Friday, December 2, 2022

SEC Weekend Recap: Auburn Defeats Georgia in Game of the Year

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What a wild and wacky weekend it was in the SEC. There were no upsets as the teams everyone expected to win did just that. But the way that those games were won made for one of the most exciting weekends this season in the SEC.

Lets start our recap of the weekend on The Plains of Auburn, Alabama where the game of the year was played last Saturday.

No. 7 Auburn-43 No. 25 Georgia-38

We’ll just leave out the first three quarters of the game and skip right to the fourth quarter. Going into the fourth quarter of The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry game, Auburn was in control with a 37-17 lead with just over 12 minutes to go in the game. It seemed that the game was all but decided at that point.

But Mark Richt’s Bulldogs refused to give up as they chopped and chopped away at the 20 point deficit. In the last 9:35 of the game, the Georgia offense led by quarterback Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley went on a rampage and scored 21 unanswered points to put the Bulldogs on top of the Tigers 38-37 with less than two minutes to go. The go ahead touchdown was scored by Murray on a fourth down run play from the five yard line. It appeared that Murray had fallen short of the endzone but the touchdown call stood after further review.

The game once again appeared to have been won. Georgia’s defense had picked up steam and had all of the momentum. After knocking Auburn back to fourth and 18, all Georgia had to do was cover the pass and get pressure to ensure victory once and for all.

Fans in the background signal touchdown Auburn and Ricardo Louis (Anthony Hall photo) / Photo from auburntigers.com
Fans in the background signal touchdown Auburn and Ricardo Louis (Anthony Hall photo) / Photo from auburntigers.com

Enter Nick Marshall, who had an amazing game all night passing and throwing the ball. The fourth quarter had not been kind to him though being sacked a few times. Marshall got the ball, stepped back in the pocket, observed the field and when pressure was right on top of him he stepped up in the pocket and heaved a long ball down the middle of the field. The ball was a prayer. A prayer that was thrown into double coverage. A prayer that hit one Georgia defender in the hand. A prayer that bounced off a second defenders hand and into the air. A prayer that fell into Auburn wide receiver Ricardo Louis’ left hand after he had given up on the play. A prayer that crossed the goal line to put Auburn back on top 43-38 with 25 seconds left in the game.

Jordan-Hare Stadium erupted into a roar that is likely the loudest the stadium has ever had since it was constructed. The game was seemingly won at the time but Georgia had one last gasp of air. The Bulldogs managed to get down the field to Auburn’s 20 yard line and was getting ready to throw a ball to a wide open target in the endzone until he was hit by Auburn defensive lineman Dee Ford. The hit caused Murray’s pass to fall well short of it’s target and the game was finally over. Auburn wins 43-38.

Auburn finished the night with 323 rushing yards on the Georgia defense, which had only been allowing less than 130 yards a game and were ranked 20th in the nation.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said in the post game interview that his team has the “it” factor and is willing to do whatever it takes to win.

The Tigers have this week off to prepare for their regular season finale against hated rival and number one ranked Alabama in the Iron Bowl. The Tigers have had a special season and would love nothing more than to knock off Alabama keeping them from a third straight BCS National Championship. A win against the Crimson Tide would also put Auburn in the SEC championship game.

No. 10 South Carolina-19 Florida-14

The Gators came into this game desperately needing a victory in order to keep their 22 year bowl appearance streak alive. The Gamecocks also needed a win to finish out SEC play in order to keep their hopes of an SEC championship appearance alive.

Photo from gamecocksonline.com
Photo from gamecocksonline.com

When push came to shove, it was the Gamecocks who came out on top. But it wasn’t nearly as easy as some predicted it would be (including myself). Florida came out like a fire was lit up under them and hit South Carolina in the mouth. It took the Gamecocks by surprise because at halftime the Gators were surprisingly in the lead 14-6.

But the South Carolina defense wouldn’t allow the Gators to score anymore points and the offense was able to squeak out 13 more points in order to get the victory for the Gamecocks. Connor Shaw was 14 of 28 passing the ball with 213 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore Shon Carson also led the rushing attack for the Gamecocks with 13 carries for 102 yards.

The game ball obviously goes to South Carolina kicker Elliot Fry who made four of his five kicks on the night to lift his team to a win. With the victory and the Georgia loss to Auburn, the only thing that South Carolina needs to happen in order to return to Atlanta for the second time in school history is for Missouri lose one of their final two SEC games. Missouri travels to Oxford this weekend to take on number 24 Ole Miss and then they host Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M the following week in Columbia, MO.

South Carolina plays FCS foe Coastal Carolina this weekend. Next weekend they will face bitter rival Clemson to finish out the season.

Florida must win it’s final two games on their schedule in order to become bowl eligible. They should handle Georgia Southern pretty easily but then they host number 2 Florida State in The Swamp to conclude their regular season. In other words, Florida is going to be home for the holidays this year.

No. 1 Alabama-20 Mississippi State-7

And the game ball for weekends sloppiest game goes to–you guessed it. Alabama. It really says a lot about a program and team though that they can still win an SEC game on the road after playing their sloppiest game of the last 4 years. Not to take anything away from the Mississippi State defense. They played tremendously and will give Arkansas and Ole Miss fits. But Alabama played far FAR from their best football.

Mississippi State was missing starting quarterback Dak Prescott this week and the Bulldog’s offense suffered because of it. Senior and former starter Tyler Russell played instead of Prescott and just didn’t perform well enough to get his team a win. Russell was 15 of 24 for 144 yards and one interception.

