Things went pretty well on Senior Day in Knoxville as the Vols rolled in the second half to a 66-24 victory over Missouri. Elsewhere, LSU survived in Fayetteville on the back of Harold Perkins while Georgia took care of business against Mississippi State to set up the matchup for the SEC Championship.
1 Georgia | 10-0 (7-0) | +290 PD (406 F, 116 A)
5 Tennessee | 9-1 (5-1) | +255 PD (474 F, 219 A)
Florida | 6-4 (3-4) | +50 PD (319 F, 269 A)
South Carolina | 6-4 (3-4) | +24 PD (286 F, 262 A)
Kentucky | 6-4 (3-4) | +33 PD (233 F, 200 A)
Missouri | 4-6 (2-5) | -27 PD (232 F, 259 A)
Vanderbilt | 4-6 (1-5) | -88 PD (264 F, 352 A)
6 LSU | 8-2 (6-1) | +116 PD (326 F, 210 A)
8 Alabama | 8-2 (5-2) | +217 PD (406 F, 189 A)
14 Ole Miss | 8-2 (4-2) | +137 PD (361 F, 224 A)
Mississippi State | 6-4 (3-4) | +51 PD (312 F, 261 A)
Arkansas | 5-5 (2-4) | +10 PD (299 F, 289 A)
Auburn | 4-6 (2-5) | -59 PD (229 F, 288 A)
Texas A&M | 3-7 (1-6) | -13 PD (215 F, 228 A)
Tennessee: Vols bounce back, keep CFP hopes alive with 66-24 win
Hendon Hooker had himself a day in his last game at Neyland.
Tennessee found themselves leading just 28-24 after Missouri’s first drive of the second half, and this is when Hendon Hooker decided the game was over. Hooker led a 38-0 death march to the finish as he threw for 355 yards and three touchdowns on the day, adding another score on the ground.
On the ground, it was a group effort for the Vols, but Dylan Sampson really showed off late in the game, carrying the ball eight times for 98 yards and a score. Bru McCoy cracked the century mark on the day, as did Jalin Hyatt who was fantastic once again, hauling in seven passes for 146 yards and a touchdown as he eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark on the season.
Hyatt is having an absolutely magical, once in a lifetime type season for Tennessee. He continues to add onto his single season touchdown record, now at 15, and he’s closing in on the single season receiving yards record as well. As it stands today, Hyatt is at 1,116 yards, and with at least three games (two regular season, one bowl game, maybe more) left to play, that leaves him 182 yards shy of Robert Meachum’s all-time record of 1,298. He’s also just 18 receptions shy of Marcus Nash’s record of 76. This is already the greatest season a Vols receiver has ever had, but if he could walk away holding the triple crown, he would cement himself as a legend.
Prior to Saturday, Missouri ranked within the top 30 in the FBS in points allowed per game going into Saturday, Tennessee scored 66. They ranked eleventh in the FBS in yards allowed per game at 304.0, Tennessee put up 724. Missouri ranked 18th in rush yards allowed per game at 112.4, Tennessee ran for 264.
It was straight up offensive dominance, and while the defense looked rough for a lot of the game, they still only allowed seven points the entire second half. It’s been a bend, don’t break unit that thrives off of turnovers and pressure on the quarterback, and they did enough to make sure the offense could put this one out of reach.
Georgia: Dawgs pull away in second half, clinch SEC Title Game berth
The final score doesn’t show how ugly this game was for Georgia, but the SEC East representative in the SEC Championship Game took care of business in the second half, 45-19.
Georgia’s offense wasn’t anywhere near as sharp as they were a week ago against Tennessee, but as is the custom in Athens, their defense set the tone and created more opportunities themselves. The best defense in America forced seven drives of three minutes or fewer that ended in a punt or turnover on downs. Pretty good!
Stetson Bennett was not sharp which we’ve seen at times this season...just not against the Vols...throwing a pair of interceptions to go with his three touchdowns.
