a game can change.

Florida has six days to get ready for a Tennessee team that has been playing very well the last two weeks under new head coach Butch Jones. If the Gators are going to bounce back and compete for the SEC East this year, then bouncing back in a big way next week against rival Tennessee is essential.

On the other side of the league, the SEC West was relatively quiet this Saturday. The West went undefeated against their opponents and six of the seven Western Division teams are still undefeated on the year.

Mississippi_State_Bulldogs2-1It is said every year that teams improve the most between game one and game two. The Mississippi State Bulldogs showed the most improvement of all SEC West teams that played on Saturday by running over the Alcorn State Braves 51-7. With senior quarterback Tyler Russell out of the game, sophomore Dak Prescott got the nod to start at quarterback this week. Prescott had a solid outing, completing 12 of 19 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns. The road doesn’t get any easier for the Bulldogs as they travel to The Plains to face Auburn next Saturday.

Auburn had a successful outing on Saturday as they defeated their head coach Gus Malzahn’s former team, the Arkansas State Red Wolves, 38-9. The Auburn-Mississippi State game is scheduled to play on ESPN or ESPN 2 at 7 PM Eastern Standard Time next Saturday.

The close call of the day came in Fayetteville as the Arkansas Razorbacks and new head coach Bret Bielema had to rally in the fourth quarter to pull away a victory from their game against FCS foe Samford. The Razorbacks were down 21-17 going into the fourth quarter but scored 14 unanswered points to pull out a 31-21 victory over the Bulldogs.

The seventh ranked Texas A&M Aggies offense returned to normal on Saturday as they scored 35 third-quarter points and had 714 yards of total offense en route to a 65-28 victory over FCS opponent Sam Houston State.

Johnny Manziel had a great game passing and running, completing 28/41 passes with 403 yards through the air and 3 touchdowns. Manziel also ran the ball seven times for 36 yards and a touchdown. But next week, Alabama comes to town and having that type of game is going to be a tall task.

Speaking of the Fighting Nick Sabans, they had an “off” week, but we all know that it was anything but that. With so many problems on the offensive side of the ball, particularly the offensive line, Saban and his coaches likely drilled out any weakness that the number one Alabama Crimson Tide might have had in week one. One thing is for sure though, if there is one person in the SEC that can expose ANY weaknesses in a team, it’s Johnny Manziel.

Photo by Seph Anderson/hottytoddyarchive.com
Photo by Seph Anderson/hottytoddyarchive.com

The Ole Miss Rebels took the field for the first time since their thrilling Thursday night victory in Nashville to start the season. The first half was very impressive for the Rebels as they went into the half up 31-0. The second half was a different story as the Rebels didn’t score any points but the Southeast Missouri State Red Hawks put two touchdowns and one extra point on the scoreboard. That was all though, and the Rebels pulled out a 31-13 victory to improve to 2-0 on the season.

Bo Wallace, senior quarterback for the Rebels, only played in the first half of the game but was 8 of 15 passing the ball with 188 yards through the air and 2 touchdowns. Donte Moncrief led the team in receiving with 2 catches and 74 yards receiving and one touchdown. But true freshman Evan Engram was right behind him, catching a 64-yard touchdown pass and ending the night with 2 catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.

That is the last easy victory for the Rebels for a while because for the next five weeks they will face four nationally ranked opponents, three of which are in the top 10. Next weekend, they travel to Texas to try and avenge the throttling they received last year at the hands of the Longhorns in Oxford.

And quietly down in Baton Rouge, the LSU Tigers have once again put together a team that appears to be a contender for the Western Division crown. On Saturday, the Tigers hosted the UAB Blazers in what turned out to be a great game for Zach Mettenberger as he threw five touchdowns on the way to a 56-17 victory for the Tigers.

And there we have it. Week 2 is in the books and now we look on to Week 3 in the SEC. Here are the current SEC East/West division power rankings by the HottyToddy.com sports crew.

SEC East:
1) Georgia
2) South Carolina
3) Tennessee
4) Vanderbilt
5) Florida
6) Missouri
7) Kentucky

SEC West:
1) Alabama
2) LSU
3) Texas A&M
4) Ole Miss
5) Auburn
6) Arkansas
7) Mississippi State

HottyToddy.com SEC Player of the Week:
Georgia Quarterback Aaron Murray: 17/23 309 yards 4 TD

––Justin Taylor, Associate Editor, HottyToddy.com

Email Justin Taylor at jdtaylo2@go.olemiss.edu