The Alabama defense played about as well as you could have expected them to. They kept Mississippi State under 200 yards of total offense. The sloppiness from Alabama came from the offensive side of the ball.

AJ McCarron had possibly the worst game of his college career completing 18 of 32 passes for 187 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. McCarron just seemed to be off the entire night. TJ Yeldon had a solid game carrying the ball 24 times for 160 yards but he also had a fumble that led to Mississippi State’s lone touchdown of the night.

The Tide did end up winning the game but it’s not an ugly win that’s going to sit well with Nick Saban when he has a 10-1 Auburn team to worry about in two weeks.

Mississippi State is now 4-6 on the year with only one SEC win. They are in a must win situation the rest of the season if they want to go to their fourth straight bowl game under Dan Mullen. This weekend they travel to face a struggling Arkansas team in Little Rock. It should be an easy win for the Bulldogs but the thing to remember is that Mississippi State has never won a football game in the state of Arkansas. Then the following week, State will play host to an Ole Miss team riding high on momentum in the Egg bowl.

Vanderbilt-22 Kentucky-6

In actuality, Alabama didn’t play the sloppiest game on Saturday. It was just the most publicized. Kentucky was the team that actually played the sloppiest only picking up 262 yards of total offense and turned the ball over four times.

On Saturday Vanderbilt became bowl eligible for the third straight year under Head Coach James Franklin with a 22-6 victory over the struggling Wildcats. Kentucky played lights out on defense the entire game holding Vanderbilt to only 15 points until the last 44 seconds when James Franklin decided to run the score up. Quarterback play continues to be the downfall of Kentucky. The Wildcats got into the redzone but Jalen Whitlow threw one of his four interceptions in the endzone. Whitlow finished the game with 120 yards passing, no touchdowns and four interceptions.

On the other side Vanderbilt was led by All-SEC receiver Jordan Matthews once again. Matthews had 12 catches for 141 yards on the day. Kentucky finishes their season on the road at Georgia next week and the following week they will host Tennessee. With a two win season and another winless season in the SEC staring them in the face, Kentucky would love nothing more than to knock off just one of those teams.

Vanderbilt closes out their SEC season this weekend when they travel to Knoxville to take on Tennessee. Then they finish the season at home against ACC foe Wake Forrest.

Ole Miss-51 Troy-21

The score really isn’t indicative of just how dominating the Rebels were in this game, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Rebels broke the school record for total offensive yards in a game with 751 yards. The previous record was set in 1951 against Auburn.

Troy came into the game with an electrifying passing attack and they were able to move the ball decent at times. Their senior quarterback Corey Robinson passed for 258 yards, completed 24 of his 36 passes and threw one interception. Wide receiver Chandler Worthy also had seven receptions for 133 yards for the Trojans.

But the day belonged to the Ole Miss offense though. Bo Wallace completed 17 of his 26 passes for 272 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Wallace also had a big day on the ground running the ball nine times for 66 yards and a touchdown. Backup quarterback Barry Brunetti also had a solid day completing three of four passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. He also ran the ball eight times for 47 yards.

Laquon Treadwell and Donte Moncrief celebrate after a Treadwell touchdown / Photo by Seph Anderson
Laquon Treadwell and Donte Moncrief celebrate after a Treadwell touchdown / Photo by Seph Anderson

Ole Miss had seven different players with 46 yards or more running the ball. The Rebel passing attack had nine different receivers with a reception and eight of those nine players had 24 or more yards receiving. Jaylen Walton led the team in receiving with 83 yards and one touchdown on three receptions.

The Ole Miss freshmen had big day on the field. Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell had 4 receptions for 53 yards and two touchdowns while Robert Nkemdiche had his first big game of his college career. Nkemdiche had four solo tackles and a sack on the day but he disrupted the backfield almost every drive.

The Rebels improved to 7-3 on the year with the win over Troy and have a ton of momentum right now after breaking back into the top 25. But they’re going to have to get back into an SEC state of mind this week because number eight Missouri is coming to town. The Tigers have one loss on the year and need to beat Ole Miss and Texas A&M to solidify their spot in the SEC championship. The Rebels will have to play a perfect game like they did against LSU in order to pull off another top ten upset.

Then the Rebels conclude their 2013 regular season in Starkville as they face off against Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. The Bulldogs have struggled this season but when the Egg Bowl comes around, you can throw records out the window. The Rebels may hold the all-time lead in the Egg Bowl but they have not beaten Mississippi State in Starkville since Eli Manning’s senior year in 2003.

It’s going to be a critical last few weeks of the season but if there’s a team that’s up for the challenge, it’s Ole Miss.

Current SEC Standings:

SEC West:

Alabama 10-0 (7-0)

Auburn 10-1 (6-1)

Texas A&M 8-2 (4-2)

Ole Miss 7-3 (3-3)

LSU 7-3 (3-3)

Miss. State 4-6 (1-5)

Arkansas 3-7 (0-6)

SEC East:

Missouri 9-1 (5-1)

South Carolina 8-2 (6-2)

Georgia 6-4 (4-3)

Vanderbilt 6-4 (3-4)

Florida 4-6 (3-5)

Tennessee 4-6 (1-5)

Kentucky 2-8 (0-6)

–Justin Taylor, Associate Editor, HottyToddy.com

–You can email Justin at justin.taylor@hottytoddy.com

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