The Tide continue to roll in their route of Arkansas in Tuscaloosa. Texas A&M comes from behind again in their first trip to the Swamp. Georgia turned an early scare into a blowout win at home. Auburn blew a 20-0 lead in a loss to unranked LSU in Baton Rouge. Three coaches turned up the heat on their seats while two were able to cool theirs down. These are just a few of the major headlines that were made in week 7 of SEC football.
Let’s take a spin around the Southland to see how things shook out on Saturday:
Alabama 41 Arkansas 9
Behind the rushing attack of Damien Harris, who racked up 125 yards and two trips to the end zone on 9 carries, top ranked Alabama rolled on to a 41-9 win over Arkansas on Saturday night. Following last week’s 27-19 win over Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide finally looked human for the first time this season. Of course that didn’t carry over into their match up with Arkansas, and they set the tone early when Harris took the handoff on the opening play 75 yards for six. It was literally all Alabama from the beginning.
As for the Razorbacks, they fall to 2-4 on the season and 0-3 in conference play. It’s clear that Bret Bielema’s days in Fayetteville are numbered, but I don’t think you cut ties with him following a loss to the best team in the country on the road. The Hogs will host 21st ranked Auburn on Saturday as Alabama will welcome Tennessee to Tuscaloosa.
Georgia 53 Missouri 28
This one was a head scratcher early on as Drew Locke and the Missouri offense had an answer for Georgia’s scoring drives through the first half. At one point, this game was deadlocked at 21 before Georgia scored a touchdown and a couple field goals to take a 34-21 lead into the half.
In the second half, Georgia’s defense had made the necessary adjustments and were able to shut down Missouri’s offense to run away with a 53-28 win, their seventh straight this season. Georgia is now 7-0 for the first time since 2005 (they won the SEC that year) and will go into a bye week before taking on Florida in their annual showdown in Jacksonville. Missouri on the other hand is sitting at an abysmal 1-5, but will have two back to back winnable out of conference games on ahead of them as they get set to host Idaho next Saturday.
LSU 27 Auburn 23
A few weeks ago, everyone who follows SEC football, particularly LSU fans were already debating how much Ed Orgeron’s buyout would be, not if, but when they decided to let him go. Following the embarrassing loss to Troy, Orgeron was able to rally his troops and earn the Tigers a 17-16 win over Florida in Gainesville. Beating Florida was hardly enough to earn certain job security, but it did quite the outside noise down a bit. On Saturday, Orgeron and LSU did something even more impressive.
There wasn’t much belief among college football fans and analysts alike that LSU could knock off 10th ranked Auburn. Especially an Auburn team that has managed put up a lot of points on offense in the last few weeks leading up to the game. Those feelings were solidified when the Tigers from the Plaines jumped out to a 20-0 first half lead. LSU was able to put together two touchdown drives before the half to make it 23-14, a score that held until DJ Chark took an Auburn punt 75 yards to the house to make it 23-21 in the fourth quarter. LSU tacked on a couple of field goals to go up 27-23. Their defense, after giving up 20 in the first half, came in the clutch, holding Auburn’s potent offense scoreless for the entirety of the second half.
LSU is now 5-2, and will have the opportunity to become bowl eligible when they head to Oxford to take on Ole Miss next Saturday. Auburn will face yet another team and coach who is in need of a big win on Saturday as they will travel to Fayetteville to face Arkansas.
Mississippi State 35 BYU 10
The Bulldogs took a break from their SEC slate to host a 1-6 BYU team in Starkville on Saturday. Mississippi State scored at least one touchdown in each quarter in a comfortable win over the struggling Cougars.
State will return to conference play next week as they will play host to the Kentucky Wildcats, a team they lost to by field goal in Lexington last season.
South Carolina 15 Tennessee 9
What is there left to say about Butch Jones and team 121? Following a 41-0 loss to Georgia two weeks ago, Tennessee really needed to come out of their bye week and perform well in front of the home crowd at Neyland Stadium on Saturday. It appeared, for at least the entire first half that the Vols were doing just that. The defense kept Jake Bentley and the Gamecocks offense in check for most of the game, and Freshman Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, in his first collegiate start was not making many mistakes and helping the offense move down the field. The problem for Tennessee on Saturday was the red zone. By halftime, fans had to be feeling a bit concerned that the Vols only led 9-3, due to missed opportunities deep in South Carolina territory.
