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SEC Round-Up Week 12: Vols blow biggest chance in 24 years in catastrophic fashion

Never wear the orange helmets again

NCAA Football: Tennessee at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports



SEC East

1 Georgia | 11-0 (8-0) | +300 PD (422 F, 122 A)
9 Tennessee | 9-2 (5-2) | +230 PD (512 F, 282 A)
South Carolina | 7-4 (4-4) | +49 PD (349 F, 300 A)
Kentucky | 6-5 (3-5) | +23 PD (239 F, 216 A)
Florida | 6-5 (3-5) | +43 PD (343 F, 300 A)
Missouri | 5-6 (2-5) | +4 PD (277 F, 273 A)
Vanderbilt 5-6 (2-5) | -81 PD (295 F, 376 A)

SEC West

6 LSU | 9-2 (6-1) | +147 PD (367 F, 200 A)
8 Alabama | 9-2 (5-2) | +251 PD (440 F, 189 A)
20 Ole Miss | 8-3 (4-3) | +122 PD (388 F, 266 A)
Mississippi State | 7-4 (3-4) | +100 PD (368 F, 268 A)
Arkansas | 6-5 (3-4) | +25 PD (341 F, 316 A)
Auburn | 5-6 (2-5) | -35 PD (270 F, 305 A)
Texas A&M | 4-7 (1-6) | +4 PD (235 F, 231 A)


Tennessee: Vols worst nightmare comes to life at Williams-Brice

Arkansas beat Ole Miss on Saturday and led the number 14 team in the country 42-6 going into the fourth quarter, and you probably haven’t heard a peep about it. That is entirely because of what went down at the same time in Columbia.


You’re never going to hear the end of it.

It’s Tennessee’s own version of Ohio State-Iowa in 2017. The upset losses that you can’t fathom ever happening do happen, and they are so much worse than you could have ever imagined as they rip your heart out in the first quarter and watch its final beats over the final three quarters.

To make matters worse, Tennessee will be without Hendon Hooker for the rest of the season due to a torn ACL he suffered late in this game. The only thing worse than losing this game is Hooker’s magical two year run in Knoxville ending on such a sour note. Hooker has been the face of this rebirth of a once great program’s resurgence into the national spotlight, and his impact and leadership will be missed.

Defensively, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. This defense has been bend and don’t break in countless games, and they’ve bent and broken just as much but got bailed out by the best offense in the country, but on this night, there was no safety net. They were exploited and exposed from the first snap, and the Gamecocks were unrelenting all night long.

Tennessee versus heartbreak tends to go the way of heartbreak eleven times out of ten. It’s the ending of No Country For Old Men perfectly encapsulated. Any time Tennessee starts to get greedy and push beyond what they’re expected to be, the painful inevitability of agony awaits them cruelly and suddenly, and this time it was in the form of South Carolina.

Now we start to compartmentalize. Tennessee’s playoff hopes are dashed. We will now get our first look at starting quarterback Joe Milton for the first time since the Pitt game last September. Tennessee still has a chance to post its first 10-win season in 15 years. All they have to do is beat Vanderbilt...who is on a two game winning Nashville...

Georgia: Dawgs skate by Kentucky in Lexington, 16-6

You ever watch Georgia play anyone that isn’t Tennessee this year and wish that was the team that showed up in Athens on November 5th?

Stetson Bennett and the Georgia passing attack failed to do much of anything vertically all day long against Kentucky, but thankfully for them, Kenny McIntosh and the best defense on earth were there to save the day.

McIntosh totaled 143 yards on the ground and a touchdown on 19 carries, doing the legwork for an offense that struggled against Kentucky’s potent secondary.

Brock Bowers looked human for the first time all year, hauling in just two passes for 10 yards.

There isn’t much to look into here. Georgia will be ready on December 3rd. Bennett continues to get away with mistakes largely because this defense continues to be suffocating. Will it catch up with Georgia eventually? It’s hard to say, but they need better play out of their quarterback.

South Carolina: Historic win thwarts Tennessee’s CFP hopes

South Carolina scored the most points against a top-5 CFP ranked team ever on Saturday night. Spencer Rattler looked like the guy he was recruited to be. Shane Beamer has his statement win.

All those things mentioned still feel like it’s downplaying how insane and anomalous this performance was. It’s truly a once a generation type of win in every sense.

South Carolina had 11 drives prior to them kneeling this one out; nine of them were touchdown drives. Spencer Rattler threw for 438 yards and six touchdowns in this game. He had thrown six touchdowns over his last six games combined.

This will be a win talked about for a very long time in Columbia.

Kentucky: Offense runs out of gas in upset effort against UGA

11 plays, 64 yards, turnover on downs. 13 plays 57 yards, interception.

Those were Kentucky’s first two drives of the game. Both got well into Georgia territory, the latter inside the red zone, and stalled. They would go three-and-out over their next three drives and found themselves down 16-0 before they even cracked the scoreboard on a 99-yard scoring drive early in the fourth quarter.

Kentucky’s struggles to capitalize when they had their chances, like all failed upset attempts, was their demise.

Florida: Gators fall to Vandy in sleeper shocker of weekend

Just when things looked to be turning around for Florida, they ran into the buzzsaw of...Vanderbilt...?

This is the ultimate “box score doesn’t tell the story” game.

Just looking at this, you would be shocked to know that Vandy led Florida 28-12 going into the fourth quarter. Florida did all they could to claw back in the fourth despite the near three-score deficit while Vandy was just trying to run the clock out, creating the late disparity in total yards, but, similar to the Tennessee game, their late efforts including an onside kick (they didn’t recover this one) came up short. Turns out, it still takes four quarters of football to win.