Georgia and LSU. The date is set. December 3rd. Georgia will get Kentucky in Lexington next week before hosting Georgia Tech for a little Clean Old-Fashioned Hate.
Florida: Gators run all over Gamecocks, 38-6
We have now seen the expectation come to fruition. Anthony Richardson has now played two really good games in a row as Florida has found something on offense.
The Gators rushed for 374 yards against South Carolina, a season high, and they now have 665 rushing yards as a team over their last two games for six touchdowns.
Anthony Richardson completed 11-of-23 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns and added 96 yards on the ground and another score. Florida has figured out how to use their dual threat of late as he’s averaging 75.5 yards per game on the ground over his last four games after averaging just 47.0 over his first six games.
Richardson has also played interception-free football over these last four games, a major change after throwing seven through the first six games of the season. The growth is there, and this team is hitting their stride late in the season.
South Carolina: Gamecocks drown in the Swamp
After finding themselves ranked in the AP Top 25 just three weeks ago, it’s been all bad since for South Carolina.
Spencer Rattler has been bad. He’s not thrown for 200 yards against an FBS team since September 10. Every struggle this offense has revolves around whether they can run the ball or not. When South Carolina rushes for 170-plus yards as a team, they’re 4-0. When they don’t, they’re 2-4. They ran for 44 yards in this one.
This is the life of a team that can’t throw the ball, and they’re nowhere near good enough defensively to make up for these limitations.
In a season that has been a roller coaster highlighted by crushing losses, none are as embarrassing as this one for Mark Stoops Kentucky. The ‘Cats fell to Vanderbilt at home, 24-21.
Kentucky played its worst game of the season against the worst team in the SEC, and it cost them big time. Vanderbilt had only allowed under 350 total yards of offense just once all season prior to Saturday, Kentucky put up 322. Levis is clearly playing hurt, and it’s showing in all facets.
He threw for just 109 yards and an interception, and over his last three games, he’s completing just 58-percent of his passes for 377 yards, three touchdowns, and four interceptions. A season ago, Levis was a threat on the ground, but that’s all but evaporated this season. He’s one dimensional, and that dimension just isn’t working at all right now.
Defensively, this team got gashed on the ground by a team that’s been fairly inconsistent in their ability to run the ball, allowing not one but two 100-yard rushers in this game.
It’s an embarrassing loss for a team that now gets to welcome Georgia to town next week. Good luck!
Missouri: Cook’s best game wasted as Mizzou’s defense gets waxed
Missouri came into this game in Knoxville with one of the better defensive units in the country, a far cry from where they were a season ago. Did they fare any differently against Tennessee from a season ago, however? No, no they did not, and it may have been worse.
A season ago, Missouri had one of the worst defensive units in the country, especially against the run, but they had rectified that in a major way this season, making the biggest leap of any defensive unit year-over.
Then they faced Tennessee, and it’s safe to say the subtle jabs Drinkwitz made in the off-season were promptly responded to with haymakers from Josh Heupel in this game. 460 yards passing, 264 rushing, nine touchdowns allowed. Yikes.
Missouri will look to take out their frustrations against New Mexico State on Saturday before finishing up the season at home against Arkansas and try to become bowl eligible.
Vanderbilt: The streak is over
Three years, 26 consecutive conference losses, all snapped on Saturday. Vandy walked into Lexington and walked out with a win and Kentucky’s lifeless heart.
Finding themselves down 21-17 with under five minutes to play, it felt like Vanderbilt was going to lose another close one. Mike Wright had different plans.
12 plays, 80 yards, 4 minutes and 26 seconds. That’s what it took to break a curse.
Quincy Skinner made an incredible catch on 4th-and-11 to save the drive.
We you @QuincySkinnerJr #AnchorDown pic.twitter.com/W3FvZpBNi8— Vanderbilt Football (@VandyFootball) November 12, 2022
Wright found Will Sheppard in the end zone on third and goal from eight yards out with just 32 seconds left, the game winning score that gave the Commodores a 24-21 win.
