SEC football’s third week has produced some intriguing results but how can teams such as Tennessee and Georgia keep their hopes alive in the SEC East. Mike Huguenin at Gridiron Now gives us his take.
The third Saturday of the season in the SEC was expected to be a big one, and it included one of the most eagerly anticipated league games of the season. It lived up to the hype.
Here’s a look at all the SEC action from Saturday.
Alabama 48, Ole Miss 43
The host Rebels built a 24-3 lead and it looked as if a third consecutive win over the Tide was going to happen. The Tide then scored three TDs in a span of 5:23 covering the second and third quarters to tie it, and gradually pulled away to move to 3-0. Alabama hadn’t run the ball all that well in its first two games, but the Tide rushed for 334 yards and three TDs and finished with 492 total yards against Ole Miss. QB Jalen Hurts ran for 146 yards on 18 carries, and TB Damien Harris ran for 144 and a TD on 16 carries. Alabama also scored two defensive TDs and on a punt return by Eddie Jackson. Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly threw for 421 yards and three TDs, but he had a pick returned for a TD and suffered a fumble that was returned for another score. TE Evan Engram had a big day, with nine receptions for 138 yards and a touchdown. Alabama led 48-30 before Ole Miss scored twice in the final five minutes to make it interesting.
Florida 32, North Texas 0
The Gators held the Mean Green to just 56 total yards, the lowest total by an opponent in Florida history. But UF starting QB Luke Del Rio left the game late in the third quarter with a knee injury, and coach Jim McElwain said the Gators probably will be without Del RIo next week at Tennessee. Florida finished with 471 yards of offense, including 255 on the ground. But the Gators missed on two short fourth-down conversions and also were just 5-of-12 on third down. Florida had four rushing TDs, and each of the four tailbacks who played rushed for a TD and at least 46 yards. Once sack yardage was included, North Texas finished with minus-13 yards on the ground. UNT’s Mason Fine was sacked five times and the Mean Green was 2-of-13 on third down.
Georgia 28, Missouri 27
True freshman Jacob Eason tossed a 20-yard TD pass on fourth-and-10 with 1:29 left to lift the visiting Bulldogs (3-0) to the victory over the Tigers (1-2). Eason threw for 308 yards and three TDs to outduel Mizzou sophomore Drew Lock, who threw for 376 yards and three TDs but also three interceptions. Neither team did much on the ground; Georgia ran for 101 and Missouri 95. Junior Isaiah McKenzie, who came in with two career TD receptions, had 10 catches for 122 yards and two TDs, including the game-winner. That scoring toss was Georgia’s only second-half TD.
Texas A&M 29, Auburn 16
Daniel LaCamera kicked five field goals and Trevor Knight threw for 247 yards and a TD as the Aggies (3-0) won at Auburn (1-2) in the SEC opener for both. The Tigers took a 7-0 lead on their second drive of the game, but didn’t get into the end zone again until there was 3:07 left in the game. A&M’s defense gave up 236 rushing yards, but Auburn didn’t hit many big plays and went 6-of-17 on third down. A&M ran for 231 yards and cemented the win when true freshman Trayveon Williams ran 89 yards for a TD with 7:16 left in the game. The score gave the Aggies a 29-10 lead. The teams have met five times since A&M joined the SEC, and the road team has won all five meetings.
LSU 23, Mississippi State 20
The host Tigers (2-1) built a 23-3 halftime lead, then had to hold on for the win over the Bulldogs (1-2). Mississippi State scored two TDs in less than a minute late in the game to make things interesting; both came with Damian Williams at quarterback. Leonard Fournette ran for 147 yards and two TDs, and Danny Etling – who made his first LSU start – threw for 215 yards and a TD. LSU outgained Mississippi State 392-270, and the Bulldogs – who ran for just 56 yards – were an unsightly 1-of-14 on third down.
Tennessee 28, Ohio 19
One week before Florida comes to town, the Vols (3-0) slogged their way to the win over the visiting Bobcats (1-2). Tennessee led just 21-19 entering the fourth quarter. Afterward, Vols coach Butch Jones said star CB Cam Sutton would be out for an extended period of time with an ankle injury suffered on Ohio’s first drive of the game. The Vols’ offensive line had trouble controlling the line of scrimmage for most of the first three quarters, but Tennessee finished with 202 rushing yards. Josh Dobbs threw for 201 yards and two TDs – both to Josh Malone – but he missed a number of wide-open receivers and despite the good stats was uneven as a passer. The Vols held Ohio to just 87 rushing yards. The Vols fumbled five times, but didn’t lose any of them. Tennessee is 3-0 for the first time since 2004.
Arkansas 42, Texas State 3
Sophomore TB Rawleigh Williams III ran for 121 yards and two TDs on 19 carries as the host Razorbacks (3-0) hammered the Bobcats (1-2). Arkansas’ defense was stifling, holding Texas State to just 105 yards of offense and eight first downs. The Hogs finished with 467 yards of offense, including 226 yards and three TDs on the ground. Arkansas led 35-0 at halftime and didn’t really break a sweat in the second half.
South Carolina 20, East Carolina 15
The host Gamecocks surrendered 519 yards and were outgained by more than 200 yards, but they also forced four turnovers and hung tough in the red zone defensively to down the Pirates. ECU ran 91 plays (South Carolina ran 53), had a 17-minute time-of-possession advantage and had 34 first downs (the Gamecocks had 13). ECU WR Zay Jones (known as Isaiah Jones until this season) caught 22 passes for 190 yards; that is one reception shy of an NFL record. South Carolina scored on its first offensive play after a long kickoff return and a penalty, then added another TD fewer than five minutes later to take a 14-0 lead.
Georgia Tech 38, Vanderbilt 7
The host Yellow Jackets (3-0) ran all over the visiting Commodores (1-2) en route to the easy win. Tech’s triple-option offense rang up 289 rushing yards to help the Yellow Jackets control the game after Vandy tied it at 7-7 early in the first quarter. Georgia Tech completed eight passes but for 222 yards (27.8 yards per completion) and two touchdowns. The Yellow Jackets scored on 77- and 81-yard completions. Tech was 8-of-15 on third downs. Vandy managed just 85 rushing yards, with Ralph Webb held to 69 yards on 18 carries.
Kentucky 62, New Mexico State 42
The host Wildcats (1-2) rolled up 691 yards of offense to pull away from the Aggies (1-2). The game was tied at 35 at halftime before UK took control in the second half. Kentucky rushed for 380 yards and five TDs. Junior TB Stanley “Boom” Williams had a career-high 181 yards and a TD on 18 carries, and true freshman third-team TB Benjamin Snell Jr. had 136 yards and four TDs on 17 carries. Wildcats starting QB Drew Barker was injured in the first half and didn’t return; backup Stephen Johnson threw three TD passes to TE C.J. Conrad. UK surrendered 500 yards of offense, including 223 on the ground.
(You can follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin)