No question - he's not nearly a big enough name for UT at this point. My guess is he'll be snatched up by someone in the Big Ten. Meanwhile, TN is too busy chasing a dragon....
Here’s your weekly breakdown of all the SEC action from the previous weekend. We provide one key stat as well our own MrSEC.com takeaway from each contest.
As usual it’s done in no-huddle, up-tempo fashion… especially with so many dud games having been played on Saturday.
Alabama 49, Western Carolina 0 in Tuscaloosa – Video Highlights
Key Stat: 21 touchdown passes. Tide QB AJ McCarron broke the Alabama single-season TD pass record on Saturday. Remarkably, he threw just six passes on the day — completing them all — for 133 yards, a 22-yards-per-attempt average, and the record-breaking touchdown.
* Blah game, but the big news is that Alabama caught every break it needed within seven days of its loss to Texas A&M. Now the Time controls its own destiny again on the BCS front.
Mississippi State 45, Arkansas 14 in Starkville – Video Highlights
Key Stat: 505 to 359 total yards. That was the advantage MSU held at game’s end over Arkansas. Most of that production could be traced to the battle of the Tylers. Bulldogs QB Tyler Russell outplayed Hogs QB Tyler Wilson (though he had an easier defense to throw against, it must be said). Russell was 19-of-32 for 274 yards, four TDs and no interceptions. Wilson was 23-of-29 for 225 yards, two scores and two picks.
* 38-0. Down 14-7 to Arkansas and riding a three-game losing steak, Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs calmly collected themselves and raced past the Razorbacks with 38 consecutive points. It would have been easy for State to crumble — and previous MSU teams might have — but this one didn’t. In a word: Gumption.
* Razorback fans are just ready to see this season end. “Bring on Jon Gruden!”
Florida 23, Jacksonville State 0 in Gainesville – Video Highlights
Key Stat: 194 t0 154 passing yards. That stat had nothing to do with Florida’s win over its FCS foe. It has to do with an ongoing struggle to throw the football in Gainesville. You see, Jacksonville State actually held the passing advantage on Florida at game’s end. QB Jacoby Brissett was fine on Saturday and the Gator rushing attack rolled for 202 yards. But whether it’s Brissett or QB Jeff Driskel — who’s expected to return — against Florida State on Saturday, UF will need to find some form of passing game. To date, they haven’t been able to.
* While the Gator defense continues to look strong — how could it not against Jacksonville State — the offense continues to struggle. UF’s offense had exactly one touchdown drive on the day and that came in the first quarter. That kind of effort won’t beat FSU in Tallahassee.
South Carolina 24, Wofford 7 in Columbia (East) – Video Highlights
Key Stat: 64 wins. Steve Spurrier tied ex-Gamecock coach Rex Enright as USC’s all-time wins leader. He now holds that distinction at both Carolina and Florida. Paul “Bear” Bryant is the only other coach in SEC history to be the all-time leader in victories at two different SEC schools (Alabama and Kentucky).
* Don’t read too much into Saturday’s closer-than-expected score. Granted, the Cocks had no business entering the fourth quarter in a 7-7 game on Senior Day, but Wofford runs an option offense that piled up 259 yards on the ground and helped the Terriers win the time of possession battle. That said, expect Dabo Swinney and Clemson’s staff to pay attention to what Wofford did well in its run game against Carolina.
Georgia 45, Georgia Southern 14 in Athens – Video Highlights
Key Stat: 4 touchdown passes. Like Wofford, Georgia Southern is an option team. They ran for 302 yards against Georgia and also won the time of possession battle. But unlike South Carolina, Georgia was able to score with some big plays through the air and pull away from the Eagles thanks to Aaron Murray.
* Who would have thought after a mid-season, 35-7 loss to South Carolina that UGA would stand just three wins away from a BCS championship? The Dawgs face Georgia Tech on Saturday and will then battle Alabama in Atlanta for the SEC title. If the Mark Richt’s team can upset the Tide, a likely trip to Miami and the BCS title game awaits.
Auburn 51, Alabama A&M 7 in Auburn – Video Highlights
Key Stat: 341 yards rushing. It took until the 11th game of their season, but the Tigers finally enjoyed a laugher from start to finish. Auburn raced to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and got big days from running backs Tre Mason (181 yards) and Onterio McCalebb (104 yards). Easy work. For once.