The emotion on Clark Lea’s face as the coaches met at midfield tells you everything you need to know about this. It has been a grind of a two years for he and this program. Congratulations, Vandy, you deserve this. Couldn’t have happened against a better team, too.
LSU: Harold Perkins defeats Arkansas, 13-10
It has been a very long time, if ever, that I have seen a true freshman take over a game defensively like Harold Perkins Jr. did on Saturday in Fayetteville.
His four sacks tied the LSU record, and he added four tackles-for-loss and a pair of strip sacks, including the one that sealed the game on Arkansas’ final possession.
Offensively, LSU was nearly silent. Their 40 yard touchdown drive midway through the third quarter gave them a 13-3 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
LSU’s improbable run will now take them to Atlanta to face the Georgia Bulldogs for the SEC Championship. An incredible season for Brian Kelly in year one.
Alabama: Tide narrowly avoid consecutive losses, 30-24
Both the problems and strengths were on full display in Oxford for the Tide on Saturday. Jahmyr Gibbs got injured early, and with Alabama’s best weapon not named Bryce Young gone, it was all on the Heisman winner from there.
Bill O’Brien has been rightfully targeted by Alabama fans and talking heads alike as a major issue of this offense, and while Saturday was no exception, this game also exemplified how weak this receiver group is.
Alabama brought in transfer Jermaine Burton from Georgia, and along with Jojo Earle and Ja’Corey Brooks, this group was tasked with replacing Jameson Williams and John Metchie III, and they’ve simply failed to do that. Only Brooks has over 400 yards receiving, and we’re 11 weeks into the season. Jahmyr Gibbs leads this team in receptions. The lack of separation and big plays this group fails to create puts an insane amount of pressure on Bryce Young. To Young’s credit, however, he’s doing all he can and continues to make tremendous plays every week.
Defensively, Alabama did their best to contain Ole Miss’ running game, and when Zach Evans went out with an injury, their task became just slowing down Quinshon Judkins enough to make Jaxson Dart have to beat them, and that’s exactly what happened late in the game. Alabama’s ‘cheetah’ front got consistent pressure on Dart as well, making life all the harder for Ole Miss’s QB.
Alabama will get Austin Peay next week and then host Auburn for the Iron Bowl.
Ole Miss: Kiffin comes up short against Saban once again
Ole Miss played as well as they could for three quarters, going into the final 15 minutes tied at 24 with Alabama. However, the wheels fell off in the fourth quarter as Ole Miss failed to score a point. Ole Miss’s drives went punt, punt, turnover on downs, turnover on downs in the final frame as Alabama completely neutralized Quinshon Judkins until the final drive.
Judkins, now the sole owner of the Ole Miss single season rushing touchdown record, completely took over that final drive, putting together a 35 yard run to get into Alabama territory. He then ran for 14 more yards to get inside the red zone with 2:23 to play, and then...he didn’t touch the ball again.
It was pretty peculiar that the man who was mainly responsible for Ole Miss being in this position both on the scoreboard up to this point and in scoring position on this drive never saw the ball again. Dart didn’t have it at all as the pressure was clearly getting to him. He was missing throws or tucking and running into sacks for most of the final quarter, so going away from Judkins is questionable to say the least.
Ole Miss will head to Fayetteville to take on a flailing Arkansas team before returning home for the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving.
Mississippi State: Bulldogs fall to Bulldogs in Starkville
State kinda sorta hung around for about a half, but ultimately their inability to run the ball all game or effectively pass in the second half signaled their demise in this one. It was inevitable against Georgia. Georgia’s defense stifles the most complete of offenses, let alone one as one-dimensional as Mississippi State’s.
After back to back games against A&M and Arkansas with 144 and 162 team rushing yards, State has rushed for 144 yards in their last four games combined. They’ve only eclipsed 350 total yards of offense once in that span as Mike Leach’s offense have gone 4.85, 3.37, 4.63, and 4.51 yards per play over their last four games respectively. The explosive plays are nonexistent and the once eye-popping numbers of sheer volume from Will Rogers are even gone.
It’s year three under Mike Leach, and the same problems continue to rear their ugly head. On top of that, Leach hasn’t recruited well at all in Starkville as they’ve been bottom four in the SEC each year he’s been there. It might be that time, State.
Arkansas: Hogs fall just short at home again, fighting for bowl eligibility
Arkansas was without KJ Jefferson on Saturday, and his absence was felt immensely. Between Malik Hornsby and Cade Fortin, the inability to pass the ball played a huge hand in their inability to run the ball as Rocket Sanders was held to just 46 total yards on the day. The Arkansas offensive line also had a hell of a time trying to block Harold Perkins Jr.
Perkins more or less decided this game in favor of LSU, but this was Arkansas’s best defensive performance of the season by far. Arkansas came into the game ranking 122nd in the nation against the pass, so naturally they held Jaylen Daniels to his worst game of the season, holding him to just 86 pasing yards and an interception and 10 passing yards. Arkansas sacked Daniels seven times, but it still wasn’t enough for them to overcome their offensive struggles.
If this defense were able to play the same game against LSU’s offense with KJ Jefferson, I do think this game has a different result. Unfortunately for Arkansas, it wasn’t, and the Hogs have now dropped to 1-5 in games against ranked opponents this season.
Auburn: Tigers beat A&M 13-10
There’s a different feel surrounding the Auburn program than there was just a few weeks ago. Cadillac Williams was brought in as interim coach to do one thing, and that was to try and galvanize this team, and that’s exactly what he’s done.
The energy levels inside of Jordan-Hare were at levels not seen since last year’s Iron Bowl. This team’s effort just feels different right now. Bryan Harsin never got this kind of fight out of this team this season, and the fans are buying into it as well.
Auburn couldn’t throw the ball at all, but that didn’t stop them from running A&M’s defense into submission. Both Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter rushed for 121 yards as Auburn ran for 270 as a team. Their 36:26 to 23:34 time of possession really made a big difference in a game with such offensive struggle that they led wire to wire, and that’s all thanks to the ground game, and to be able to run the ball like that takes a level of effort and teamwork they just weren’t showing under Harsin.
This team has nothing to play for, but they don’t know that. The Iron Bowl likely won’t be much of a game, but they’ll give Alabama some fits with this kind of toughness.
Texas A&M: The dumpster fire that has consumed all of Texas
Hoooooo buddy. What in the world is going on in College Station???
A&M officially became the first program in the history of recruiting tracking to bring in the number one class and follow it with a losing season.
Jimbo Fisher has a 90-million dollar buyout, and every struggle holding this team back that manifested into *this* are squarely on his shoulders.
Why are we suspending players for wearing sleeves?
Jimbo has lost the team and the fans, so at what point does he lose the patience of those in power? I said about a month ago that his job wouldn’t be in question until around that time a year from now, and while I still think that to be true, the seat is assuredly hotter than ever now. This has enveloped from a dumpster fire into a full fledge five-alarm blaze.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: HENDON HOOKER - TENNESSEE
Ho-hum, just another day at the office for the Vols’ Heisman Trophy candidate. Hooker dominated a good Missouri defense with 355 yards passing and three touchdowns through the air and another on the ground. He answered as well as one could have ever expected him to coming off the Georgia game that many thought sunk his Heisman candidacy. That is certainly not the case now.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: HAROLD PERKINS JR. - LSU
There was never a doubt here. Perkins tied LSU’s single game sack record with four, and his two strip sacks completely changed the game, especially the one that essentially won them the game. It was a true breakout game for the true freshman, but one that almost everyone saw coming, just ask Lane Kiffin.