As many had feared, the inevitable happened when South Carolina used a long drive that started at their own goal line to tie the game at 9 a piece (a botched extra point kept them from taking the lead). Tennessee’s offense again wasn’t able to capitalize in the fourth quarter, and South Carolina used two drives on a short field to add a couple of field goals to take a 15-9 lead with less than a minute to go. As fans began preparing to head for the exits, Guarantano breathed new life into Neyland Stadium when he hit Brandon Johnson on a 49 yard pass with 41 seconds left on the clock. A pass interference call on South Carolina inched Tennessee even closer to the checkerboards. But the Vols red zone woes continued, as they Guarantano’s game winning pass to Johnson with a second left to play fell incomplete to seal the game, and arguably, Butch Jones’ fate.
The road ahead does not get easier for the 3-3 Volunteers, as a third Saturday in October match up with top ranked Alabama looms on the horizon. The question going into that game may be, who will be roaming the sidelines as the head coach for Tennessee? Will Muschamp, who is now 4-0 all time versus Butch Jones and Tennessee, will get a bye week before taking on Vanderbilt.
Ole Miss 57 Vanderbilt 35
The Rebels strong suit coming into the 2017 season was their offense, especially having a signal caller like Shea Patterson leading the way. Needless to say, following a 66-3 drubbing at the hands of Alabama, and a 44-23 loss to Auburn, Ole Miss appeared to have no answers on either side of the ball. That was not the case on Saturday, as the Rebels posted 600 plus yards of total offense in a 57-35 win over rival Vanderbilt in Oxford.
Ole Miss hopes to carry the momentum of a big win into week eight when they play LSU. Vanderbilt, who after running out to a 3-0 start to the season are now reeling after four straight blowout losses in conference play. The Commodores get a bye week before heading to Columbia to face South Carolina.
Texas A&M 19 Florida 17
A few weeks ago, Florida was 3-1 after miracle finished versus Kentucky and Tennessee. Their luck didn’t carry over into last week’s 17-16 loss to LSU which was decided by a missed extra point. After Saturday night’s loss to Texas A&M in the Swamp, it’s evident now that the Gators have no more luck left to rely on to win games. Not only that, despite two trips to Atlanta as the SEC East champion, questions are beginning to abound about the future of Jim McElwain and the state of the Florida football program. It’s not so much a loss to a decent Texas A&M team as much as it’s the way they lost. Florida seemed to be on pace for a big offensive performance in the first half after a touchdown drive put them ahead 10-3 at the half. That momentum stalled out in the second half.
Texas A&M came out with a big drive in the third quarter to tie the game at 10, but an 80 yard run on 3rd and long by Florida quarterback Felipe Franks (you read that right) set up a touchdown to put the Gators ahead, 17-10 in the fourth quarter. Despite two red zone drives by the Aggies, Florida’s defense held them to two field goals to make it 17-16. Florida had the ball and the lead with less than six minutes left in the game, but in typical Florida fashion, the offense couldn’t generate any yards or first downs to ice the game. A costly three and out gave the ball to Texas A&M as the clock ticked away. A big pass from Kellen Mond to Christian Kirk put the Aggies in field goal range, and a few plays later a field goal gave them their first lead of the night at 19-17. Florida was able to get the ball back with about a minute left to play, and with the big leg of kicker Eddy Pinero, all the Gators needed was a solid drive to put them in field goal range to get the win. That hope was snuffed out when Franks’ first pass of the drive was picked off to seal the win from Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M.
It’s been a long time between Texas A&M’s historic collapse at UCLA to open the season to now, as they sit at 5-2 on the season and 3-1 in league play. Not to mention, Texas A&M has been the only team this season to give mighty Alabama all they could handle. The Aggies will get a bye week before hosting Mississippi State. Florida will get a much needed bye week as well, as they struggle to find an answer before playing Georgia in the cocktail party down in Jacksonville. One thing appears to be certain at this point in the season, there likely won’t be a third trip to Atlanta for this Florida team.