Florida’s inability to run the ball against a Vanderbilt defense that had allowed over 200 rushing yards in each of their last two outings was pretty jarring. Florida has been up there with Ole Miss as the best rushing offense in the conference, so to see 45 rushing yards in a game where they should have easily controlled the LOS says a lot as to where this team is right now.

Florida will wrap up their regular season in Tallahassee against Florida State. Florida is bowl eligible, but can they escape with a better than .500 record?

Missouri: Tigers coast by New Mexico State, 45-14

Sure would’ve been great to have this game this week, huh?

Mizzou took care of business against the Aggies rather easily. They now sit one win away from bowl eligibility. All they have to do is beat Arkansas.

Vanderbilt: ‘Dores do it again, upset Florida 31-24

Who had Vandy beating Kentucky and Florida on their bingo card before the season?

It felt palpable all season that Clark Lea was building something in Nashville, but they just couldn’t get over the hump in conference play. Now we’re looking at a Vanderbilt team on a two game winning streak in conference play, something they’ve not done since 2018, and things are starting to look up for the Commodores.

Now sitting at 5-6, Vandy has bowl eligibility in their sites. They will host the wounded animal of Tennessee in Nashville to try and get there. That game will be very interesting to watch.


LSU: Tigers weather slow start, dominate UAB, 41-10

It took LSU a minute to get rolling, but once they did, it was all Bayou Bengals.

Jayden Daniels was back to his typical efficient, dual-threat self, going 22-of-29 for 297 yards and a touchdown while adding 111 and another score on the ground.

Noah Cain added three first half touchdowns on the ground as LSU took care of food on Saturday afternoon.

LSU will head to College Station to face the corpse of Texas A&M before the SEC Championship in two weeks.

Alabama: Tide roll Austin Peay, 34-0

FCS opponent, this was expected. A little shocked it wasn’t worse. Iron Bowl next week, and it might be Bryce Young’s swan song. Expect ‘Bama to dominate.

Ole Miss: Kiffin and co. get stampeded by Hogs, 42-27

It got late early in Fayetteville Saturday evening.

By the time Rocket Sanders escaped for a 68-yard touchdown run, Ole Miss saw themselves down 42-6 in the third quarter. 12 penalties for 116 yards will almost guarantee your demise, and despite Ole Miss totaling a staggering 703 yards—a lot of that was in a garbage time fourth quarter—when it mattered, they couldn’t punch it in.

Ole Miss put up a putrid 41% success rate in the red zone to Arkansas’ 75%, and for the first three quarters where this was at least sort of a game, Jaxson Dart was completely nonexistent passing the ball.

Both Zach Evans and Quinshon Judkins rushed for over 200 yards *each*, and it didn’t matter. Ole Miss got their tails whipped, plain and simple. Up next is the Egg Bowl as Kiffin looks to avoid a three-game losing streak to end what could be his final year in Oxford.

Mississippi State: Bulldogs roll ETSU, 56-7

State got back on the horse this week with a little tune-up game against FCS ETSU. Despite this emphatic win, State has scuffled since mid-October and are now 2-3 in the second half of the season.

That being’s Egg Bowl week. Thanksgiving evening presents an Ole Miss team crumbling in the gales of November whose coach’s status is totally up in the air versus a Mississippi State team whose aforementioned struggles have weighed down a great start. Needless to say, this Egg Bowl has so much going on, but which Humpty Dumpty will have its great fall, and will Lane Kiffin be the only coach potentially on the move after this game?

Arkansas: Hogs get Jefferson back and crush Ole Miss

KJ Jefferson is that dude.

Arkansas is amongst the 20 best teams in the country when he is healthy and on the field, and they showed exactly that on Saturday. Jefferson completed 17-of-22 passes for 168 yards and three touchdowns while Rocket Sanders added 232 yards and three scores on the ground. Side note: when’s the last time a game featured three 200-yard rushers? That would be 2016 in a game between FAU and Middle Tennessee State.

Arkansas’ defense played another three elite quarters, adding onto their excellent performance against LSU. No idea what got into this unit or what schematically changed, but it’s hard not to imagine what this team would have been this season with this defense and a healthy KJ Jefferson.

Auburn: Tigers run all over Hilltoppers, 41-17

Both Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter cracked the 100-yard mark as Auburn cruised over Western Kentucky.

The Iron Bowl is right around the corner, and, at long last, this miserable season is almost over for the Tigers. Who they hire will kickstart 2023 for them.

Texas A&M: Aggies get back in win column, beat UMass 20-3

It’s so hard to say anything positive about this team, and, frankly, I haven’t in about three months, but let’s try, shall we?

The heavily praised freshman class of 2022 largely won this game in spite of a slew of absences of many starters on both sides of the ball. Conner Weigman looked solid as the signal caller while Le’Veon Moss posted his first 100-yard rushing game. The headliner of the class, Walter Nolen, continues to grow as he made a couple big stops up front for the Aggie defense.

Uber talented sophomore wideout Moose Muhammad III apparently got rid of the sleeves and got to play and hauled in three passes for 75 yards.

UMass is the worst team in the country. This is no secret. It’s the wonderful dairy farm Michigan sent Don Brown off to in order to get him out of Ann Arbor. Either way, this is a positive for A&M. Just ride with the freshmen because they’re the only ones that even show a glimmer of hope for this lost season.


NCAA Football: Tennessee at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no one else it can be. Rattler had a career day in the biggest game of his life, throwing for 438 yards and six touchdowns, both career highs.