* This game was hardly the hot topic on the Plains over the weekend. Gene Chizik’s job status is what’s on Tiger fans’ minds these days. Many, many, many want him gone, nevermind that 2010 BCS title and all those promises of never-ending love for the man. But AU president Jay Gogue will make that call with the help — he says — of AD Jay Jacobs (who many fans also want ousted). The rumor mill might have Chizik on his way out, but the coach ain’t dead yet.
LSU 41, Ole Miss 35 in Baton Rouge – Video Highlights
Key Stat: 4 turnovers. LSU coughed the ball up three times in its closer-than-it-should-have-been win over Ole Miss, but John Chavis’ defense picked off three passes and fell on another fumble. Take away just one of those takeaways and the Tigers might have been bested at home by an undermanned Rebel team.
* The Tigers needed an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown by Odell Beckham with nine minutes to go was the final momentum-changing big play in a game filled with them. The Tigers went on to punch in a one-yard touchdown run from Jeremy Hill with just 15 seconds left in regulation to grab the win. But Beckham’s swerving return will be what this game is remembered for.
* If not for the job Kevin Sumlin’s done at Texas A&M, Hugh Freeze should win the SEC’s Coach of the Year award. UM had no business going into Tiger Stadium with about 60 scholarship players and outgaining the Tigers. With just over 11 minutes to go in the game, the Rebs actually led 35-28. Freeze has gotten that absolute maximum from his players this year. If he can pull an upset in Saturday’s Egg Bowl with Mississippi State, he’ll actually take Ole Miss to a bowl game.
Texas A&M 47, Sam Houston State 28 in College Station – Video Highlights
Key Stat: 4,161 yards of total offense. Aggie QB Johnny Manziel set a number of records on Saturday — NCAA freshman quarterback rushing yards in a season, NCAA freshman total offense in a season, first NCAA freshman to ever pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season — but his 4,161 yards achievement set A&M’s school record for total offense in a season and kept him ahead of pace to break Cam Newton’s SEC record for total offense set in 2010. (It should also make him the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy.)
* The better Manziel plays, the better A&M’s chances of landing in a BCS bowl become. The kid is a draw and bowl selection committees know that he’ll bring in TV viewers while the Aggies themselves will bring a rabid fanbase to any bowl destination. If Florida loses at Florida State on Saturday and A&M handles Missouri at home, expect the Aggies to get a BCS bid at year’s end.
Syracuse 31, Missouri 27 in Columbia (West) – Video Highlights
Key Stat: 21 points. That’s how many point Syracuse hung on Missouri in the fourth quarter to rally for a victory. The late-game collapse will likely cost Mizzou a bowl trip as they are currently 5-6 and in need of a win at Texas A&M to become bowl eligible.
* Missouri QB James Franklin left the game with concussion-like symptoms in the second half. Star DT Sheldon Richardson wasn’t on the field to anchor the Tiger defense due to an academics-related suspension. Saturday’s game was a microcosm of MU’s season — not enough stars on the field to live up to preseason hopes.
Vanderbilt 41, Tennessee 18 in Nashville - Video Highlights
Key Stat: 3 straight. That’s how many losing seasons in a row that Tennessee has endured, the first time since 1909-1911 that Vol fans have experienced such lows. And those three straight losing seasons were enough to officially cost Derek Dooley his job on Sunday morning.
* Volunteer fans are just ready to see this season end. “Bring on Jon Gruden!”
* Not only is Vanderbilt bowl eligible for the second consecutive year, but the Commodores can win their eighth game of the year for the first time since 1982 with a win over Wake Forest this weekend. The Commodores haven’t exactly beaten a murderer’s row of foes, but the job James Franklin has done in two short years is impressive nonetheless. Now the challenge is to hang on to fiery coach and from the folks we’ve spoken to, it sounds like Vandy will be able to do just that.
Kentucky 34, Samford 3 in Lexington – Video Highlights
Key Stat: 34-3. Hey, when its just your second win of the year and it snaps an eight-game losing streak, the score itself is the key stat.
* When Joker Phillips was given the heave-ho a few weeks ago, several Wildcat players voiced their disappointment with that decision. Saturday, they showed up and played — albeit against an FCS foe — as though they were trying to win one for their coach. Saturday, the Cats might be more motivated (to send Phillips out with a win) than Tennessee might be (to win for an interim coach with no bowl on the line).